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Artists DRIFT Fly Drone Performance Franchise Freedom in Appreciation of Healthcare Workers and as a Global Sign of Hope

FAD MAGAZINE drift_franchise_freedom_rotterdam_©ossip_van_duivenbode
Drift Franchise Freedom Rotterdam © Ossip van Duivenbode

The Dutch artists DRIFT partnered up with art organization Mothership and Stichting Droom en Daad to fly a special edition of their artwork Franchise Freedom in Rotterdam, in appreciation of healthcare workers and as a global sign of hope. Formed from a swarm of 300 luminous drones programmed to simulate the behaviour of starlings, Franchise Freedom sparks commentary on the relationships among humans, technology, nature, and the concept of freedom, while its transcendence is inspirational. As part of this performance and especially for this occasion, the drones formed a beating red heart, as a sign of hope and togetherness. The flight took place at 10pm CET (4pm EST).


Drift Franchise Freedom Rotterdam © Ossip van Duivenbode

Before the performance, DRIFT’s co-founder, Ralph Nauta, reflected:

“We’re flying Franchise Freedom for the healthcare workers and the people who are suffering from the virus. Unfortunately, art cannot be the solution, but it can create comfort during desperate times.”

Franchise Freedom has previously been showcased at Art Basel Miami (2017), Burning Man (2018) and at the NASA grounds (2018), in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The artwork was displayed on May 5th at 10PM CET above the hospital Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, as a tribute to all who work day and night for the freedom of others during this pandemic–and on an important date in Dutch history: Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag), which recognizes the end of the Netherlands’ occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Eighty years ago, Rotterdam was bombed during WWII. Today, the city has rebuilt itself as a cultural hub and its hospital, Erasmus MC, has become the main center coordinating all COVID- 19 patients in the Netherlands. World famous pianist Joep Beving who composed the music for Franchise Freedom, performed an original composition, Ab Ovo, in the hospital for staff as the drones were flown.

Jeroen Everaert, Founder and Director of Mothership, commented:

“On this special Liberation Day, the entire world is trapped in the grip of the COVID-19 virus. Mothership wants to cooperate by giving this artwork as a sign of hope. We must commemorate, hope and hold on!”

On a typical year, Liberation Day would have been kicked off with a lecture, followed by fourteen music festivals in the Netherlands’ major cities. This year, Franchise Freedom is being shown to give citizens–in not only Holland, but also around the world–a new way to feel united and celebrate freedom, at a time when gathering in crowds is unfathomable.

“We have seen during our previous performances that when people see the artwork together, it unites them. They are all looking at the same thing, and feel a part of a collective experience,”

commented DRIFT’s co-founder, Lonneke Gordijn.

The pattern formed by the drones prompts reflection on the concept of community, the role of the individual, and what can be learned from nature, as they mimic bird patterns. If the drones did not oscillate in synchronicity, the pattern would break and the work would dissolve. It illustrates that through collaboration, something truly awe-inspiring can be achieved.

Gordijn noted:

“This time makes us realize that animals always live in uncertain times and must react immediately to changes in the environment. In this time of complete uncertainty and ambiguity where we can’t look ahead, we depend even more on how we react as a group.”

Franchise Freedom encourages all to get through this crisis by continuing to conduct the dialogue together. When the work was shown, the intention was that everyone who saw it—be it from their window or a livestream online—takes a moment to consider what peace, beauty, hope and security means to them – and for a moment of relief and inspiration to be given to all.

This project was made possible without the support of :DRIFT, Mothership, Stichting Droom en Daad,Erasmus MC, Gemeente Rotterdam, Rotterdam Make it Happen, Nomobo,Xinix Films. WATCH the performance below

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