Jeanne van Heeswijk is a visual artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local”. Van Heeswijk embeds herself as an active citizen in communities, often working for years at a time. These long-scale projects, which have occurred in many different countries, transcend the traditional boundaries of art in duration, space and media and questions art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, meetings, discussions, seminars and other forms of organizing and pedagogy. Inspired by a particular current event, cultural context or intractable social problem, she dynamically involves neighbors and community members in the planning and realization of a given project. As an “urban curator”, van Heeswijk’s work often unravels invisible legislation, governmental codes and social institutions, in order to enable communities to take control over their own futures. Noted projects include Hotel New York P.S. 1 in New York (September 1998 to August 1999); De Strip (The Strip) in Westwijk, Vlaardingen (May 2002 – May 2004); Het Blauwe Huis (The Blue House) in Amsterdam (May 2005 – December 2009); 2Up 2Down/Homebaked in Liverpool (November 2011 – present); and Freehouse, Radicalizing the Local in Rotterdam (September 2008- present).
Her work has also been featured in numerous books and publications worldwide, as well as internationally renowned biennials such as those of Liverpool, Busan, Taipei, Shanghai, and Venice. She has received a host of accolades and awards for her work including most recently the 2012 Curry Stone Prize for Social Design Pioneers, and in 2011, the Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change.