who we are

What are you waiting for? is part of an artistic research project called How to wait together? With this body of work, performance-based artist Merel Smitt researches the impact of waiting in our daily lives as well as different types of waiting in order to emphasize the universal character of this experience. 

For this digital waiting platform Merel Smitt collaborates with Ariane Gros and Maisa Imamovic. All three of us wait for essential things as well as less essential things. We have experiences with waiting that we would love to share with you through a short introduction.

Merel Smitt (artist)

  1. Currently my biggest wait is waiting for prices of housing and utilities to go down. I currently live with the big uncertainty of running out of money and not knowing how long I can afford to live in the house that I’m living in. The rent and utility costs are increasing on a yearly basis while my income is not at all increasing. I’m waiting for things to become steady and secure. 
  2. I’m waiting for a different government, one that is able to listen to its citizens and is able to take action to protect precarious living situations. As long as this is not happening I’m standing still because a lot of the decisions liberal politics makes is not improving my living situation at all. It has an impact on my daily life causing passiveness, stress, anxiety and prevents me from thinking about the future. 
  3. Last year I got stuck waiting for a miscarriage. I waited for two weeks for the miscarriage to start and was not able to leave the house fearing that the miscarriage would start while I was not home. During those two weeks I wondered what other women were doing during this waiting time. I sought support online to exchange situations and experiences and to find people to wait together with. I learned a lot from the stories of others, especially that I was not alone, that it was okay to take this loss seriously and that it happens a lot. It also gave me ideas on how to process my loss and which rituals can help for closure.
  4. Often when I wait in the doctor’s office or dental office I use my waiting time to recharge by doing nothing, just breathing. I try to not look for distracting ways to bypass the waiting time but instead claim it as my own. I really like doing that and it offers unscheduled and unexpected time and peace in the middle of a busy day.

Ariane Gros (dramaturg)

“There is nothing to do now but wait.” I heard this sentence very often in very different situations. Whether it be the result of a trial I was engaged in, the death of a relative or responses from applications, my relationship with waiting has always become more complicated when I had no control nor agency over the outcome of the wait. In 2019, this appeared to me even more clearly as I was waiting for the judge’s deliberation in a trial that was engaging my future. The formality of this waiting was separating time and space between the waiting bodies from the deciding ones. While the judges were deciding for hours in the privacy of another room, the court hearing, lawyers and defendants were all waiting in this eerie disciplined way, surrendered by the policemen placed at strategic points in the hearing room. As I was standing still, processing in my body the emotions of what had happened, they were sharing jokes and anecdotes to pass the time and forget the panic and fear the judiciary system can cause. I remember someone reading a book called “poo and pee on capitalism”. I think it is in this waiting time that we are maybe the most aware of who is empowered and enabled to act or not -especially upon our lives. And to what extent the romanticisation of this time is a privilege.

Maisa Imamović (web design and development)

In Bosnian, we say: “Ko čeka dočeka” – which is hard to translate without having a long discussion about it. The closest I got to is: “It comes to those who wait.” It can be anything in this case, but in the Bosnian case, it is always one step closer to a better life – a visa for the future or sorts.

I must admit that this **mantra** has subconsciously followed me throughout the years — I did sigh from relief in the moments when I felt like it was in the air.

In November 2021, I sighed the deepest. An act resulting from the end of an eight-year-old waiting for my permanent residence permit in The Netherlands(type II). One might assume that heavy sighs come from the hardest pains but actually, the overall experience of my waiting was somehow light. I think that’s because I spent most of my time training myself to forget about having to wait, but without losing a grip on it. Were I to write a book about it, it’d be called: “7 years + 11 months of domesticated waiting, 1 month of raging”. — Rage caused by not knowing what I’m waiting for.

When one knows in one’s moments of waiting that there is an end to this static experience (i.e. in my experience: the decision date), one finds ways to occupy oneself with favorite distractions (education, skills, hobbies, fears, swimming). Whatever we choose to fill the gaps of waiting with(and we’re lucky if we can), makes clear that waiting is all there is to our existence. Waiting for official bureaucratic recognition in order to obtain ++rights in this country was my biggest waiting challenge so far. Now that I’m not waiting for that specific subject anymore, it’s hard not to immediately jump on the next big wait.