Sickhouse celebrated their sixth anniversary and it was fun!

Without a physical space to gather, Sickhouse is looking for different ways to be present, support its community and share playfulness. This is why we are publishing this magazine, to find you again, share some thoughts and take you on the new reflective theme for this year.

At the start of 2024, Sickhouse does not have a space to present and host its program. Finding a new location is a challenge we have been working on since a few years but the last months have shown how difficult the path towards a fitting space is. And we are not alone in this struggle, revealing a great fragility within the cultural middle field of Enschede.

One could wonder why Sickhouse needs a space, when it could be nomad, presents programs within the institutions Enschede/The Netherlands already has, rent a desk in one of the few co-work spaces of the city, mingle with entrepreneurs, free itself from the burden of rent and focus all its budget on content.

But this position fails to see that the large part of Sickhouse’s content is its community. The programs centre around the encounter, the gathering. Designing and crafting its physical space allows  Sickhouse’s visitors to feel safe,  encourages experiment and supports diversified encounters. As a playful art space, Sickhouse does not only support the makers of games or interactive art, it actively uses play as a means to engage in the difficult discussions we urgently need to have in times of polarisation.

One could argue that, as specialised in video games and virtual spaces, Sickhouse could gather online and again free itself from the burden of a physical space. That’s something Sickhouse definitely explored, in the times of the pandemic and when hosting hybrid events. It has been challenging, it has been fun, it needs time, it needs courage and it needs a solid base.

Sickhouse continues to work on such online spaces, trying to find the right balance between the gathering and the playground open to our (international) community. But when our ambition is to support the construction of bridges between virtual and physical, such space can not live alone. The ways to inhabit the world are neither online or offline anymore but in hybrid and layered realities. As an experimental space, Sickhouse is actively reflecting, supporting and creating new navigation systems.

But what physical room, alternative organisations, artists based communities or experimental programs can find, in a realty market at the hand of private owners, rich real estate developers, multinational retail companies? Confronted with this reality, Sickhouse is wondering what impact eternal temporality would have? When we want to create rooms from the glitches, what is stability? Not forgetting that the struggles inherent to alternative, critical, queer, underground spaces are political choices, we are creating our path of resistance. When our societies are dealing with one crisis after another, symptoms of hurtful politics and an economy based on inequality, Sickhouse creates critical and caring programs supporting deeper transformations.

At the time of writing this editorial, Sickhouse is working on its next temporary situation and it will be fine and it will open soon. In 2024 the city is implementing the new “culture nota” and if we believe culture needs more fundamental support, these steps, that many of us worked on with the Gemeente, are promising and hopeful. Finishing this editorial on a positive note is not a way to ignore the situation the world is in, it is an invitation to consider resilience, hope, care, patience as significant tools in a movement that demands a lot of endurance.