MEREL SMITT is an interdisciplinary artist based in Rotterdam and works as a director, intervention-maker, organizer and researcher. Her live-art projects take place at the intersection of performative interventions, socially engaged art and cultural activism. Her work is developed site-specific in public spaces, in collaborations with different communities, activists, academics, philosophers, peers and experts. Her artistic projects are carried out through active participation of different groups of audience and can be seen as methodologies to reclaim spaces, disrupt systems and build platforms in which exchange, gathering, solidarity and support is possible. In this way, participants gain the opportunity to experience themselves, others and the world in a new and different way.
Merel shares her artistic tools with whomever can benefit from it inside and outside the artistic field. Her artistic practice has been supported by several platforms in the European contemporary art scene such as SICK! Festival (UK), Metropolis Københvn (DK), Oerol (NL), Lokomotiva (NMK) Over Het IJ Festival (NL), Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam (NL), Giungla Festival (IT), STORMOPKOMST (BE), IN-SITU European Network, ACT (Art Climate Change) and other venues and institutions in The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Bucharest, New York, France, Belgium and Italy.
“I call out to every body to join me and explore in an intimate yet collective way the dynamics and rules that we produce, follow and maintain on a personal, political and societal level. We need all the different perspectives together, form a temporary gang and start making a little bit of trouble. We go on quests, adventures and missions that enable us to think on our own and dismantle the processes that keep us in place by ruling us, molding us, generalizing us, breaking us, controlling us, dividing us, mocking us, excluding us, making money off of us, objectifying us and ignoring us.
I create interventions in different kind of spaces that meddle with our daily lives. They originate and result in installations, websites, questionnaires, safety protocols, fictional institutions, fictional campaigns, walks, audio-tours, workshops, role playing games, scores, mail art and waiting and so on. In each intervention participants come together in physical spaces such as train stations, restaurants, city offices, parks, libraries, waiting rooms, public squares, academies, streets, neighborhoods or digital spaces and claim back their territories by playing games with the established rules. When joining my interventions you are always together and never alone, you will show courage and experience bravery, you will have fun and be confronted, you will overcome all sorts of feelings and put yourself at risk. You will both experience the impact and at the same time become the impact for others.
I am plotting, scheming and carrying my work solely together with others. Fellow conspirators contributed as participants, thinkers, performers, graphic designers, web designers, dramaturges, scientists, citizens, thinkers, activists, government and social workers, companies and anyone who wants to offer their perspective.
Some interventions require a physical presence, are imbedded in cultural programs or independently set up in public spaces but others can be engaged with from your home using the internet, your telephone or non-electronic mail. By creating different types of interventions with different threshold levels it is possible for everybody to join the work at some point to set something in motion and respond to the harsh reality.
Using the realm of the public space and my everyday life as a stage plus collaborating with non-artistic fields generates the freedom to not solely depend on the known production structures in the art field but allows me to find non-capitalist forms of creating in which the artist is fully in charge of their own artistic practice and the outcome is always influenced by the process. My work can therefor always respond to the actual context and is constantly moving and collaborating with fluctuating circumstances to be able to take place at all times, wherever I am and whatever the circumstances are. We could do it right now.”