There is now a special exhibition in the Maastunnel: Ecosystem. It is an initiative of Zineb Seghrouchni and the new cultural agency and platform DAR she founded.
The project is layered: the photos were taken by two young Rotterdam photographers, Tarona and Sharon Jane D. In triptychs, they show artists at their workplace, flanked by photos of their environment, their ecosystem. Because the two photographers are part of the group they portray, there are also two self-portraits; one on either side of the tunnel. Tarona: “We are a community and it is important that we know each other that we are there, and that we are interconnected – much more than we think.”
The artists also belong to the group of people Seghrouchni focuses on with DAR: “Creatives who may do things slightly differently than what is taught at the art academies. Who work intrinsically internationally due to their layered identity and background; artists who relate to their environment in their own way. With their work they challenge us to think, to recognize and to appreciate differently.”
Seghrouchni has a background in urban planning and architecture and has led the international program of the Creative Industries Fund for the past five years. She believes in hybrid forms of art and design, and noticed that things weren’t going fast enough for her in the large institute. “The innovation no longer comes from there. I want to strengthen the creative practices that represent a new normal. This requires access. There are interesting and good artists who have little or no access to stages, exhibition space, opportunities and possibilities that lead to sustainable development. While art and design are of great value in these uncertain times of pandemic, climate crisis and social inequality, because they tell stories and show how we can live together with trust, hope and dignity. From different perspectives.”
Sharon Jane D says that in Rotterdam she learned what visual language can mean for society, and for herself in society. “Capturing the artists and their ecosystem in this city is confirmation for me that we can reflect even more on things and stories that make us who we are.”
What attracted Seghrouchni to an exhibition in the Maastunnel is, among other things, the character of the place. “An intersection of architecture, urban development and everyday life. Then you add art to that. And with 7,000 passers-by per day, Ecosystem is now one of the most visited exhibitions in the Netherlands,” she laughs.
For the exhibition, she talked to twelve artists based in Rotterdam. To give the exhibition, which is very local by nature, some international reach, she created an Instagram page for Ecosystem, which includes audio fragments of the conversations (@theartistsecosystem). “Ecosystem was also an opportunity for me to talk to the people for whom DAR exists. And these 12 creatives are just the beginning”
Ecosystem can be seen in the Maastunnel until the end of February. The photo exhibition was created through a collaboration between DAR, CBK Rotterdam and the Municipality of Rotterdam.