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spaghetti bij de buurman  |  spaghetti at the neighbor's


Work in progress consisting of a series of portraits of my neighbors who are invited to eat and meet at my place. I live in an apartment block in the Burghplan district, one of the “intervention areas” indicated by the municipality of Eindhoven as neighborhoods with an issue of social cohesion and isolation. I have lived in this block for three years and have hardly met any people at this time. I think this is a real pity: we all live close to each other yet are not in contact with each other. At the same time, I find this missing interaction fascinating and inspiring, as it feels like a powerful unexpressed potential that each of us deep inside urges to release. It’s called “propinquity” in environmental psychology: that “nearness” feeling of being close to each other, which is so beneficial for any social cohesion and community-building aspiration (Bell et al, 2001).

The contradiction between our innate inclination to propinquity and the diffuse state of isolation in the urban context is the topic this project aims to focus on – a contradiction that the recent pandemic crisis and the enforced social distancing have dramatically exacerbated, making that fundamental human longing for connection and intimacy even stronger.

So I decided to invite my neighbors, in small groups at a time, for a casual dinner. This opportunity may allow the chance to get to know each other and create more connections between the residents.

During dinner, I make photo portraits of my guests and invite them to share something personal. What brought them here? How do the residents of this neighborhood feel about their life? What are their dreams and wishes? The portraits are meant to shed light on the unknown, unbridled, underexposed individual – the anonymous city dweller of the social housing and their unique story.

Perhaps the first step towards social cohesion and place attachment might just be a simple plate of spaghetti during pandemic times...

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