Pictures by Ode Windels

Playlist van de pluk


Contributor: Mona Thijs

Playlist van de pluk (‘Playlist of the picking season’) is an investigation into the poetry of multilingualism and a search for music that is meaningful to seasonal workers during the picking process.

In the summer of 2020, I spent two weeks picking apples on the plantation of a fruit farm in Borgloon (BE), my hometown. I was touched by the multilingualism: on the one hand it moved me how language confusion sometimes led to poetry, on the other hand I was confronted with the prejudices that the lack of a common language brought. In addition, while picking, there was always music, crackling from a box, that transcended the language differences.

In the months that followed, I wondered:

Can I find a form that embraces the mother tongues of the seasonal workers?

A form that tells them their languages are welcome,

a form that tells them they are even needed to create layered stories?


So in the summer of 2021 I stopped at several fruit farms, using the House for Seasonal Neighbours (created in 2018 by Ciel Grommen and Maximiliaan Royakkers) as a mobile studio. Together with a Bulgarian and a Polish interpreter, I asked the seasonal workers what music was meaningful to them while working here in Belgium. Behind the music a field of stories and meanings emerged, which I want to process into new narratives in the form of radio shows. A space for multilingualism, in which I make audible the questions that I keep asking myself during the research process:

Where does poetry appear in the absence of a common language?

Is being able to relinquish your own language a privilege?

When does music become political?

What happens when you surrender to another language?


De radioshows are broadcastes on the local radio station of Wellen (radio VRW)  on Saturday the 5th, the 12th and the 19th of March 2022, from 9 to 10 am.

Listen here online, as long as the exhibition ‘Our Invisible Hands’ in Z33 (Hasselt, BE) lasts (30 /1/ 2022 > 17 /4/ 2022)


Biography Mona Thijs


Thanks to Raymond Gemels (chairman of and technician at Radio VRW), Paul Thoelen (presenter and programmer at Radio VRW), Chris and Anja Groven (owners of fruit wholesale company Grofrubel), Christophe and Shirley (owners of fruit wholesale company Billen), Krista and Stefan (Massonet fruit company), Joanna Koziol (interpreter Polish-Dutch and Dutch-Polish during the discussion evenings in the fruit companies), Dimana Markovska (interpreter Bulgarian-Dutch and Dutch-Bulgarian during the discussion evenings in the fruit companies)

contact: info@seasonalneighbours.com ; +32 476 37 65 45