'Art has such an amazing ability to scrutinise what we have become to accept as normal'
credit: Melody Lieftink
credit: Melody Lieftink
credit: Melody Lieftink
Marieke Eyskoot (1977) is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle expert. She puts contemporary, conscious living on the map. Her modern handbook This is a Good Guide – for a sustainable lifestyle is filled with practical and positive tips on fashion, beauty, food, home, work and leisure. It proves that stylish and sustainable go very well together, and makes green living fun and doable. Marieke is a sought-after speaker, presenter and consultant, and co-founder of international fair fashion trade show MINT. With almost twenty years of experience, she has an extensive global ethical network. She’s featured in several top-women lists, gave several TEDx talks and was nominated as Amsterdam Citizen of the Year. Marieke has founded worldwide movement #SustainabilityAgainstShame. For many media, she is the go-to person for all things sustainable.
‘She’s an authority and Dutch celebrity from the world of sustainable fashion. Leave it to Marieke to get people inspired.’ De Volkskrant NL
Can art foster social change - and what role can artists and their work play in this? Is there room for them to take a leading role?
Absolutely! Art has such an amazing ability to make us look at something in a different way, encourage us to challenge our views and scrutinise what we have become to accept as normal. And all those things we very much need to create change and a paradigm shift towards a different, better world. I think we can all play a leading role: in your workplace, in conversations with friends and family, when voting, whilst raising your kids or wearing your hat as a consumer. So for sure artists also have a leading role they can take.
In the face of the radical upheavals and crises of our time, can we still hope for a better future? And what impact might "narrative" have on this future's construction process?
Especially in a time of upheaval I think we should hope, and strive, for a better future. It is then it becomes obvious we need new solutions and approaches, and it gives the opportunity to create a breakthrough. The story we use to pitch this shift is crucial I think: only when we’re able to convince a large amount of people that this needs to happen, and that is not just necessary but also beneficial for them and others – that you can do good and lead a good life – that we’ll become a movement that is massive enough to make it happen.
What might be the premises of a transdisciplinary dialogue (between art, culture and other disciplines) capable of triggering social transformation? In your own work, what expertise or practices could go in the direction of such a transdisciplinarity?
I think we need to include everyone, and everyone needs to feel represented and seen. So it’s crucial that the movement for a better world doesn’t become elitist or arrogant or navel-gazing. Interdisciplinary conversations are very important to support mutual understanding and to be able to come together. For me it has always been key to for instance publish books that are affordable to most. I know of course that 20 euros can also be used to feed your children, but at least it’s not even more expensive than that – even though it’s over 300 pages, full colour, FSC paper, printed environmentally neutral in the Netherlands. It’s not about becoming rich, it’s about reaching as many readers as possible with different opportunities to make more sustainable choices. And by all means get it secondhand if you can!
Assuming it is possible to build a better world on the ruins of the old one - what do you think it might look like? What would you wish for a better world?
A world that runs on respect for people and our environment. Where there is no exploitation for our products, and financial profit isn’t what makes all policy-makers, politicians and business-owners tick. A world where we can all be who we are, and we aren’t shamed into having insecurities and „problem-area’s“ that we need to solve by buying more products. The taboos and stigmas will be broken, and there will be freedom for all beings, regardless of background, age, skin colour, belief, body shape, gender identity or where you, by mere chance, were born. I have so much privilege and advantage, just because I came into this world in the Netherlands. I don’t deserve any of it more than anyone else, and I don’t have any right to it. In a better world, chances and opportunities are fairly shared by all.
It's often said that artists (and creative people) have this unique ability to endlessly search for the new, to start from scratch over and over again. When you start a new project, what strategies or rituals do you personally use?
I always look for what is needed. What do I get asked about a lot? What is still missing? Where can I add something that’s useful and isn’t there yet? For me, those questions are key and leading, and where most of my ideas come from. I don’t just want to do it because I like doing it (although that is important too of course), I want to make it happen because I sense there’s a need for it and it’ll help people take steps towards a more conscious and contemporary way of living, that at the same time creates a good life for them too.
The interview was conducted in September 2021.