The words Entre Nous are French and mean 'between us', they refer to the title of an exercise during my obligatory time in the military that aimed to increase the fraternization among the conscripts.
Base camp Entre Nous derived from the interesting history of The Society of Humanitarianism (Maatschappij van Weldadigheid). It was a Dutch private organization set up in 1818 by general Johannes van den Bosch. This utopian initiative aimed to help the poor families in the aftermath of the Napoleonic French occupation by granting them farming land. From the whole of the Netherlands people were sent to Drenthe in order to get a better life. The experiment eventually lost its public support but it served as a model for the current welfare state. Today Dutch politicians argue that this model is also no longer efficient and too expensive, a clear alternative besides privatization of parts seems missing.
Base camp Entre Nous was a temporary laboratory, a test colony where the search for new sustainable possibilities for the Dutch welfare state was leading. It functioned as an humanitarian military base where during a period of one month (instead of soldiers) twelve artists were living and working. These craftsmen are residing at the periphery of our society, lacking a clear market for their specific expertise. Therefore it is urgent to provide them infrastructure in exchange for their craftsmanship and to activate their potential.
The artists in residence were shortlisted by curators from art institutions throughout the Netherlands, like in the past the poor and homeless were selected by departments of 'The Society'. During their stay in this compound it was their role to transform local qualities, expertise and resources towards a future plan - engaging an actual social topic in the municipality Westerveld. Strong proposals would be developed further in a later stage.
An active side program was organized where multidisciplinary guest speakers who were invited could stay in this base camp and share their knowledge with the audience. They were giving lectures, workshops and fueled debates around the actual questions people in the municipality Westerveld were facing. To achieve our goals we collaborated for example with Netwerk Democratie dedicated to a resilient democracy where citizens are more involved by using technology to contribute actively. The Creative Care Lab from Waag Society which looks at the responsibility of artists and citizens with respect to the major and significant changes in health care. In cooperation with the military academy (the NLDA) questions about conflict studies and humanitarian missions were highlighted. How do these missions in our world full of conflicts function?
Base camp Entre Nous followed the concept of #theorganisation and provided a real experimental and collaborative space that stimulated out of the box thinking and informal exchange of knowledge and resources to serve society as a whole. Its level of success was highly depending on the effort and generosity of all the 'shareholders' that helped to realize and visualize the outcome of this art project.