Merel Smitt

“In my third year of the theatre-academy in Maastricht I started working more research based, creating documentary pieces.
Under the supervision of Carina Molier I created my first site specific project in collaboration with a convent in Maastricht.
I observed the habits and whereabouts of the nuns and build a replicate of their world in a church. The nuns were present in the installation so the audience could really participate in this unfamiliar world. I realised that by giving my audience an active role they could actively engage with the subjects and matters I was confronting them with. I challenged them to form opinions, exchange these with each other and therefore creating room to reflect upon our place in society. Up until now I created pieces where the audience is actively present and is co-creating with me. When the audience is present the piece starts, before that my work is just a concept, a set of rules and agreements. Since then my work evolved from being documentary to more imaginative worlds.”




I create dystopian future visions of what society will look like under certain circumstances and most importantly how we as human beings cope with societal issues, how it influences our behaviour and interactions with each other. I call my work Social Science Fiction how because the border between fiction and non-fiction is very diffuse. This leads the audience to doubt what is real and what is made up. The creation of doubt is very important because it leads to reflection and questioning.

Recent projects consist of imaginary bureaucratic organisations with a social and political background. I come up with these organisations myself, I design them, write their vision and pretend they are real. With this I try to reduce large social and societal processes to a human scale. I expose the effect of bureaucratic systems on human behaviour and the way we interact. Therefor it sometimes looks like a social experiment. There are rules, there are participants and it is fictional.

The audience ends up at an information day, becomes part of a client’s treatment program or is asked to help set up a campaign. They are more a participant than a spectator and they become part of the artistic work. They are forced to question the issues I’m raising as an individual or as a group. This interaction and participation determines the course and outcome of the performance because their behaviour, choices and reactions are different all the time.

To shape the actual and artistic content I collaborate with performers, graphic designers, webdesigners and form my content by researching different perspectives of philosophers, government and social workers, company’s and experts. My work is very much interdisciplinary and not to be called just theater. It is performative but it is also participatory, graphical, visual and sometimes even activism.





Merel is a part of the artist collective Time Window. Time Window is a self-organised community of 45 artists of various disciplines. Initiated by Judith Schoneveld and Jette Schneider, created by the artists.
The goal was to create 24/7 accessible workspace for the performing arts in Rotterdam. At Time Window artists collaborate in their own practices sharing knowledge, networks and expertise. “Do it yourself, but not alone”.
The collective also curates festivals and events that are open to the public. It forms an important part in creating an honest and sustainable art practice for performing artists.





Download CV van Merel Smitt