Settled in a former buoy shed in Northern Antwerp is Onder Stroom, a coworking place hosting events from Sunday brunches to De Ambassade gigs and a Climate Festival. It’s horizontally run with two appointed project managers, Jasper Moonen and Tim Vandewalle, and a bunch of residents. Production company Cameltown and creative studio Undefined, for instance. They want you on the team. Most of all they want you to ‘follow the Onder Stroom (‘undercurrent’) until you’re burned out and sneeze colors for the rest of your life’. Seems like a good objective as the festive and sniffing season is around the corner.
Interview by Milena Maenhaut
Photos shot by Miles Fischler in Antwerp
How did Onder Stroom came about?
Jasper: AG Vespa, a company taking care of real estate and urban projects in Antwerp, organized an open call to give a new destiny to the site we’re located on. The site was assigned to Undefined and the creative studio got a subsidy to hire someone to organize it all. We both applied and made it to the last two, which we discovered by chance. As we realized the job was way too dense for one person only, we decided we would do the job together or not at all. And here we are.
How did you two meet?
Jasper: We met more than ten years ago at Kavka, where we were both volunteering.
Tim: We had seen each other before at obscure parties in the city - mostly hardcore and breakcore - when we were still young and rebellious. (Laughs) We ended up supporting each other and organizing events together.
I’ve heard your time at Onder Stroom is coming to an end. Why’s that?
Tim: We were paid with a one-time subsidy, which we can’t get again next year. This doesn’t mean Onder Stroom won’t get funding any more: the future of Onder Stroom is secured, it will just be organized in a different way without us. But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll continue to engage ourselves for Onder Stroom, employed or not.
the future of Onder Stroom is secured, it will just be organized in a different way
What is/was your role in Onder Stroom?
Tim: Basically, a decent share of the daily tasks and logistics that come with running an organisation with different residents, but with a lot of support from those residents themselves.
Jasper: And programming public spaces and everything that’s related to the government. I take care of the finances, Tim writes the files and is in contact with the city.
Onder Stroom reminds us of the Meubelfabriek in Ghent, which is run without any hierarchy. Does it work the same way here?
Tim: Yes, the structure is horizontal.
Jasper: Everyone has their own work but we also get together to organize events. As the architecture team is moving, there will be new spaces available in the coworking room.
Tim: This is a warm call for anyone who wants to join us and commit to Onder Stroom. We especially need more female input.
Jasper: Just like the Meubelfabriek does, we’re taking our first steps towards community work to strengthen and support the neighborhood.
we’re taking our first steps towards community work to strengthen and support the neighborhood
What kind of neighborhood are we in?
Jasper: Onder Stroom is quite isolated, surrounded by huge office buildings. There are some fancy houses on the quay and we’re close to the red light district as well. Two weeks ago we participated at an eye-opening meeting with all social and cultural organizations from around. We’re so numerous! We were already collaborating with Fameus and Het Bos, and lately we’re getting acquainted with partners working around poverty and ecology too.
Lately we’re getting acquainted with partners working around poverty and ecology
Do you want to tackle those themes as well?
Tim: Yes! We want to transform our square into an accessible meeting place where people can play sports and partake in cultural activities. Our Climate Festival is destined to underprivileged groups so climate doesn’t become a white middle class story, which happens too often.
How would you describe the creative world in Antwerp?
Jasper: Buzzing! There are a lot of parties, youth centers, concerts and exhibitions: the possibilities are endless. Lots of new initiatives are born here and there as the city’s art schools and its students are becoming more and more engaged.
the city’s art schools and its students are becoming more and more engaged
You both live in Antwerp, right? Where?
Jasper: I’m currently living in 2060, 200 meters from Tim.
Tim: Almost all Onder Stroom residents live in 2060 or Borgerhout.
Jasper: Of course! 2060 is the shit. The area mirrors the world. I feel safest in neighborhoods where there’s always something happening, no matter what day or time it is. I lived in Berchem for a while, which falls steadily asleep at 10 pm. The city center too is focusing on the day- rather than the nightlife.
Who’s your favorite artist hailing from Antwerp?
Tim: What a question.
Jasper: STUFF. and its side projects, even though they’re not 100% from here. Hantrax as well, and everything related to labels Granvat and Ekster.
Tim: I bet all I own on Sniper DJ.
And favorite place?
Tim: Besides Onder Stroom?
Jasper: Het Bos.
Tim: Same goes for me. They call us (shouts proudly) ‘Het Bos van de Aldi’!.
Some lasts words?
Jasper: It was an honor to work here.
Tim: Follow the Onder Stroom (‘undercurrent’) until you’re burned out and sneeze colors for the rest of your life.
The Sweaty Palms afterparty at Onder Stroom
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