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'One of the most connecting experiences I have had online'

Poetry, video editing, musical art: the first installment of the 48 Hour Project, in which students created a piece of art in only two days, has resulted in a wide variety of creativity. For participants, it was a glimmer of light in a rather dark year of lockdowns: “I felt like I was physically there with everyone”

Sleeping, studying and socialising, all in one and the same room. That’s what life looked like for many students during the past year. To give students at Leiden University the chance to meet new people, the Honours Academy organised the 48 Hour Project. In pairs, participants created an artistic product, which they presented to each other. Before they started, the students were given a theme to work with: Rooms.

Curious about the project's results? Take a look at the online exhibition!

> > Click here to see the exhibition


If you take a look at the online exposition, one thing will be clear: every pair has interpreted the theme in its own way. You will see physical rooms and dormitories, as well as mental rooms, such as a memory chamber and a musical space. One of the more conceptual art pieces is made by Marit Fokkink (Leiden University  College) and Anne Klewes (Psychology), who developed their interpretation of the theme on the go. “We asked ourselves: what is the craziest thing we can do in 48 hours?”

Eventually, they chose to depict dissociation, a word that describes how they felt during the lockdown. “Every day is the same,” explains Marit. “You are following a pattern, it doesn’t really feel like living.’” For them, the theme ‘rooms’ represented confinement, says Anne: “You are trapped in your own thoughts, unaware of your surroundings. It’s a hard place to be, mentally.”

Anne and Marit captured the feeling of dissociation in a ‘gif’, a video that keeps repeating itself – just like their days during quarantine. The gif shows a mask, waking up from its dissociated state, snapping back into reality. To create it, they used several artistic techniques: drawing, digital painting, video editing and stop motion. For the latter, they made numerous individual frames, which – taken together – create the illusion of motion. 

Friendly environment

Due to the corona measures, the presentations at the closing ceremony took place online. Nevertheless, the students could escape their mental confinement for a while, Anne explains: “After a year of not meeting new people, we suddenly found ourselves in a group of like-minded people.” Marit: “It was one of the most connecting experiences I have had online. I felt like I was physically there with everyone, even though I had never met them.”

The pair also learned a great deal from their participation. “I have never cooperated so intensively with someone before,” admits Marit. “You have to be flexible, alert, communicative – useful skills for future collaborations.” Although they did not know each other beforehand, their cooperation went surprisingly well. “I think people who love art all have that same common ground,” suggests Marit, to add with a wink: “Or maybe I just had a very nice partner.”

Want to see more of the 48 Hour Project? Take a look at the online exhibition!

Text: Michiel Knoester

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