Jan Derk Diekema (1981)
Artist – Researcher – Urban Planning
Based in Groningen – the Netherlands

“My work is a mix of art, activism, ‘bottom up’ urban planning and creating communities”.

Jan Derk Diekema is an professional artist, researcher and urban planner from Groningen, the Netherlands. He is the director of the Art Indeed Foundation that organizes an international Artist in Residence (AIR) program in the coastal area of the Northern Netherlands. The upcoming AIR-projects focus on subjects that surround port cities, climate change, sea-level rising and their related social-environmental issues. Diekema is the Dutch representative in Port Journeys Network and initiator of several international projects on subjects that arise in coastal areas.

Artist – Researcher
In current art-research-projects he uses structures in the urban landscape as a way to observe how communities, connections and networks work as part of bigger systems which function across cities or neighborhoods. His recent work focuses on Port Cities, their overseas and hinterland connections. Fascinating and distinctive qualities of these type of cities sum up in topics as trade, immigration, mobility and industry, among other discontents of circulation. It catches Diekema how they echo back and forward within a triangle of locations that have their own culture and circumstances.

These systems contain untold stories that reveal insights which concern us all and deal with issues as inequality, social planning and vacancy that emerge in a patterning all over the globe in cities and societies. In these grounds he finds inspiring issues that are mingled in his art-research-projects.

Diekema works interdisciplinary with film, photography, research and writing. Research is within his work not only a period of study and sketching, He uses it in its diverse appearances and present research as an artform.

Urban Planner
As a urban planner he works with vacant or ‘not used’ buildings and grounds that are temporary available, often due strategic purchasing policies for future developments, real estate speculation or shrinkage of local populations. Although sometimes invisible, empty building and grounds occur in all cities, worldwide. Their appearance and how it’s allowed to be used, is strongly influenced by politics and policy. In cities exists on the same hand a specific yet dynamic desire or need for housing groups like: artists, refugees, students, divorced parents, expats, startups, etc.

In his projects, the building or ground is the starting point, it’s lay-out, condition and neighborhood decide how it can be developed. Underlying goals are to use the potential of what is already there, technically recycle the building, create a self-sustainable, empowered group of residents, and work with a ‘down to earth’, realistic calculation. This results in a mini-society; affordable cooperate living, mixed with creative organizations, artist-studio’s and businesses that interact with the neighborhood. Temporary social and creative breeding grounds arise instead of leaving places empty, this is where Diekema feels that he ‘makes’ the city, not as an traditional designer or developer but as participatory programmer and an artist, working with community and disused parts of the city.

Art Indeed Foundation
Art Indeed (2009) currently initiates Port Journeys & Coastline Journals, a program which brings together an international community of artists for a unique Artist in Residence program. They work team based with researchers and locals on research-art projects in the coastal area of Groningen. Simultaneous the program is organized by partner-organizations in coastal areas around the globe.

The projects start in 2024 and aim to seduce, alarm, explain and inspire locals and decision makers. Artists, their teams are challenged to research and question the obvious, raise awareness, reveal local stories and place them in bigger constellations with matching stories from other countries. Projects are locally and internationally exhibited and discussed. Topics surround stories connected to local communities, climate change, sustainable environments.

The effects of climate change and the transfer to a sustainable environment are big in coastal areas like Groningen. Here for example, systems, people and environment are challenged by gas-extraction, need for data-centers and innovative changes as the ‘Dubbele Dijk’ near Bierum were between two dikes the quality of the saltiness in the soil is controlled to experiment with agriculture.

Diekema feels the need to research, discuss and present these kinds of issues that connect and concern mankind worldwide. In order to understand our own challenges, we need to share knowledge internationally. His initiative achieves this trough art, by connecting people worldwide, inspire local societies, decision-makers who are dealing, living and working in the context of these challenges.

All roles are woven into international platforms as Port Journeys Network, Port Futures/Social Logistics and Hyper Cultural Passengers. I curate and organize exchanges within these structures, give lectures and advise municipalities. The scope of my work is broad, sharpened by theoretical knowledge, complemented by real practice. It affects and engages people across a variety of scales.