No Man’s Land is a kaleidoscopic portrait of inspiring people; from familiar faces to that stranger you sit next to on the bus every day. The common thread of those portrayed is that they find new insights and set other priorities in our reshuffled society. Instead of seeing their old lives swept away, they see new frameworks emerge in the corona crisis.

Twan van Steenhoven

profound simplicity

I felt like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Stuck in a time loop: I woke up, watched TV, fed my baby at regular intervals and went back to sleep. And then the next day it was the same, all over again. I got me *** loco. The good thing you come to realize is, that when you’re down, it all starts back from zero. And the only way is up. So, suddenly I’ve come to appreciate the simple things in these crazy times. For the first time in 15 years, I’ve jumped on my skateboard again, contacted people I’d lost sight of. I have to say I’m happier now than I was before the corona crisis.



This crisis is a stepping stone to self-reflection. For many of us, it’s the first time we’ve really had to think from an ‘us’ perspective instead of ‘me’. Even with a minimal chance of me dying of corona, I’m staying home for the elderly. This togetherness reminded me of the village in Kenia where I grew up. As an individual, you depend on yoir tribe, on others. There’s a lot of respect for the community. This deep awareness is called ‘Ubuntu’: I am because we are. The bigger picture now concerns us all.


reality check

I’ve had corona myself and I laid flat for 2 weeks. Then I woke up in a kind of rouse in which the floor was pulled out from under me because everything was canceled bit by bit. Life has never been an easy ride for me anyway, and I really think that when you firmly wish for and visualize something, you can manifest it with the right energy. And then, all of a sudden, I was bursting with creativity. Sometimes extreme circumstances are needed in order to make progress.


depicting the core

My mother works in special care. She came home with a black eye because she was hit by a resident. For 3 months, day in and day out, she had to tell them they could not go pick up balloons at McDonalds. For a mentally disabled person this is a literal purpose in life. This surpassed everything for me. How can I whine about the fact that I have to take a shopping cart into the supermarket even when I only have to do 1 errand? Every time I think I am having a hard time, I check in with my mom.


live in the moment

I’ve done a drive-in concert, totally out of my comfort zone. Normally I see people in the audience instead of cars. Now I got a honking of horns instead of an applause. It was beautiful and moving, a merge of different emotions. It made me realize that it is important to live in the moment and not to dwell too much on the past.


making the best of it

Yes it’s annoying that you can’t give each other a kiss or look each other straight in the eye, but I’ve had to do it like this for years. Do you hear me whining? You just have to make the best of it. And when the Grim Reaper’s at the door, I say: ‘Hey! Will you take good care of me up there?’ So, yeah.


intensified engagement

The crisis made me realize I was lost in the mists. We are so individualized and yet so disconnected from ourselves and each other. In the past months I have learned to focus on what is of true value: my family, friends & my health.





Ik denk dat ik deze crisis anders heb beleefd dan anderen, aangezien ik me vanaf een jonge leeftijd bewust heb moeten worden van mijn positie in de maatschappij als een zwarte queer. ik kreeg echt doodsbedreigingen als” als jij naar Dokkum komt, hak ik je hoofd eraf want dit is hoe wij dat doen in dokkum”. Wat ik meer zie ontstaan door de corona crisis is dat we zijn gegroeid als het gaat om empathie. We zijn er natuurlijk nog lang niet, maar we  zijn meer stil gaan staan bij onze leef routines en hebben meer mind space om te luisteren naar andere mensen en verhalen. 



wake-up call

My grandfather sent me a note: ‘I was born in 1940 and then came 5 years of war. Now I may be living my last 5 years in wartime as well. But this is also the time to make the world a better place. Good luck! Love!’ I believe we lived in an unsatiable and unsustainable world. On all levels: from flying to eating. It was always more, more, more.  And I admit I was part of it myself… At last we’re standing still.


compelled optimism

We really shouldn’t be saying this, but despite the terrible events, corona also has some positive side effects. After all, we are condemned to optimism. I remember very well that I had just been told that I had AIDS. My tears mixed with shower water. Until it occured to me: yesterday I knew I was going to die too, didn’t I? In fact, nothing changed at all.


forced consciousness

What strikes me about it all: I witnessed the AIDS outbreak in ’82. It was a disease among gays, so nobody gave a fuck about it and nobody spent a penny on it. Now all of a sudden we’re in an awful hurry. Corona has no color, no race, nor judgment. Anyone could die of it. I hope this has all taken long enough to create a turnaround in our mindset. I’m not sure though, however, when I see a full Dam protesting against racism I am proud: because we think with our hearts instead of our heads.