“Happiness is taken for granted in the context of the Groningen festival ‘for everybody’ called Let’s Gro. The festival is about improving the city through start up initiatives. It gives the idea of a bottom-up initiative, but is it? Do people have the space to run it as they like?
Let’s Gro is based on the assumption that the inhabitants of Groningen are happy and want to maintain their alleged happiness. But isn’t happiness an abstract term? It is very personal, relative and subjective, it’s a process more than an end result. Moreover, happiness is a matter of privilege, and not everybody has access to it.
By walking through the city, we noticed several statements that caught our attention, signs either engraved, glued or painted directly on the surface of the city. Borrowing the existing infrastructure for advertising and corporate communication, or signs placed by people to regulate their own private space, creating borders between private and public, we made our own statements as a response/dialogue to the words of Let’s Gro. Using similar materials, communication methods and graphics, we created small engravings that blend in with the grass, buildings and sidewalk, and make a surprising comment on the issue of happiness. At the same time we understand the term growing, that is included in the name of the festival, as occupying a space, making a big and bold statement, which led to our choice of a big banner. We walked with a big banner, with the statement ‘Happiness is a privilege’, through the city in a rush hour.
“Groningen is a lively and vibrant city, where people tend to be happy with their lives.” These expectations related to individual and collective levels of happiness led us to question the reality of these statements. If the majority of people in Groningen ‘tend to be happy with their lives’, what happens to those who do not fit in these parameters? What keeps them from achieving this alleged happiness? How does one feel in this city, surrounded by happy individuals?
We use Instagram as a method of archiving and documenting the work and putting it out into the world, positioning our statements among those that were in the city before ours. Within the city, our signs speak for themselves.
The action took place on 3 consecutive days – 1st, 2nd and 3rd of November 2018. We placed the signs along a path in the center of Groningen, marked by the blue location markers. We also took our ‘Happiness is a privilege’ banner for a walk through the main locations within the city center, as marked by the black line on the map.”