A collective self-portrait by the people of Utrecht that captures and celebrates the city

In What Is the City but the People?, around 150 people of Utrecht gather together to create a collective, dynamic self-portrait of the city. From an ice cream seller to a university worker, from a skateboarder to a bell ringer, from a refugee to a student, a drag queen, a rebel politician, an artist, and the mayor: the diverse characters present themselves both as individuals and as members of the city community. Together they uncover what really makes the city: not only its architecture or sweeping historical events, but rather the people’s struggles and joys in their everyday lives. What Is the City but the People? is created by the people of Utrecht and directed by Richard Gregory, from an idea by artist Jeremy Deller.

The participating residents have responded to an open call, which was followed by interviews by script-writer Babah Tarawally as well as a photoshoot by photographer Marieke Wijntjes. During the runway event, these stories and images are presented on the large screens erected on either side of the runway. The runway presentation is accompanied by live music, composed for this occasion by the young Utrecht composer Joram Kroon, who is assisted by local musicians. The all-Utrecht creative team has worked closely with Richard Gregory, the director of the project’s premiere iteration at the Manchester International Festival in 2017. Bron

In 2 months I composed, recorded and produced 90 minutes of original music for the runway presentation. Together with musical friends and local musicians. One of the challenges was to make the length of the music variable, so I could adapt to the speed of the people on the catwalk. That’s why I chose to present the music as a DJ.
As this project had been done before, I could learn from the first time this project was done in England. The challenge is to time the music on the speed of the catwalkers..And that varies from day to day depending on the weather, the wind (there is elderly people involved). To time the music with a band is nearly impossible. That’s why I chose for another approach by prerecording music produced in my studio together with Utrecht musicians and the local brass band. I consider the turntable my first instrument of choice. And as a DJ I can easily lengthen a part or make a transition longer or shorter. I could precisely time it on what was happening on the runway.

Source & interview (Dutch news paper article)

Project duration: july – sept 18
Performance date: 15 sept 18