Project : Disconnected – Thisconnected World

A socially engaged art performance about poverty & inequality in collaboration with Het Geluid 

After two months of research on poverty and inequality concerning women in Maastricht, a group of first-year students invited an audience into an empty house at Stokstraat 57. Having been considered one of the poorest and notoriously problematic neighbourhoods in Maastricht in the first half of the 20th century, today the street is known as very luxurious. A voice invited the audience into the house and an upstairs room. In a performance installation, a story about women in poverty was told without a woman appearing. During their research the group had discovered that it is anything but easy to get into contact with women living in poverty, due to their risk of showing vulnerability and shame. This is why the students decided to present a work about the mechanism of anonymity and the distance between underprivileged women and the rest of society. 

Individual 3-minute performances and an extensive research process about ‘poverty’ led to a dinner show and escape room:

  • The audience was led into the “Food Bank” area where the main course of their performance was served: Cuisine du Clochard. Inspired by the theme of inequality, an unexpected dish was determined at random — simulating the feeling associated with economic injustice. In presenting intricate storytelling and various performance elements, they confronted the audience.
  • When dessert was served, the focus shifted to studies on poverty related to prostitution, inspired by field research: going undercover in an erotic massage parlour as a potential employee. This extremely informative experience led the group to the conclusion that their preconceived view of this lifestyle was widely inaccurate, which is why they tried to break down these same notions.
  • With ‘Appetize Empathy’ they created an open environment to stimulate communication between different social groups. All different social classes were invited to have dinner together, but with a twist. At the beginning, the different classes were all separated from one another by a set of walls that were removed gradually over the course of the meal.