Lucas De Man, a man of words

Lucas De Man, a man of words

‘How do we take care of our own future?’
He is known as an artist, theatre producer, director and TV presenter, is the founder and artistic director of Stichting Nieuwe Helden and creates installations, theatre productions, city projects and performances. Lucas De Man prefers to describe himself as a creator. What is the recurring theme in his work? “Playfully transforming public spaces into places of amazement, connection and doing away with obligations.” On the final day of CWF2019, this creative jack-of-all-trades will lead a sharing session called ‘The Future is Biobased’ and give a performance about ‘the next step’.

Everything Lucas De Man does is based on doing away with obligations. “My motivation is the importance of doing away with obligations, in the sense of not having to do something. Humankind is the only species that is aware that it does not know why it is here. That awareness makes us human and ensures that we can interact with each other. What matters in life are the fundamental moments of not having to do something. Good art does that. If our projects lead to these moments, I consider myself a successful person.”

Megasexy and supercool
By ‘our’ De Man means his brainchild, Stichting Nieuwe Helden (New Heroes Foundation). With a large group of creatives, he devises projects and installations intended to give form to public spaces and encourage dialogue. In doing so, he combines theatre with other audiovisual (artistic) disciplines to tell stories about social themes and living together in society. On the final day of CWF, De Man’s story is called ‘The Future is Biobased’. His message? “That bio-based material is not a tough application, but megasexy and supercool.”

‘Bio-based building material is one possible course within a larger issue: how do we take care of our planet?’

Less climate-damaging construction
With the new project Biobased Creations, the New Heroes want to stimulate the use of this natural material in the context of less climate-damaging construction. On the one hand by uniting designers and industry in its application, and on the other hand by allowing the public to experience its possibilities. “That’s why we will be at the Ketelhuisplein in Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week with our Grown Pavilion as an eye-catcher,” says De Man. “The pavilion is an entirely bio-based construction with mushroom walls and a floor of grasses. It is therefore 100% natural. There are all sorts of examples of creatives and artists who already work with bio-based materials. Really revolutionary and never before seen. In the sharing session at CWF, we will include participants in the story of bio-based building material as a possible course within a larger issue: how do we take care of our planet? This is also an ethical question for creatives. Because we can talk about it, but we are just as polluting by building our installations with the standard materials. Reason enough to start investigating new materials. And then you soon realise that the construction world is in dire need of drastic change. And that this is still not happening enough, because alternative materials are more expensive and the focus is primarily on making as much money as possible.”

‘Bio-based is still at the same stage as the vegetarian burger, which needs to look and feel like a normal hamburger’

Good food
With a team of designers, artists and storytellers, De Man has been experimenting with natural materials for two years already. “How far can we go in allowing materials to be natural? That’s the question we have asked ourselves. And that’s also our job as creatives: working on what might become something. In this case, that ‘something’ is bio-based material, with which we have a threefold objective: showing the public how cool it is, making the construction world aware of the need to change course and allowing creatives to experience how creative you can be with it. It is perfect for the temporary interior design of a trade fair, for example. Afterwards, you break it down and give it back to nature as good food for the soil. Bio-based is still at the same stage as the vegetarian burger, which needs to look and feel like a normal hamburger. Elon Musk has proved that things can be done differently with his Tesla, which is really innovative and also looks cool. We’re doing the same with our Grown Pavilion: we’re letting people see the mushrooms and, in doing so, how beautiful and impressive bio-based is and how natural it feels.”

‘It’s about exploring the possibilities and impossibilities, where there is not a single absolute truth’

The next step
On the final day of CWF, De Man will also give a performance on the next step. What’s the impression after three days? What concrete ideas have emerged? “The next wave of challenges is coming,” according to De Man. “Harari (the Israeli historian and best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, ed.) talks about the creatable man and the essential role of creatives for the future. The big question is: how do we take care of our own future? What is the next step and what responsibility do we have in this? Do we want to make sure that people can still be people for the next 20 years? In fact, no-one has the answers to the big questions, so let’s get together and do away with obligations at CWF. It’s about exploring the possibilities and impossibilities, where there is not a single absolute truth. Thinking together and learning from each other, asking questions for three days. That’s what makes CWF such an exceptional event. As long as we keep talking and asking each other questions, we will continue to come up with new solutions. The world never stands still, after all.”

Meet Lucas @CWF2019!

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