MATTHIJS DE BRUIJNE
his artistic practice is based in, and is part of, political involvement. His work explores the relations between economy, culture and
social life in order to achieve critical collective consciousness. During the last years it has taken the form of collaboration with
trade unions and other labor organizations.
His first working period in Argentina in 2001 can be seen as a major and radical turning point in his practice.
Amidst social conflicts and in the social reality of a bankrupt state, it became apparent that the position of the artist should be
more than just that of a reflecting outsider and that art could very well be a dynamic form actively at work within political struggles.
In Buenos Aires he made contact with the ‘cartoneros’: the poorest group of that city that lives from collecting and selling
garbage. For them, he designed
a mail order website where objects and dreams of the cartoneros are offered for sale.
During the period 2007-2009 De Bruijne travelled through China, collecting narratives of night dreams
from migrant workers who had moved to industrial centres from various parts of the country. These interviews were a result of
De Bruijne's collaboration with local activists and independent labour organisations. On the website
you can find the indirect testimonies of different generations of workers from Beijing to the Pearl River Delta.
These dreams are about aspirations, hardship, disillusion and persistence. The website and the installation made with the recorded
dreams creates a straightforward image of
life in contemporary China.
In the years that followed, De Bruijne has continued to shift his practice, working on a number of projects about the rise of
right wing populism in the Netherlands. In these works, the issue of labour in relation to migration became increasingly prominent.
In 2010 De Bruijne was invited by the Dutch Union of Cleaners FNV to work as an artist in helping this workers' organization visualise
their messages in a clear manner and to contribute in creating an identity for this often invisible part of the working class in the
Netherlands. The first work that resulted from this collaboration was
THE TRASH MUSEUM
a mobile museum that presents objects found by Dutch cleaners while working. The objects are presented in connection
with short stories about the labour conditions prevailing in the cleaning sector.
for more information: