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... and other intimate questions about life in times of corona

Seven Amsterdam communities

Twelve local artists

Poster campaign throughout Amsterdam

Coincidental encounters and spontaneous conversations soon disappeared during the first lockdown. These unexpected and unintended contacts are one of the best things about living in a city. What replaces them during the coronavirus pandemic?

This question was also asked by community artists Merel Noorlander and Arthur Kneepkens. It took them some time to find out how to stay in conversation with the people living and working around them. The targeted communication of the video call, where the agenda of the conversation is fixed in advance, soon proved unsuitable for an open discussion about other people’s experiences.

Noorlander and Kneepkens therefore set up a platform to share stories and knowledge that needed to be heard right now. Together with ten other artists, they visited seven communities to ask people how they were really doing, what they needed, what expertise they could share with others, and what thoughts, habits, and feelings they wanted to remember after this crisis. In entryphone and balcony conversations, on closed wards and in (market) squares, they spoke to elderly people in nursing homes and adolescents in secondary education, market vendors, sex workers, artists, and many others.

The core of these conversations took the form of quotes, political and other statements, and poems. Graphic designer and artist Yuri Veerman created an overarching visual idiom for these, encapsulating all the diverse ideas in a series of eye-catching posters.

Large versions of these posters were displayed throughout the city, so that the various voices resounded throughout Amsterdam’s many cultures, despite the restrictions of lockdown. Dozens of Amsterdammers shared their thoughts about life during and after corona, creating a poetic note in the public space.


The artists and communities involved are:

Luan Buleshkaj and Fouad Lakbir – residents of West and Nieuw-West; in collaboration with the Gouden Mannen (and many other partners);

Janine Toussaint, Diane Elshout and Noud Verhave of Moving Arts Project – visitors and residents of the Krugerplein in Amsterdam Oost;

Claartje Chajes – elderly people from Noord, in collaboration with Cordaan;

Nina Karim van Oort – Heesterveld community; the community around the market on the Anton de Komplein; Hart voor de K-buurt, in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost.

Eva Gonggrijp – teenagers at various secondary schools in Amsterdam;

Rachel Rumai Diaz – female artists, poets and storytellers in Amsterdam;

Merel Noorlander and Arthur Kneepkens – online and offline sex workers and a passer-by; in cooperation with Trans United Europe/Trans BPOC European network and PIC in Amsterdam-Centrum.

All of the posters and details of the project’s background can be seen on the interactive Instagram page at This is maintained by Jovana Stulic (assistance/PR) and Arthur Kneepkens and Merel Noorlander (initiators).


Initiators of #Howareyoureallydoing
Merel Noorlander and Arthur Kneepkens have previously set up participatory urban planning projects at Theaterstraat (De Nieuwe Banne). They are currently investigating the relationship between art institutions and gentrification in a new participatory museum with the working title SAM (Social Art Museum), in a co-production of Theaterstraat and TAAK. Assistance: Jovana Stulic.

The Theaterstraat is a collective of theatre makers based in the Rietwijker, in the north of Amsterdam Noord, on the outskirts of the city, but at the heart of society.

Partners of #HoeGaatHetEchtMetJe: Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst (AFK), Centercom, Cordaan, DeGasten, DWCprint, Fonds voor Noord, Framer Framed, City of Amsterdam | Stadsdeel West, Moving Arts Project, Over het IJ, PIC Amsterdam, Podium Mozaïek, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Spoken Stories, Stichting Heesterveld, TAAK, Theaterstraat, Trans United Europe/Trans BPOC European network, Amsterdam.

This room is curated by:
Merel Noorlander en Arthur Kneepkens

Merel Noorlander (b. 1984) is a visual artist, art educator, and curator. She creates alternative stories and platforms based on contemporary urban and social issues, and presents these in a crossover of art disciplines, technology, performance, and social design.

She and Arthur Kneepkens are the initiators of SAM and De Nieuwe Banne, creating and researching speculative social design in the public space with residents, artists, and the municipality. Noorlander runs her own studio, and is currently studying for a master’s in fine arts specialising in 4D design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she expects to graduate in 2022. She has a long-established practice in Amsterdam Noord, and frequently works with cultural partners in the Netherlands and abroad.

Arthur Kneepkens (b. 1981) is a curator, director, dramaturge, performer, and programme maker. Since 2013 he has been an active member of Theaterstraat: a collective of independent artists who create work in, for and with Amsterdam Noord, described as “on the edge of the city, at the heart of society”.

After graduating from the Maastricht Theatre Academy in 2005, Kneepkens worked for Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Likeminds, and Stichting Kata/Edit Kaldor, among others. He has been a guest lecturer at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, and Fontys Tilburg, and currently lectures at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (DAS Theatre and Drama teacher fast track programme). He teaches dramaturgy, environmental sensitivity, and the ethics of community art.

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Soundtrackcity met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Het huis van Amsterdam