Jella Lena van Eck | We Are Human Rights

Jella Lena van Eck (1993) is a concept designer and filmmaker, or rather – as she describes it herself – a visual storyteller. “I’m not an artist who wants to make a film as a personal statement. I want to tell stories based on thorough research, using all possible visual techniques.”

Broader perspective

Growing up in Eindhoven, Jella Lena is inspired by her dad, an avid hobby photographer with a darkroom at home. She starts at Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design but switches to Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) to get a broader perspective. “I did not want to choose between art or design, photography or illustration. I also did not want to develop the concept of producing something as an expression of my inner self, but rather as the result of systematic research and design thinking."

"I want to tell stories based on thorough research, using all possible visual techniques.”

Jella Lena van Enck

Female masking

At DAE, as part of a project on subcultures, she makes a short film about so-called female masking. “I find it very intriguing: men who transform themselves into a living doll by squeezing themselves into rubber second skins. Even more, because there wasn’t a lot of information on this topic and members of this community were not very eager to participate because media easily describe them as freaky fetishists. I wanted to touch a deeper layer, create understanding without judgement.” In the end, Jella Lena manages to win the trust of a 70-year old man who likes to dress up as Kim Netto and she is able to make an intimate visual portrait of this female masker.

Big media production machine

The next step is an internship in Berlin at the worldwide multimedia platform Vice. “They were working on a documentary about female masking too, so I could join the team.” After this successful internship, she is offered a job by Vice as a junior producer. “Sounds like a dream for a young filmmaker, and in a way it was. They have resources: money, excellent equipment and experienced professionals. I have learned a lot about the production process. But at the same time, it’s a very commercially oriented company that wants to work as efficient as possible – time is money. It’s a big media production machine that leaves little time to do thorough research, rethink the subject and touch deeper layers.”

Back to Eindhoven

So after a fantastic year in Berlin, Jella Lena quits her job and decides to go back to Eindhoven to finish her education. Her graduation project - a video installation - is part of the presentation of DAE at the Milan design week in April 2017 and is curated for the prestigious 'New Icons – Rietveld Now' expo at Kazerne, the restaurant annex design and meeting center in Eindhoven. “That was very special to me. I worked at the restaurant when I was a student – now I came back as part of an exhibition, next to top designers such as Maarten Baas, Kiki van Eijk, and Piet Hein Eek.”

Human rights

In the meantime, Jella Lena joined the We are Human Rights project, initiated by the Austrian designer Bernhard Lenger in cooperation with the foundation Justice & Peace in The Hague. Seven human rights defenders from different countries are linked to seven designers, also from different countries but all based in The Netherlands, mainly Eindhoven. Through the creation of new solutions and tools, these six designers hope to create a better understanding in the fields of international law and human rights. “For this project, that was kicked off during Dutch Design Week 2017, I am linked to a human rights defender from Mexico”, Jella Lena explains. “A very interesting and challenging project. The results will be on show somewhere during 2018, as part of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948-2018),“

Jelle Lena van Eck is a concept designer and filmmaker. She graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven and started her own studio for developing and directing films. View the website of Jelle Lena van Eck and the website of the project We Are Human Rights.