Space Programme 2011

February 3d 2011. It was the middle of the night when I received the message. I was invited onto the SPACE Programme 2011. While jumping a hole in the air I wondered where I'd left my space suit.

The Space Programme offers artists of all disciplines an opportunity to collaborate, experiment and innovate in an inspiring environment. The project takes place over a two-week period at Castletown House Co. Kildare, it is an open ended process hosted by The Performance Corporation. The programme facilitates artists from diverse backgrounds to collaborate and explore their artistic process while removing the pressure to come up with an end product.

This weblog gives an insight in my thoughts and working process during the Space Programme and tells about some projects that came out of this wonderful opportunity.

dinsdag 22 maart 2011

from one end to the other ...

The Giant and I went to the other end of the island today. Keem beach, where they used to catch basking sharks by trapping them in nets which were attached to the cliffs, killing them by harpoon from currachs (traditional boats). It was a tough journey but we made it. On the road I thought of many things I wanted to write about but they all disappeared in the seawind. I’m left with an empty head. For now at least. Overnight it will probably fill up again.

Some old thoughts instead. For example: the marathon I (did not) ran on my final day in Castletown House. Friday March 18th I was exactly 14.058 days old. I decided to walk/run this exact amount of steps on the stairs connecting all the floors of Castletown House, starting from the first step on the ground floor and walking up and down until I would make my 14.058th step. I asked everybody to walk in and out, use the stairs like on any other day, do some cheering from time to time, hand me some water or a sandwich or a towel or anything else I might need. By walking those 14.058 steps on those stairs, surrounded by or passing the people I worked with so intensely, my whole life and those two weeks, possibly even those two hours in which I walked and ran, became one and the same thing.

Of looks and landscapes and Lucy's

The Giant* and I went on a trip along the Atlantic Ocean today. We did well together, steep hills, amazing cliffs, sheep staring at us wherever we went. The sheep reminded me of something I read just before I went to sleep last night:
“The eyes of an animal when they consider a man are attentive and wary. The same animal may well look at other species in the same way. He does not reserve a special look for man. But by no other species except man will the animal’s look be recognised as familiar. Other animals are held by the look. Man becomes aware of himself returning the look. “ John Berger, About Looking (p. 4/5).
Although I spend quite some time in Ireland in recent years I never had the chance to spend a lot of time outside. The landscape here is breathtaking. It changes before your eyes. Clouds veil and unveil the views. When you close your eyes and open them again you moved to a different world.
I did some thinking about how people are influenced by the landscape they live in. How the gaiety and cheerfulness of the Irish can be traced back to these clouds and bogs and austere mountains. I’m not sure I found the answer yet but I’m pretty sure a certain degree of compensation for all the rain comes in somewhere. A combination of softness and roughness might be another thing to look at.
I also thought about Lucy’s, about the old Lucy at first. I met her in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2007. We were both working at the Elsewhere Living Museum. One of the things I remember about her is her red coat. It was a wintercoat, long and heavy. Red as you image the colour when you hear the word red. It was june, blazing hot. We sweated our way through the residency programme, wearing shorts and tiny t-shirts. And then Lucy fell in love. She fell madly in love with a red wintercoat even though there was no way there would be any space left in her suitcase and wearing it wasn’t an option. But she bought the coat and took it with her to England. I don’t know how she did it but she did.
I never thought about it again until today. I looked at the videomaterial I shot at the Space Programme. I saw the red coat starring in it. Lucy’s red coat. But a different Lucy. And a different coat.

Here's the new Lucy in the Map Room in Castletown House. She's wearing her red coat.

* Giant = the brand of my bike

Achill Island

My wonderful partners

maandag 21 maart 2011


Trying to be a mountain

I don’t know where to start. At the startingpoint? That makes sense. But not in this case. My startingpoint is today, which is just over two weeks since the Space Programme started. I’m looking back at a project where for once I was really in the moment. Maybe it makes more sense not to talk about it. But if I don’t I’m afraid I’ll forget. That’s probably why I transported myself to a house opposite a mountain. The mountain has been there for ages. When I look at it I feel at ease. It is the extreme opposite of what happened the last two weeks. I’m standing still and the mountain moves. Of course I don’t mean the mountain itself but the image of the mountain. My perception of the mountain. It is different every moment. It turns from grey to brown to orange to black to golden. It is covered in clouds or impressively naked. It is threatening or beautiful or comforting. Sometimes everything at the same time.
I rented a bike to explore the island. When I’m on my bike - a Giant - I don’t think. When I’m on my bike I’m the mountain. Everything changes around me, I change colours and texture and my surface becomes wet or shiny or dusty. The island stares at me. I try not to stare back but sometimes I can’t resist. Especially when there are mountains in sight.

Now here

Do you see the small cluster of trees in the middle of the left side of the left photo? That's where I am. In a pink house, surrounded by bog. If you look carefully you can see me sitting behind the window on the 1st floor. Staring.
The mountain looks golden now, the stones shattered on its flanks shine like diamonds. There is a purple cloud softly caressing its peak. Blue sky. The day is almost over.
I'm trying not to move. When I move I will forget.

woensdag 16 maart 2011

I'm sorry

I've got 1.000 things to tell you and a huge amount of exciting images and ideas to show you but literally no time to write. I'm in the middle of a whirlwind, a tornado of people and disciplines, yesterday I was a dancer, today I sang in a chorus, friday I'll walk a marathon and inbetween I'm drawing and photographing and thinking and trying not to sleep so I won't miss a second of this amazing adventure.
I'll get back to you next week. I have to dive back in now.

dinsdag 8 maart 2011

maandag 7 maart 2011

a bed is a space is a page is a bed

“What does it mean, to live in a room? Is to live in a place take possession of it? What does taking possession of a place mean? As from when does somewhere become somewhere become truely yours?”
(Georges Perec, Species of Spaces, p. 24)

I’m writing this from my bed. I call it my bed already, although this is only my second night here. The bed matches the room. It is old and very comfortable and covered by a beautiful quilt. There are four pillows and I’ve got a nice overview since the legs are extra long. Actually the bed is closer to the ceiling than the windows are which is somewhat strange. When I’m in the bed I can see the river.

“We generally utilize the page in the larger of its two dimensions. The same goes for the bed. The bed (or if you prefer, the page) is a rectangular space, longer than it is wide, in which, or on which, we normally lie longways ..... The bed is thus the individual space par excellence, the elementary space of the body (the bed-monad), the one which even the man completely crippled by debt has the right to keep: the bailifs don’t have the power to seize your bed.”
(George Perec, Species of Spaces, p. 16)

We made a tour through the Castletown House today. The rooms are amazing. One of them is called the State Bedroom. There is an enormous yellow bed in it. William Connolly, the son of an innkeeper who became the wealthiest, most powerful politician in Ireland and the man who had the Castletown House build, used to sleep there. Or maybe he didn’t. He was receiving guests there in the morning while sitting up in bed and being dressed. Like they did in the French court at Versailles.
Imagine that. Waking up and facing a group of visitors watching you being dressed. Imagine being dressed. Imagine being in a big yellow bed being dressed while being asked peculiar questions. I can’t imagine what they would ask. Or how answering questions while being in bed can impress people. Not even when it is an enormous yellow bed.

Maybe my dreams will make up for my lack of imagination. Let’s see where my bed takes me tonight.

zondag 6 maart 2011

The memory of a tree

From today on I’m living in a mini cathedral. You can find me behind one of those round windows, sitting on the ground, trying to read the signs some insects have left in the wooden floor. Staring out over the estate. At eight pm they close the gate and I’m locked inside a mysterious landscape. I made a walk in the afternoon, when it was still light. I found a hole in the roof of a small temple and thought about getting a ladder and sticking my hand through the hole to touch the sky. Later on I saw a tree carrying its own memory. A tree within a tree. Shaped like the trees I used to draw as a child.