Radio Homo Ludens

Podcast (Dutch)

Hoog Catharijne is a shoppingmall in the city center of Utrecht. Once designed as a beacon of modernity in the 1960s. Everything had to be rigorously changed; Away with those old canalhouses and brick roads, making way for elevated pedestrian promenades, shopping landscapes and skyscrapers. 40 years later, in 2012, the shoppingmall was about to be renovated. The city of Utrecht celebrated the transformation with a Art in public space manifestation ‘Call of the Mall’ in 2013.

2012: Alone on an Island

From 11 to 18 November 2012 there was a lonely tent on the roof of Hoog Catharijne shoppingmall. Melle Smets stayed here for a week without leaving the building. With a microphone and a creditcard in his pocket he wandered to find the soul of Hoog Catharijne.
Smets associated he futuristic cityplan with the new world of the Homo Ludens (the playing man). Artist Constant envisioned in the 1950ies a gigantic structure built over the old city, where man could shake of history and bloom into a true self. His models and paintings look similair to the concrete jungle of Hoog Catharijne today. Under the slogan ‘Help the Homo Ludens’, Smets tried to live according to the serious game plan drafted by Huizinga (the inventor of the term playfull man) in the hope of meeting other Homo Ludens.

Time capsule
The tent in which Smets stayed was the same tent in which writers Godfried Bomans and Jan Wolkers camped on Rottumerplaat for the radio program ‘Alone on a island’ in 1971. By installing this tent on the roof of the most crowded shopping mall in the Netherlands, Smets raised the question whether the idea’s of it’s time can participate in the ambitions of tomorrow. Many newspapers, TV stations, and the national radio climbed to the roof to see this time capsule and listen to the stories of Hoog Catharijne coming to the surface.

2013: Radio Homo Ludens

The redevelop plans for Hoog Catherijne 2013 paid little attention to the remarkable village culture that Smets discovered during his stay in a tent on the roof. The Homo Ludens is still there, but lives a secluded existence above and below the storefronts. They call themselves “Mall rats”; cleaners, office clerks, homeless people, junkies, and residents who cherish the concrete labyrinth.

Radio Homo Ludens gave these villagers a voice in the shopping center. A large wooden box served as the recording studio. ‘Radio Homo Ludens’ soon became a hangout with news about daily life in Hoog Catharijne, but also in-depth interviews, stories from the old days, and a refuge for homeless or people who are not there to buy things. During three months the studio broadcasted stories which you could hear once sitting down on the benches.

After two years and many hours of audio recordings Smets made, together with Radio maker Marten Minkema and sound artist Mat Wijn, the radio documentary “The Mass Massage Machine”. The program was broadcasted on national radio channel 1.

Radio Fragments

Radio Documentairy

Location Hoog Catharijne Utrecht

Period 2012 – 2013

Team Mat Wijn, Marten Minkema, Melle Smets

Commisioned by Stichting Kunst in het stationsgebied, Municipality of Utrecht, Corio
In collaboration with Interns: Laila Boufer, Lieke van der Made, Linde Neyts, Maaike de Jager, Rob Keulemans, Isis, Eva Geutjes
Special Thanks Rob Huibers, Laura Jansen, Annemarie Geersink, Ingmar Heytze, Menno Overtoom, Ronald Besemer, John Makkink, Jacq Cornellissen, Errol Lentjes, Tito, Rob Dettingmeijer, Tim Verlaan, Cecile Reijnders en Jasper Willigers, Daan Quakernaat, Van der Linden family, Paul Vergeer, Rijk family, Ineke Bakker, Jan Hagenouw, Jacqueline van Dop, Hans Blekkink, Mark, Erny Green, Anco Schut, Bomans family, Wolkers family, Dennis Le Poole, Micha Princen, Linde Dorenbosch, Lieke Timmermans, Nienke Martinus, Carlijn Diesfeldt, Monique Dirven