Campus reporter Gil Abend highlights art collective Body Electric, a community-centered hub for creatives founded by University of Amsterdam alum Rebecca Took.
Two centuries ago, Walt Whitman declared of the power of community: “I sing the body electric”. Today, UvA alum Rebecca Took (@rebeccatook on Instagram) uses his words to create her own community of international creatives in Amsterdam. Body Electric is a one-woman business, run with the assistance of many helpful friends. It aims to bring together artists, poets, singers, spoken word artists, DJs and comedians for a monthly night of interdisciplinary art and community-building.
The event first took place at Toekomstmuziek, a trendy bar and restaurant, where neon lights illuminate an intimate stage. Young people dressed in black chat over a beer while sitting in comfortable bean bags, engaged in conversations about their latest projects.
Kelly Mullins (@kellmullins) says she uses her writing to talk about her “depression but in a funny way”. The multidisciplinary aspect of Body Electric has given her inspiration for her work. Jędrzej Jędraszyk (@jjdrszk) provides music to performances like Mullins’, allowing viewers and participants alike to see the cross-section between poetry, music, comedy, and art— and how each discipline engages a different human emotion. “You really start to see where the overlap is,” says Mullins. Jędrzej enjoys contributing to Body Electric, especially because of the strong sense of community that is present. “It is a beautiful group of people”, he says.
Rebecca initially moved to Amsterdam to pursue an MA in English Literature and Culture. The success of Body Electric has inspired her to expand her venture. She is now working on bringing events to more diverse venues and exploring new formats. One of her future intentions is to reach out to the international student community. “When I was a student I felt very isolated, I didn’t know what my place was”, says Rebecca. However, once she started performing her poetry, she quickly felt like she belonged to the city.
She aims to give current international students the same experience. Since she knows how isolating international student life can be, she wants to build a network for students who want to share their art but don’t know where to start. Her goals include running workshops for students and putting on student-centered live performances. Rebecca believes Amsterdam is a city with “so much talent in such a small space”, and she wants to give a platform to all of it, in whatever form it may come.
Jamie Fehribach (@wildernessofpaper) is a poet who turns her experiences as a therapist into poetry about topics such as mental health and feminism. For her, attending and performing at
Body Electric is a community-building experience. “Humans are social creatures who need poetry and stories to heal,” says Fehribach. Body Electric gives Fehribach and artists like her a space to do exactly that.
Rebecca hopes that one day Body Electric will grow beyond herself into a solid collective, with many people claiming a small piece of the experience. International students looking for a creative community can certainly find it at Body Electric — where art contains multitudes.
Amsterdam is a city with “so much talent in such a small space” — Rebecca Took
Gil Abend is a university student in Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.