One Day of Free Help

Break with social spectatorship

One Day of Free Help

Since my graduation at the art academy, I began researching how to create a deeper connection with my public through participation.

During a research period at the No Academy, artists were linked to institutions that faced a pressing social issue. I noticed that I and my fellow artists, like the institutions, were experiencing a kind of paralysis: trying to come up with theoretical answers to the questions and not venturing into society.

With the conviction that you can better ‘think through doing’ and that the practice offers many times more interesting insights than a sterile laboratory environment, I offered ‘Een Dag Gratis Hulp / A Day Of Free Help’ to all residents of Amsterdam.

I made a list of all my capabilities, from organizing to brainstorming to cooking and doing construction jobs, and distributed this in the form of flyers and posters throughout Amsterdam. When a local newspaper devoted an article on its front page to this project, the reactions poured in. I helped people every day for two months. From rich to poor, I ended up in all layers of society.

A selection of helped people

A selection of helped people
How to document such an immaterial performance as ‘A Day Of Free Help’? Here you see a selection of helped people. But is this enough? Does it show the value of the artistic idea?
When I do lectures about my projects I tell the story behind the previous picture. It is a sort of ‘International Situationist’ action, where you should not be a spectator to the artwork, but should instead use the recipe of the artwork to have the experience yourself.


One minute video ‘commercial’ a day of free help, made with Matthijs Bredewold & Ulrik Kristensen

Item on local television, where I help the great artist Merapi Obermayer, ‘Van Zuks’, RTV Noord-Holland