Vissi d’Arte tells the story of many young immigrants who try to cross the borders of Europe and find out that what seemed to be a warm and welcoming continent, is in fact not taking people in without receiving something in return.


For Fashionclash and Dress to Protest I sat down with designer Michelle Cornelissen in November to work with her on a performance and a design. We had one week to complete a work on Europe, on something we felt needed telling, on people we knew deserved a voice. Dress to Protest is collaboration between Studio Europa and Fashionclash in Maastricht, and focusses on the stories clothes bring with them. Each design has a tale to tell, and in this case, a protest for Europe.

“My talent is no password, my voice can’t be my passport. My voice won’t be my rights. I have a right to sing.”

– fragment from Vissi d’Arte


Michelle and I worked on a story about young immigrants and the challenges they face when coming to the European Union. Our specific story was based on a young opera singer who could not enter the EU unless he worked for the EU, in other words, unless he sold his voice and soul. Apparently there is no freedom of movement anymore. You can only come if you have something to give.

Michelle’s design is military, but vulnerable. I’m sure she has much more to say about it on her site. In my performance, I also aimed for a combination of strength and sensitivity. No protest is one with screaming only. And so I went from Puccini’s Vissi d’arte into a spoken word. Together with other designs and performances we walked in an artistic march.

Vissi d’Arte was shown during Fashionclash’s Dress to Protest from 2 to 8 December 2019 in Maastricht.