The online exhibition The Human Power Plant (2050) takes you to the year 2050 in Rotterdam’s Bospolder-Tussendijken (BoTu) neighbourhood, where residents have once again taken ownership of their energy production and usage. Energy is required for almost everything, making it the Achilles heel of our society. But who owns it and how is it provided? Who has access to it and how much can you use? These issues, which are crucial for a sustainable future, are rarely mentioned in discussions about sustainability, but they are central to The Human Power Plant (2050).
The basis of the exhibition is an interactive drawing by the artist Melle Smets. His work is a quest for alternative forms of living, which he develops with local residents as urban public artworks. Together with journalist Kris De Decker, he has undertaken an investigation into a human-powered neighbourhood, showing that people do not have to be dependent on large utility or tech companies and a government that regulates everything. People can generate their own energy for everything they need. The key concepts for a human-powered neighbourhood are: cooperation, sharing and learning from the past, from each other and from nature.
To see and to do
Smets has mapped out the human-powered neighbourhood in the form of a narrative drawing. The museum has followed his artistic research from the beginning and is now presenting his work in an online design exhibition. Each coloured dot provides access to a digital space, where audio, video and/or text are used to delve deeper into a particular theme. From each of these spaces you can click through to relevant publications. You can click on the arrows at the bottom to follow the story as it is set up, but you can also determine your own order and roam freely through the neighbourhood.
In the podcast made and narrated by Babette Rijkhoff, Melle Smets and city guide Stefanie Korrel accompany you through the neighbourhood, where you will also hear from several local residents:
- Jaques Stoppelenburg, BoTu’s oldest resident, talks about the catastrophe that is hanging over our heads
- Michael Siem has opened up his garage box to help others
- Ayşe Yalçınkaya Budaklier talks about baking flatbreads
- Fatiha Zabouti talks about how she used to do her laundry
- David Montero is a volunteer at the Voedseltuin Rotterdam
In the video series, Kris De Decker and curator Annemartine van Kesteren search for pieces in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection that relate in different ways to the themes of the Human Power Plant. The texts and linked publications are intended to inspire you and get you thinking. How will you live in 2050?