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.”

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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 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.





Het atelier van Merel is gevestigd in Rotterdam. Als onderdeel van het kunstenaarscollectief Time Window heeft ze dagelijks verschillende faciliteiten tot haar beschikking om haar werk te kunnen uitvoeren, zoals bijvoorbeeld repetitieruimtes.
Bijzonder aan Time Window is de manier waarop de 40 gehuisveste kunstenaars binnen Time Window samenwerken door elkaars expertise en aanwezigheid in te zetten voor hun eigen praktijk.
Dit vormt een belangrijk aspect voor het creëren van een eerlijke en duurzamere kunstenpraktijk waarin ruimte kan worden gecreëerd voor het artistieke proces. Vanuit haar atelier werkt Merel samen met een eigen team om haar projecten te realiseren.





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