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Interview Lucas de Man New Heroes: unlike the government, art does have the ability to involve and affect citizens

Lucas de Man creates with his foundation New Heroes art projects and urban actions in public spaces. De Man: ‘nowadays the thought the government can arrange everything for its citizens is unrealistic and outdated. Citizens must feel involved. That’s why bottom-up initiatives have a greater chance to work. The projects and actions of New Heroes are either self-initiated or commissioned and are driven by the need to let public space be a place of non-obligatory encounters between citizens and the city government. EMI talked to the founder and got really enthusiastic about their work. De Man:' art is one of the few things in our society that is not affected by any political lobby. We can make make people talk and give them influence. Art has the ability to mobilise people.’

According to De Man, an artist has the task to connect other artists, organisations and individuals around a certain theme. Ego’s and disciplines must be subordinate to the projects that are created. Public space is the place par excellence where these encounters can take place, where the not-knowing, the searching and being together can be shared. In all its projects and actions New Heroes strives to let public space be more than just an anonymous consumption market place but rather a place of connection, wonder, amazement, surprise, confusion and in the end: encounters. The impact of New Heroes can be best illustrated by explaining some of their interesting projects:

Sketch – chance for inhabitants to have a say

De Man:‘ Sketch is an example of a project that different needs and visions of citizens makes clear. It is all about creating a confrontation and dialogue between civil society and the government. Sketch consists of a huge construction that is build up within the city center. People that pass by this construction get curious and enter it. They are all asked to draw up their ideas for the city. For example, when Sketch was located in the city of Tilburg, inhabitants wished for more parks and plants in the city. Through Sketch they let the city council know they wanted a greener city and a more historic city. People that passed by were very clear about it: we do not like the semi-modern buildings in our city. New Heroes collects all contributions and hand them over to the city council. In that way the city officials really get an insight in what it important to the inhabitants of a city. Sketch can be build up in each city for a couple of days and it is also possible to set it up around a certain theme, for example sustainability or social cohesion, with an accompanying central question.’


Sketch construction

Tear: a story of loneliness in a busy city

De Man: ‘an example of one of our new projects for the coming years is Tear. In this hyper-individualistic and busy world we feel more lonely than ever. In the coming 2 years De Man will develop a huge international project around the theme loneliness in the big city in which he researches the human desire to have contact with other individuals. The eye-catcher of the project will consist of 7 big tears hanging outside different high buildings throughout the city. People can enter these buildings and take a seat in one of these tears to oversee the city and its surroundings, but also to read poems and stories of people about loneliness. Within the project other activities will also be organised, like a meeting point and a play for an approximate period of 40 days. The project is planned to start in the city of Den Bosch (The Netherlands).'More information on all projects can be found in the online portfolio.


About the foundation New Heroes: connect, create and encounter in a changing world

De Man: ‘The foundation works with a small fixed core and a strong international network of creative professionals, the creators. Every project or action is invented, lead and developed by creators. Scientists, journalists, volunteers and audience are carefully selected per project per location, approached and persuaded to collaboration. We call these collaborates our heroes. In addition, companies, media and organisations collaborate as partner. New Heroes is financially supported by friends. Everybody can be a friend, organizations and or individuals. On their new website there is even an option to donate a free amount to New Heroes directly. They allow us to continue to develop and execute new projects and actions. The involvement of heroes, friends and partners creates a strong local base and wide reach. All projects stay on repertoire, continue to be developed and are sold internationally. This way we can continue to connect, create and encounter in a changing world.’


For more information on New Heroes, visit their website or e-mail Mathias Lucas de Man.


Some of the illustrations made with Sketch:


IMG 3443


IMG 3822