The Artist as Public Servant, Discarded Food as Commons

An initiative of Alina Lupu and Helen van der Bilt (Helen’s Free Food Market)

Helen’s Free Food Market (HFFM), is a project that is an anti-food waste and simultaneously supports people with a lower income in Amsterdam North. It is initiated by Helen van der Bilt, numbers a rotating pool of around 40 volunteers, helps 80 families, and saves an average of 800kg of food per week, according to a tally at the end of 2021.

After almost two years of volunteering on and off for Helen’s initiative, working, researching, and writing on the role of the artist as a ‘public servant’, Alina Lupu will organize an event that will take place at De Verbroederij on June 9th.

This event will be a culmination of her reflections on her position as an artist directing her efforts in supporting another initiative, as well as an intimate deep dive into the impact such initiatives serve as a social practice within the urban ecosystem.

To better expand on the function of social practice art, the event will include a presentation by Elke Uitentuis, current social practice workshop leader at the Rijksacademie, Amsterdam, alongside Helen’s intro into the initiative and Lupu’s reflections.

To read more about the initiative:

General details:
Date: 9th of June
Time: 20:00 – 21:30

De Verbroederij, Amsterdam Noord, aims to connect residents of Amsterdam-North with each other. It organizes accessible cultural, creative, educational and social activities for and by various local residents.

Johan van Hasseltweg 21
1021 KN Amsterdam
Next to the ferry landing Oostveer


Helen van der Bilt is the initiator of Helen’s Free Food Market, which takes place weekly at De Verbroederij in Amsterdam Noord.

Alina Lupu was born and raised in Romania. She works in the Netherlands as a writer and post-conceptual artist. The focus of her work is on the precarious living and working conditions of art workers and laborers in general. Since 2021, Alina has also been a general board member of Platform BK, a Dutch-based non-profit organisation that investigates the role of art in society and campaigns for a better art policy. Alina is committed to improving the position of (international) artists and to stimulating the debate about the social role of the visual arts. Alina volunteers at Helen’s Free Food Market since 2020.

Carla Kolner is a senior scientist and a researcher with a long experience in the Public Health and prevention in the Social Domain. At this moment she is working on a PhD thesis on the topic of prevention, on behalf of the Institute for Policy and Innovation at the Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University. For the Corona Behavioural Unit of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) she and a team conducted a qualitative (narrative) research during the Coronacrisis. The main aim of the study was to understand how formal and informal stakeholders in different organisations and community networks have experienced and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic policies in the Netherlands.

Elke Uitentuis is a visual artist, human rights activist, and mother. From 2015 till 2019 she dedicated herself to the Vluchtmaat, a temporary shelter for 40 undocumented refugees and a workspace for artists and social entrepreneurs, which birthed We Sell Reality. We Sell Reality is a social rebellion label that is set up as a collective of undocumented artists. We Sell Reality makes products and installations and creates performative interventions in public space with the aim of providing insight into the lives of undocumented refugees. Elke is also giving shape and running the workshop Social Practice at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

During the event, a small publication designed by Toni Brell will be distributed to the attendants. Toni Brell is a designer, coder, and writer based between Amsterdam and Berlin.