Pictures by Ode Windels

Playlist van de pluk


Contributor: Mona Thijs

Playlist van de pluk (‘Playlist of the picking season’) is an artistic research project in which I search for music that is meaningful to seasonal workers during the picking season, in their own mother tongues.

Which chorus makes the apples weigh less? Which bridge lulls them to sleep? What song carries their criticism? And to what stories does that music lead us?

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?

Project in collaboration with Radio VRW (Vrije Radio Wellen).

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