The Subtle Art of Making Neighbours
intersection Amsterdamsestraatweg and Mimosastraat, Utrecht
A street art project on the wall of an apartment building in Utrecht tells you something about the reading tastes of local residents. Created earlier this year by Dutch street artists JanIsDeMan and Deef Feed, the three-storey mural covers the side wall of a brick building in the city’s northern suburbs.
The artists originally planned to paint a large smiley face on the wall, but then they came up with a more original concept. After talking to local residents to find out what books they liked to read, they covered the wall with a library featuring 32 books in seven languages.
The giant mural offers an intriguing insight into contemporary Dutch reading habits. Several of the books are Dutch childrens’ classics such as Jip en Janneke, Nijntje op de Fiets and Dolfje Weerwolfje. The residents also proposed serious books such as Sapiens and Khaled Hosseini’s Duizend Schitterende Zonnen (Thousand Splendid Suns). Someone picked Le Petit Prince in French as her favourite. Another resident proposed The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck in English. You will also spot Hendrik Groen’s Pogingen iets van het leven to maken (Attempts to Make Something of Life) and the UK bestseller Het Meisje op de Trein (The Girl on the Train).
‘The neighbourhood where this work was made is filled with different cultures,’ Jan said in an interview. ‘And I’ve noticed that this project has brought people together without forcing it. They meet each other through books, regardless of differences.’
© Maria Postema