IN MEMORIAM WILLEMIJN VAN DER VAART
Willemijn and the Niet Normaal Foundation have known each other for very long. In 2007, when she still worked at the VSB Fund she played an important role on the background in the creation of our first exhibition: niet normaal.
In may 2014, we were now to our third exhibition, this time in the former prison at the Wolvemplein in Utrecht, Willemijn was our Managing Director. I still remember the day she came to apply, which actually was nothing more than hetting acquinted, because at the first look we traded with Willemijn, we were immediately sold. For me it was very much her voice. Soft, little chic, almost distinguisghed, there was a great deal of attention and care. Other board members were struck by her intense blue eyes, seeking peace and sgaring confidence, I did not have to see them to know. Felt it. I also felt that she had a keen eye, that she had natural presence everywhere. Suddenly she was standing next to me, in a busy room or a foyer, leading me through the crowds, putting my hand on the railing.
For more than two years we have enjoyed her warm, sparkling personality and with her creativity, she has helped give shape to the creation of the program in 2015 – the life hack marathons, and the exhibition Hacking Habitat in 2016, in particular the Open Stage.
Her frail classic looks by which you could easily put on the wrong leg, but also a beauty behind which was a large commitment with a sense of justice and humanity. Willemijn was, as we encountered the inflexible systems of institutions and companies, the relativating factor. “Wait a minute,” she said then, with that beautiful voice, “we are not equipped for a frontal attack! We need to find smart and playful openings to make the system work more to our advantage instead of against us.” She never went over one night ice, but waited until the ice had the color of her eyes and the solid reliability that its so characterized.
Willemijn was very involved in the team. In the preparation she invited the whole team out to dinner at her home. And also later in the project, she was an indispensable help and mainstay. She had a tremendous foresight and based thereupon important strategic decisions.
The team of Hacking Habitat could not wish for a better business director.
Last Thursday, after we had heard the terrible news, the whole team held a wake at a distance for Willemijn. To be able to share witheahch other her incomprehensible death. We carry her with us, until we go ourselves. We are grateful for what she has done for us, for the art, the artists and for society. We will always remember how she they carried integrity, peace and beauty. She is no longer there, we are. Friends, family, Arend, hold each other tightly. Find each other in life. Hugo, Hanna, Emma, know that Willemijn often talked about you guys. And I mean, of course, not in the nagging sense, only loving she spoke. I heard her beautiful blue eyes flash, heard her warm smile.
The death we cannot understand, let us try to live. Live with each other, for each other in love, in warmth, that’s all we can do.
Written and nominated by Vincent Bijlo, on behalf of the Board of the Niet Normaal Foundation and the team of HACKING HABITAT.