Thursday 26th November 2015

The Kunstfront (A.K.A Mandril Culture Centre) is a cultural and political Centre is an open space for active participation in collective creative culture in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Juliette Callebaut, one of the people actively involved around the building granted us access to an interview. Juliette, from Brussels, started to be an active member earlier this year, she is studying at the the Maastricht Science Programme. Recently they have undergone some major changes and people are keen to know what is happening. She lends us an insight into the happenings of the process.

When did you decide to move into the Mandril?

In June 2015, but I was already involved beforehand. It started to take a big part of my life in April.

How do you feel in being such a tight community? What are your thoughts? Do you still feel like you have your personal space?

It is not easy, mostly when you realise that you are playing with balls in so many different courts because it is a project but also a project with being with each other and trying to rebuild the cultural centre into a public space. There are of course challenges that we face with the municipality as well as the creation of a group.. it is a lot of different balls which you need to learn how to juggle. But it is clearly overwhelming some times. I have always been in a situation where I have decided to be in social contact with people but here the situation is reverse you need to actively decide to take a moment for yourself. Ideally though if you have an infinite amount of energy you could always be present.

It is so nice that you are roped into this environment with people who you can feel safe with and be yourself... what are the kind of challenges you have faced when working on this project?

One of the main challenges is that we are all newbies, we have never opened up a door with our feet and none of us have any knowledge in electricity plumbing or building! There would always be these big words hanging over our heads like .. hmm Electricity, Water, Windows? and we had no clue how to go about it. For the electricity we contacted a lot of people from the LBB, and it turned out to be not that hard but time consuming, we would expect things to be finished in one week.. no hahahahaha it gets finished in a month! We are definitely learning a lot in the process; where to get new materials, where to get them cheaply.. The windows in the place was a big problem, they were all broken but now fixed.

Modjo - Lady, playing in the background

And when do you think the jam sessions will start up again?

Well we hope that the jam sessions will start when the basement is finished! We are just getting along and seeing how things work, there are different levels of challenges that need to be overcome, one being the building itself, there needs to be light, water and heating. But the foundation layer of the project is where we also ask ourselves what kind of social structures do we have in place so that we can have the events to run, and why are we here, what do we want to create? Sometimes its difficult to get everyone on common ground, but its becoming much more clear as time passes and will involve a bit more of self organisation within the group. The group is not even complete yet and are expecting more people…

Thank you to Juliette Callebaut for granting me access to speak to her and allowing Kichaka to publish this interview.