Join the Party (#1)

October - December 2022

Monday, October 10, 2022, the first edition of the participatory and social art project 'Join the Party' will start at Cicero Care Center Ave Maria. An initiative of artist Jonathan Wanders and a special collaboration with the residents, staff and visitors of Ave Maria. It is an invitation to connect, a call to an open dialogue, to meet each other, to promote the enjoyment of life and to create something special together.

The community art project depicts in an accessible, stimulating and ambivalent way the vulnerability of our freedom and society that was exposed during the corona crisis. It is a visual translation and experience of the divisions in society that have become clearly visible in various ways. But Join the Party is also an embodiment of the celebration of life.

A negative experience leads to something beautiful
The corona crisis had, and still has, a huge physical and mental impact on society. This also applies to Care Center Ave Maria. Both with the (vulnerable) residents, as well as with staff, their family and friends. The decreased contact with loved ones and the decreased freedom resulted in a decrease in meaning and quality of life and an increase in emotional loneliness and psychological vulnerability. The lack of social interactions led to periods of gloom, anxiety and diminished happiness. Residents were also afraid of becoming infected with the corona virus.

Now that it is possible again, everyone needs to connect, meet each other, vent and exchange ideas. The art project Join the Party facilitates encounters and dialogues in combination with creative development.

Part of the art project is that residents and staff are invited during participation sessions by persons in protective clothing to inflate balloons and provide them with a personal message with a marker: the balloon as a representation of a unique individual. The breath of the people, which is negatively charged by corona, leads to something beautiful. Breath stands for life and that is celebrated.

The inflated balloons go into a large sealed, transparent plexiglas box – a kind of incubator where the dimensions are based on the 1.5 meter society -, creating an image of the corona crisis and the accompanying sentiments. An ambivalent total experience. 'The new NOW' is being discussed in a special, innovative, universal and interactive form. The viewer not only becomes a participant, but also part of the artwork.

Afterwards, when the box is completely filled, the balloons are processed into a colorful wall art object that gets a place within Ave Maria. A 'visual and permanent report' as a tangible reminder. An inspiration and motivation to connect and dialogue with each other and to enjoy art together. The art project invites - in a playful and confrontational way - to discuss current themes such as freedom, division, diversity, solidarity and inclusiveness. Ironically, a mirror is held up. Relevant topics related to the corona crisis, but also to the war in Ukraine. Heavy subjects, but with a 'airy' performance…

Making art together
In addition to being able to express feelings and emotions in a kind of therapeutic way, experience has shown that the residents of Ave Maria become enthusiastic about art. There is even a keen interest in making art. Becoming part of this 'artful party' contributes to their well-being, enjoyment of life and self-confidence. Just being together has a healing effect. Combined with the renewed dialogue, it can be a medicine against the division and fear.

From blowing to artwork
The participation sessions will start during the festive opening on Monday October 10, 2022 and end on Wednesday October 19. The installation with balloons can then be seen for another 2 weeks in the reception area. The wall art object can be admired in Ave Maria from mid-December 2022. Join the Party and come take a look!




Title: Join the Party (#1)
Location: Cicero Care Center Ave Maria, Geulle (NL). Address: Hussenbergstraat 21, Geulle, The Netherlands. The installation is accessible during the opening hours of the care center.
Process: April 2021 to December 2022.
Period of installation: October 10 to November 4, 2022.
Period of participation sessions: 10 to 19 October 2022.
Installation material: Demountable steel frame (blasted and galvanized) with white powder ocating and plexiglass plates (thick 6 mm). Balloons are made of latex (biodegradable) and in 12 colors.
Installation dimensions: 1.6 m wide x 1.6 m length x 2.45 m high.
Initiative: Jonathan Wanders.
Financing: Foundation Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds Limburg (through the Cultuur Innovatie Fonds Limburg), Foundation Sluyterman van Loo, Foundation Brand Cultuurfonds Limburg, Mr. August Fentener van Vlissingen Fund, Foundation Kanunnik Salden/Nieuwenhof, the Municipality of Meerssen and Cicero Care Center Ave Maria.
Special thanks to: Guy Timmermans (Service Manager Cicero), Jos Salden (team member), Jacqueline Römers (team member) and everyone else involved and participated.
Photos: Maaike Faas (Maaike Schauer Photography), Edward van Kempen, Jonathan Wanders.
© Jonathan Wanders