Public Faculty

Public Faculty

Learning from a place through a process of knowledge exchange and cohabitation forms the basis of Public Faculty. PF uses strategies to re-think, re-define, and re-enter Public Space through collective cultural action. #deeplistening #collectivelearning

Public Faculty references to Joseph Beuys’ seminal work ‘Richtkräfte’ (Directive Forces), an installation of 100 blackboards created for public discussions and later held at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London in 1974. Using Steiner’s concept of ‘thought drawings,’ Beuys used chalk on blackboard to communicate to his audience the basic principles of his theory of ‘social sculpture’ – freedom, direct democracy and sustainable economic forms – and illustrate his “anthropologic construct” for a better world.


Jeanne van Heeswijk believes that "radicalising the local" is one of the most important things in the effort to develop communities.

For somebody to be a citizen, to take part in the shaping of a city, there has to be a sense of belonging. This is the premise of much of the work that Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk concerns herself with. She believes that the people in a community are the best suited to developing, improving and managing the interests in that community.

At Design Indaba Conference 2013 Van Heeswijk spoke about the public space projects she is involved, with specific references to one in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and one in Liverpool in the UK. For her, creating public faculty starts with embedding oneself into the community and just going and speaking to people. People need to be engaged in a conversation with each other to learn how to collectively think about organising issues of public interest and concern.

As an artists Van Heeswijk is concerned with the question of how the skills of the artist or designers can be applied for social good in a complex world that is undergoing rapid change and experiencing pressure from the forces of globalisation.

In developing urban communities Van Heeswijk proposes that two important things need to happen. The one is that local production needs to be radicalised, so that the community can tap into existing qualities in the area and find ways of making this more tangible and more visible. Secondly, Van Heeswijk says, communities need to be encouraged and assisted to take matters into their own hands -- to create their own antidote.

Repetition is arguably the most important element of urban activities for Van Heeswijk. "Repeat, repeat, repeat, learn, make mistakes, test again, re-take, try again, do it again and again," she says. And in all of this it is important to get the skills of different people in the community involved.

Van Heeswijk also spoke about the notion of a creative city, organisational forms in community building, storytelling and the importance of thinking about a neighbourhood as a small-scale alternative.


Public Faculty no. 1
City Park, Skopje, Macedonia
01 Oct. 2008/ 05 Oct. 2008

Who cares?

Duration: 01.10.2008-05.10.2008
Location: Skopje
Participants: 50
Visitors: Visitors Skopje City Park
Number of Events: 6

The project took place in the Skopje City Park from October 1st until October 5th 2008. Every day from 12:00 - 17:00 o'clock except for Saturday (October 4th) Jeanne van Heeswijk had a talk that was broadcasted live on the radio station Channel 103. Public Faculty No. 1 was specially commissioned public project in the framework of the Visiting Curatorial Initiative programme of press to exit project space. This work questions the function of public space in a contemporary city and the notion of the increasing regulations and limitations that imply a disabled form of social interaction.

Public Faculty No. 1 will took place on the recognizable Shkolka (Shell) Stage in the Skopje City Park. During the designated hours, lessons, discussions and workshops where staged. All the activities where open to the public and help to define the local notions of publicness, its presence or non-presence in local, regional and wider European context, and its identity as a site for action and conflict. Shkolka (Shell) Stage functioned as a white board where each day a new specific theme was discussed and lectured about.

Public Faculty no. 2
Oleanderplein, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
09 Feb. 2010/ 10 Feb. 2010

Wishful behaviour

Duration: 09.29.2010 - 10.02.2010
Location: Oleanderplein
Participants: 50
Number of Events: 3

In April 2010 Jeanne van Heeswijk moved into her new studio at the Sint Andriestraat in the Oleander Neighbourhood in the South of Rotterdam. Three empty shops and two apartments next to the Oleander square. A square with a bad reputation due to cultural nuisance. It is small square with a playground, a football field and 14 benches. There is always a mixed group of people present at the square. Mothers with children, groups of young and old men, Antillean, Turkish, Moroccan, Dutch and Bulgarian people. The square is lively and divers and it quickly felt like home.

At the 18th of August 2010 there was a shooting incident that attracted a lot of media attention. The local government reacted imiddiately with 24-hour surveillance, mobile camera's, an urban marine, police by car, by motorbike, by horse, by bike and walking around a by then empty square. The result was al lot of insecurity in the neighbourhood and the question was how to pick up the conversation again.

Public Faculty No. 2 questioned the role of public space in the contemporary city and the notion of the increasing regulations and limitations that imply a feeling of safety. Whenever somebody sat down a bench immediately a waiter came out with a beautifully set table and offered coffee or tea. It was the start of a conversation about the perception of the square and what is desirable cultural behaviour. The answers and thoughts where written on the table cloth. A cup of coffee as an urban intervention.

Public Faculty no. 3
Vranje, Serbia
04 Feb. 2012/ 04 Mar. 2012


Public Faculty No.3 took place in Vranje, Serbia in collaboration with the NGO Generator. Generator was founded in January of 2001 by a group of young activists from Vranje as an association of citizens with the primary aim of promoting and preserving culture, art, with a focus on youth in multiethnic southern Serbia.

Over a four day period a temporary mobile statue was moved to various location in the city that are underused publicly to draw attention and spark debate around issues of publicness and public space.

The mobile statue, a base on wheels with on top the ‘old’ children’s play horse, that had ben for years located in one of the main shop, now empty. An old mechanic horse that was ridden by children in the end of eighties, and that is commonly known in Vranje. It was wheeled around the city by young people (like a parade). Locations that were chosen were: old swimming pool Dolphin, map of the city in front of statue of "Čika Mita", the empty new Culture center, and green surface in front of Teacher education faculty. In all of these places, passers were asked to ride the horse and to give their opinion about unused public spaces, and about how they can be used, primarily for use of culture.

Public Faculty no. 4
Hayward Gallery, London
07 Jul. 2012/ 07 Oct. 2012

Public learning

Duration: 07.07.2012 - 07.10.2012
Location: In front of the Hayward Gallery
Participants: 50
Number of Events: 4

Public Faculty No. 4 part of Wide Open School at the Hayward Gallery

Over the course of four days, Jeanne van Heeswijk speaks with philosopher Johan Siebers and Psychoanalyst Maaike Engelen about learning in public spaces. For Public Faculty no. 4, they will be situated in front of the Hayward Gallery where they will discuss with anyone who wants to participate, the idea that public space can facilitate responsible and collective learning in society.

Public Faculty series.
The idea of the Public Faculty series is to engage in learning through a process of knowledge exchange within the context of a certain place. It references Beuys’s seminal work ‘Richtkräfte’ (Directive Forces), an installation of 100 blackboards created for public discussions and later held at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London in 1974. Using Rudolf Steiner’s concept of ‘thought drawings’, Beuys used chalk on blackboard to communicate to his audience the basic principles of his theory of ‘social sculpture’ – freedom, direct democracy and sustainable economic forms. In this way Beuys illustrated his “anthropologic construct” for a better world.

Public Faculy seeks to ‘draw out’ the anticipated conversations and findings by slowly building a visual analogy of its presence in the city. By taking these conversations outside it undertakes strategies for rethinking, redefining and re-entering public space through collective cultural action.

Venue: Outside in front the Hayward Gallery

Public Faculty no. 5
Copenhagen, Denmark
24 Aug. 2012/ 27 Aug. 2012

We just talk

Duration: 24.08.2012 - 27.08.2012
Location: Main shopping street Copenhagen
Participants: 14
Visitors: 90
Number of Events: 4

Public Faculty No. 5 was part of Copenhagen Art Festival

Over four afternoons, Jeanne van Heeswijk in collaboration with Rasmus Ugilt from Centre for Wild Analysis, local experts and everyone who would like to join in, will produce public signboards that comment on the financial savings measures taking place all over Europe. The open workshop will attempt to extract parts of public conversations about how we can be more inventive and sustainable in our way of life in order to make them visible in the public arena.

Public Faculty, which has previously taken place in Macedonia, the Netherlands, Serbia and England, refers to Joseph Beuys’s epochmaking work ’Richtkräfte’, an installation with 100 blackboards created for public discussion. The idea is to engage in learning by means of exchanging knowledge in a certain locality. By visualising the discourses, the signs set a rethinking of the public arena in motion through collective cultural action. Driven by a belief in the connection between art, life and space, Jeanne van Heeswijk engages herself in local communities and involves the public in social projects with communication and change as the objective. The projects take place in the public space, which is explored, reshuffled and used as a platform for interaction and cultural production to provide new communities with the possibility of growing.

Public Faculty no. 6
Gent, Belgium
05 Mar. 2013/ 07 Mar. 2013

Het Serieus Kantoor van de Getikte Meningen

Public Faculty format used by 'Het Serieus Kantoor van de Getikte Meningen'

Het Serieus Kantoor van de Getikte Meningen is a realization of city's collective gURBS in response to the Studium Generale around the Sustainable City (CDO - UGent)

Public Faculty no. 7
Helvetiaplatz, Zurich, Switzerland
01 Jun. 2013/ 04 Jun. 2013


The Postgraduate Programme in Curating ZHdK, in cooperation with Jeanne van Heeswijk, presents the 7th installment of the Public Faculty series in Zurich. In this edition, the series comes to “Europe's Landlocked Island” of Switzerland to question the idea of borders, as well as notions requisite for the enforcement of this idea, such as security, solidarity, and compliance.

Switzerland has a history of strong borders and an established tradition of civil defense to enforce it. But what does that mean now in the 21st century, when borders have become virtual as well as physical? What is it that needs protection? People? Assets? Institutions? And what does that need protection from? War? Global crises? Science? The Internet? Have existing measures of Civil Defense become merely symbolic, only an image we need to feel secure? In this age of civil airplanes as terrorist weapons, what are we willing to give up for our protection? Liquids? Swiss-Army knives? Shoes? Underwear? How about civil liberty? Privacy? Minarets? How far are we willing to comply? Is protection ultimately a self-inflicted trap? How about the other venerated Swiss traditions of neutrality and diplomacy? Are they not more relevant than ever before? Is there not strength in communities? Is protection not built on solidarity?

We’re sure you have something to say. Or ask. So come down and talk. Or listen. You can also follow the conversation online on Twitter (#pf7); a live Twitter feed of the event will be on display at the ZHdK Diploma Exhibition. Whichever way you do it, make sure you grab the chance to contribute to this Public Faculty!

About the Location:
The Public Faculty will take place at between Helvetiaplatz and the Kanzleiareal in Zurich where many segments of the public are to be found. Public demonstrations in Zurich originate there and, according to the city-tourism website, it is “Zürich’s multicultural quarter”. Interestingly, the area also happens to sit on top of one of the main bunkers in the city.

Public Faculty no. 8
Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
04 Jun. 2014/ 07 Jun. 2013

Canvassing desires of the street

For four days, Public Faculty No 8, Los Angeles will be located on and around Hollywood Boulevard, where many segments of the public are to be found. The project will engage in informal conversations with passers-by on the desires and expectations for the future of the neighborhood. It will visually map out a dialog in text and drawings about those who are affected by the redevelopment of Hollywood, exploring the idea of publicness and its relation to active citizenship in our global cities.

Events are in collaboration with community organizing groups including LA Voice, Yucca Corridor Coalition, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles, and My Friend's Place.

Wednesday June 4, noon-4PM - in front of Hollywood High School
with Dont Rhine and Ultra-red
Writing by Melinda Guillen and Drawing by Emilio (EJ) Venegas Jr.

Thursday June 5, 4PM-8PM - corner of Yucca St. and Cahuenga Blvd.,
with LA Voice and Yucca Corridor Coalition
Writing by Melinda Guillen and drawing by Monica Martinez

Friday June 6, 8am-12pm - near LACE
with Karla Diaz and My Friend's Place.
Writing by Melinda Guillen and drawing Monica Martinez

Saturday June 7, 8PM-midnight - bus stop at Vine St. and Hollywood Blvd,
with Christina Sanchez Juarez and Cayetano Juarez and Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles
Writing by Erick Huerta and drawing by Emilio (EJ) Venegas Jr.

Public Faculty No.8, Los Angeles was developed through conversations with Christina Sanchez Juarez and Cayetano Juarez, Karla Diaz and Mario Ybarra Jr., Dont Rhine and Ultra-red, Carol Zou, Anne Bray, Jacqueline Bell, and Carol Stakenas.

The project is initiated by Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and organized in collaboration with Carol Zou. Photograph by, and courtesy of, Carol Zou.

Public Faculty No.8, Los Angeles: Canvassing desires of the street is made possible through support from the Department of Cultural Affairs: Cultural Exchange International Program. Additional support is provided by Otis College of Art and Design: Public Practice.

Support for LACE and its programs are provided by the Getty Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, James Irvine Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Metabolic Studio, the Audrey & Sydney Irmas Charitable Foundation, the Visual Artists Network, a program of the National Performance Network, Stone Brewing Co., and the members of LACE.

Public Faculty no. 9
Queens, New York
31 Jan. 2015/ 17 May. 2015


Do you feel connected? What makes you feel connected? What makes you feel disconnected? Who or what do you wish you could connect with? How would you go about doing that?

Over the past 4 months a group of over 20 artists, educators, and organizers have met at a monthly workshop led by artist Jeanne Van Heeswijk to discuss what it means to truly connect in a place as diverse as Queens. We took these conversations to the street from may 14-17. For 4 days of public conversations and reflections, delving deep into questions of connection and build connections. The conversation took place in various locations in Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona and Junction Blvd.

The Queens Museum’s Open A.I.R. Artist Services Program invited artists, cultural and community organizers, educators, and community members invested in long-term work with immigrant communities, youth, communities of color, queer communities and low-income communities to join in the development of the Public Faculty no. 9, a multi-session collective learning experience. The Queens Museum has long prioritized embedded community work seeing itself as a neighbor in the community and valuing cross-disciplinary partnerships. QM believes in the importance of accessibility of public space and the need for community voices organizing around community issues.

Public Faculty no. 10
Stolipinovo, Bulgary
20 Jun. 2015/ 24 Jun. 2015

Faculty in Stolipinovo

As part of the One Architecture Week in Plovdiv, 2015. The focus of the ten-day festival was the river Maritsa, and the edition was named "Uncommon River". During the Ottoman era, the river flowed through what is today Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. The way people used the Riverside and water back then aligns very much with our contemporary understanding of the commons as something that we share together but which doesn't belong to anyone. With the advent of modernity and the drawing of those national borders we know today, the river became a no man's land. — Merve Bedir (Curator of the One Architecture Week in Plovdiv)

Jeanne van Heeswijk led "Faculty in Stolipinovo". The workshop investigated ways in which spaces could be related to innovative social en economic practices in the Stolipinovo neighborhood of Plovdid, through a process of knowledge exchange between the Roma community and local residents. We organized some workshops with the Roma people there, where we discussed with them how they relate to the river.

Helped by a group of some Bulgarian students and recent graduates, and assisted by a local NGO, a group of young Roma boys was gathered. With them we developed a song, which expresses their personal frustrations about their position in society. The boys performed the song in 4 consecutive days, each time moving closer to the city centre.

Public Faculty no. 11
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York
20 Oct. 2016/ 23 Oct. 2016

Imagining a Curriculum in Sunset Park

Imagining a Curriculum for Sunset Park was envisioned as a tool to unearth the voices of residents, parents, students, and teachers from an immigrant neighborhood where basic services have not satisfied some of the needs of its increasing population due to lack of public investment and attention.

An initial open-ended question was formulated: What makes a good school? With follow up questions that included: What is a good school for you?, What makes a good space for learning?, and What is your favorite thing/aspect about school/learning?. The locations for conversations were discussed during the workshop and places where the different local communities - Chinese, Hispanic and Middle Eastern - congregate were selected.

A large white board was used to document the conversations each day. The board served not only as a sketchbook to archive different voices but also as a space for knowledge exchange. The most recurrent topics addressed collaboration between schools and families, budget for enrichment programs, embracing cultural and language differences, the need for after-school programs to assist immigrant and working parents, as well as other issues related to the lack of quality spaces for regular instruction, enrichment classes, recess and other learning environments capable to facilitate education improvement.

Public Faculty no. 12
IGA Kienberg Park, Berlin, Germany
27 Jul. 2017/ 30 Jul. 2017


From 27 until 30 July 2017, Jeanne van Heeswijk invited artists and IGA visitors to the “Unkrautlabor. A Public Faculty about Resistance”.

Non-existent from a natural history perspective, the term Unkraut is widely used in common parlance and mostly means something undesirable and irritating. Van Heeswijk challenges the usual distinction between herb and weed, cultivated and uncultivated, compares both in their diversity and opens up new conceptual spaces of experimentation. The “Unkrautlabor” was a collaborative and unconventional place of learning and was part of IGA campus.


27.07.2017, 10am - 11am: Blick auf Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Katrin Fritzsch spricht über das Image des Stadtbezirks (GER)

27.07.2017, 12pm - 6pm: Algaemy – Textildruck mit Algen. Ein Workshop mit Blond & Bieber (GER)

28.07.2017, 10am - 12pm: Unkraut and Forms of Resistance. A Public Faculty by Jeanne van Heeswijk

28.07.2017, 2pm - 4pm: Atelier LUMA: Art and Design as Tools for Transition. A contribution by Henriette Waal

29.07.2017, 10am - 12pm: Cooking Unkraut. A Workshop with Charl Landvreugd

29.07.2017, 12pm - 2pm: Design and Unkraut. Input von Van Bo Le-Mentzel (GER)

29.07.2017, 2pm - 4pm: Strategie Unkraut. Ein Workshop mit Lucas Verweij (GER)

30.07.2017, 10am - 12pm: The Hidden Qualities of Unkraut. A Workshop with De Onkruideniers

30.07.2017, 2pm - 4pm: Das Wissen im Unkraut. Eine schöpferische Community-Forschung mit Antonia Isabelle Weisz (GER)


Jeanne van Heeswijk in collaboration with Lucas Verweij and Annet van Otterloo

Katrin Fritzsch, Essi Johanna Glomb and Rasa Weber, Charl Landvreugd, Antonia Isabelle Weisz and De Onkruideniers.

Installation: Objects and Art
Research: Francois Lombarts
Graphic Design: David Veneman
Special Thanks to: Tihomir Velikinac - Roter Baum Berlin, Henriette Waal, Matthias Heumeier and Tristan Biere.