Meet The Millennials I An interview with Lucas De Man
Meet The Millennials is the result of Lucas De Man and Hyunsin Kim’s travels to 6 East Asian cities in 6 weeks, meeting and speaking to over 100 millennials ranging from students and professors to business owners, social entrepreneurs, and experts in robotics and artificial intelligence.
Anupama Sekhar talks to Lucas De Man, Artistic Director of New Heroes and creator of Meet The Millennials, a fascinating multimedia art project exploring the hopes and aspirations of a generation in the cultural contexts of Asia and Europe.
Meet the Millennials will be presented as a theatrical lecture performance at 20:30 on 25 October 2018 in Brussels as part of the ASEM Cultural Festival.
“We have no ‘Big Truths’ anymore, so we millennials have to figure out everything on our own. Storytelling, personal, direct and more participative art forms are becoming more popular because they do not pretend to know it all. They are closer to the people.” Lucas De Man, creator of Meet The Millennials
Meet the Millennials, your fascinating project, brings together documentary, anthropology and multimedia art to capture the pulse of our times: our hopeful young, our hyper-urban lives and the dramatic social changes of our times. What is your own take on your genre? Why did you choose this topic of investigation and this format?
Lucas De Man (LDM): I believe we artists always have to choose the right formats to provide content. I wanted to capture the struggles and hopes of the millennial generation in East Asia. Hence, I chose a combination of documentary, animation, storytelling, K-Pop and lecture because this fast-paced eclectic format fits best with the equally fast-paced, information-craving, and impulsive young generation I met on my journey.
The millennials, unfortunately, seem to suffer from a bratty reputation. They are often characterized as entitled, self centered and shallow. How unfair is this characterisation? And, what surprised you most about this generation during your encounters with the Millennials?
It is very unfair and it is the generation before us that defines us that way. It shows that they don’t know and understand us. Yes, we have more things and luxuries than they had growing up, but to say we are spoiled is too hasty. The millennials, especially in East Asia, work very hard and understand that money and material things are not the answers to a good life. Money and success lead to stress, competition and loneliness. We realise that there is more to life than work and material things. I am really happy to see that so many young people are fighting for more equality, rights and honesty in society. The younger generation is looking for new ways of connecting and taking care of each other, now that the traditional roles and divisions in society are fading. It is not easy but they are working hard and that makes me proud.
How do the millennials see the arts? What value do they see in bringing their personal lives and their societies? How different (or similar) is it to their parents’ generation?
The younger generation is not as drawn to traditional arts, but they do appreciate art forms that energise and entice them. The need for good storytelling is greater than ever. We have no “Big Truths” anymore, so we have to figure out everything on our own. Storytelling, personal, direct and more participative art forms are becoming more popular because they don’t pretend to know it all. They are closer to the people.
What was the most unexpected reaction to Meet the Millennials from European audiences?
The most prominent reaction was that Europeans had no idea how advanced and smart the millennials in Asia are. Europeans tend to think of themselves as the "most advanced and smartest" people especially on social issues, but to see how well the younger generation is doing in Asia and how much inspiration we, as Europeans, get from them was groundbreaking for many older Europeans. The younger Europeans loved discovering how much they shared and have in common with the millennials in East Asia.
Could we expect to “Meet The (European) Millennials” on film sometime soon?
I hope so. We have the live performance that we hope to bring to Asia and we are working on a 6-episode documentary in television format that, hopefully, will be online in 2019.
Cover image: Copyright Rob Holslag
All other images: Copyright Fullframe
The ASEM Cultural Festival takes place on 18-30 October 2018 at the Centre for Fine Arts-Brussels (BOZAR) in Brussels, Belgium alongside the 12th ASEM Summit (ASEM12) (18-19 October 2018, Brussels), which brings together Heads of State and Government from the 53 partners of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) for dialogue on “Europe and Asia: Global Partners for Global Challenges”
The ASEM Cultural Festival is a celebration of dance, digital art, film, music, theatre and visual arts from Asia and Europe and features among others Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar (Mongolia), Bi Gan (China), Honore d’O (Belgium), Pichet Klunchun (Thailand), Wang Shu (China), and Svetlana Berezhnaya (Russia).
Tickets to Meet The Millennials at: https://bit.ly/2OhfQs9
ASEM Cultural Festival Programme: https://bit.ly/asemfest
The festival is organised - as an official side event ASEM12 - by Centre for Fine Arts-Brussels (BOZAR) with the support of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the European Union, the host of the ASEM12 Summit.