We are what we are not. Every identification requires the exclusion of otherness. What happens, when exclusion becomes the dominating focus of the identification? When it is not longer about who we are, but about the group who we are not?
The project Other Side deals with this conflict in a place, where separation as the foundation of a society is embodied: two elementary schools, which share an entrance, a schoolyard and even parts of a building. Two schools which both teach in Dutch - the less spoken but more reputably perceived language of Belgium. Two schools, in which the children are separated by walls, fences and a time schedule that goes as far as avoiding a concurrent walk to school.
One school is visited by Belgian children, whose parents speak Dutch at home, striving for a high standard of education. The other school is visited by immigrant children, who grow up bilingual with their parents' language and French and now learn Dutch as a third language. While the mother tongue seemingly sits at the core of the segregation, the resulting infrastructure measures render integration impossible.
Other Side consists of playful interventions, turning the fence - the symbol of separation - into a common ground. All interventions are documented, leading to images, which speak through the children's curiosity for each other in order to highlight the situation. The images were exhibited on the schoolyards, and are still hanging on the walls inside both schools. The fence remains.
The schools are 4.7km north of the European Commission. It is tempting to look at the children in Schaarbeek with pity, yet this project depicts a greater pattern of social injustice which we experience in neighborhoods, education systems, social systems and economy almost identically across major European cities.
Bachelor Thesis Project, 2018
TU Eindhoven, in collaboration with LUCA school of arts
︎ Winner of
TEDx Awards DutchTechnologyWeek, 2018
︎ Presented on
PechaKucha Eindhoven, 2018
TEDx Eindhoven, 2019
YPO “Beyond The Wall - re-unite”, 2020
︎ Seleted for TED.com, 2020
Note: Due to privacy concerns, I can unfortunately not share further images of this project.