A Fun Day Out

Apart form our meetup at the railways station and a pleasant walk in completely the wrong direction, it all started with a cup of coffee in the beautiful and sunny garden at Huis van Gijn. With our cups emptied, we went of into the museum.
The house that is now the museum used to be the home of Simon van Gijn. After his death van Gijn wanted his house to become a museum in which the many collections he owned were displayed. Yet he also wanted his former home to stay in tact.
On the third floor a film was shown in which a group of people lived for 24 hours in the house in the same manner as the former residents did in the early twentieth century. While the temporary residents were dressed in early twentieth century clothes and doing their early twentieth century things, they were constantly commenting there actions from a contemporary perspective. The scenes were set up in such an artificial way that even the 24 hours of pretending seemed to be a fiction, a role they played.

Just as the role of actors in the film, my relationship towards the house felt rather unclear. I am in a museum which is not a museum and I am in a home which is not a home. In what way did I have to look at the rooms and objects around me?
After lunch we went back in, now it was our turn to create our own roles and play them.

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At some point we all took folding stools, which were provided by the museum, to the third floor. There we all chose spots in different rooms and sat on our stools. When we sat there unmoved for a while, the automatic lights switched off.
Later on we used the folding stools in the ballroom. There we sat on them along the walls and had conversation. The alarm in the ballroom was tuned in a rather strange way, when someone walked in a sharp beep went trough the room. Whenever the beep went off, we would hold the conversation for a moment and change our position in the room. During the conversation we spoke about a number of things such as: what we like, Michel Houellebecq and nihilism, roughly in that order.



Huis van Gijn was picked out by Malou because of its smaller size. We would not be able to disappear in the museum and therefore the Parallelshow could not stay unnoticed. This was in my opinion a great decision. But although our presence was rather odd and the show was actually interfering their daily routine, the staff was friendly and did not intent at any moment to stop one of our performances. It probably helped that we were polite, but I am sure that they are friendly people as well. In reaction to this we decided to learn more about the staff. This lead to a number of pleasant conversations from which we wrote our conclusions down on the blackboard at the children reading corner in the attic.
We stayed in the museum from 11.00 am until closing time at 5.00 pm, when we left the museum this felt way to short.

Photo / video © KB
Glass work: Yuchi Higashionna, 2015

#7: Huis van Gijn (general report)

Preparations:
This is the first Parallel Show Frans van Lent was not involved in. He asked me to organise this show, so I had to address my own network and think about what a parallel show could be. Since Gijs Velsink and I work together a lot, it was obvious to ask him to join me. But next to that, I wanted to ask some artists I was not acquainted with.
It became a chain reaction of Gijs recommending Karina Beumer, Karina recommending Timo van Grinsven, Timo recommending Erin Helsen. I liked the fact that some artists were not really focussed on performance art, but more on sculpture. It could give some new dimensions to The Parallel Show (although it turned out to be mostly about performance).

I choose Huis Van Gijn with conviction. I visited the Onderwijs Museum (education) and the Dordrechts Museum (with the painter Schalcken on display) as two other options, but this all seemed too sentimental. Too nostalgic.
Huis Van Gijn is a place where time stands still, but it seemed impossible to join this illusion. And next to that, the place is quite big with its four floors, but still small enough to stay visible. I liked the scale of this house, so it became a yes.

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June 3, 2016
We met between 10.30 and 10.40 at the trainstation. Everybody was in time, so we enjoyed the sun and walked toward the museum. I guided, but walked the wrong direction without any doubts. A friendly resident mockingly lead us the right way. He lived in the same street at no. 164 and we said goodbye.

On 11.05 we entered Huis Van Gijn. It was allready busy and we had some coffee / tea in the garden and got to know each other a little bit. I explained something about the background of this event and after that, we started our visit / tour / expedition / inspection of the museum.

At some points, I was alone, at some points I talked and looked together with the other artists. I guess this was the same for everybody.

We met again at 13.30 in the garden and we had a delicious lunch. We spoke about striking features, our ideas, options to do. Karina immediately suggested the idea of collaboration and everybody agreed. We made a list of stuff to do, in which I summarized the ideas the others came up with.
Suddenly, time flied, so we had to hurry up, since the museum was closing at 17 p.m. You can read about it in the other reports.

At closing time, we tried to extend the opening hours. As a last gesture, we wrote something in the guest book. Karina wrote the wrong date. We were the last ones leaving.

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#7: Betsie

We spoke about The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq,
‘De kaart en het gebied’, the public and the beautiful servant who threw the ice-tea over Erin.

Gijs explained us what nihilism is about.
We played with the toys while Malou was reading to us.

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We dozed on the mattresses under the showcases with miniature carousels.
Timo folded the paper which carried the humidity information.
We tried to figure out the names and interests of all attendants; Kees, Jaqueline, Charlies and Betsie.
We sat in the rooms of the House van Gijn until the automatic movement lights switched themselves off.
We didn’t get lost and we didn’t switch roles, and we didn’t try to kill the time.

karinabeumer parallelshow 01 05062016      karinabeumer parallelshow 02 05062016

#7: The Pedestal became a Stage

Without doing any research I went to Dordrecht to see Huis van Gijn. I expected a very old museum with old paintings of old people.
When I got there I was surprised to see a beautiful house that had turned itself into a museum.
A museum full of different objects, some collected, others part of the original inventory.

We (as in the group of five artists) first looked around after a quick talk in the garden. While walking around and looking at the exhibition and the way of exhibiting, I started to look more closely into the more unnoticed things. For instance the sensors for the lights, sound and alarm.
It felt weird to investigate the space. My state of being as a spectating visitor ended after I had seen the whole exhibition. Normally you would leave after that. It felt like I was doing something wrong.

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We returned to the garden for drinks. Everybody talked about the experiences and what we could do as a group. My ideas were not ready. I erased everything I had in mind. There were only questions regarding what could be a good performance in a space that has so many rules. And what the minimum of a performance would be. The decision of being there for a long time with five Artists was maybe enough.

In one of the performances we occupied different spaces with the little stools from the museum. Something happened that we did not plan. By sitting in the space without any focus on the work present we ignored the function of each room. We were just there. Sometimes we met because we switched from room to room. When three of us met in the room full of dollhouses it felt like we changed the space a little. We added a function with our quiet gathering.

Our stay became more and more an invasion during the day. The guards were getting confused (we were already using their first names when we talked with them). And visitors started to ask questions or left the rooms very quickly when we were there. It was nice to use the museum. It has a perfect setup.

photo’s © KB

 

#7: The employees and Us

Meeting the employees
Starting my expedition, I first noticed the modern additions in the museum. Chicken wire, fire extinguishers, air humidifiers, plastic food, etc. I asked one of the guards about the humidifier and he told me why this machine was there. This was my first encounter with the employees.

Walking aroung in the house, I noticed every floor had a differend guard. Gijs and I met another guard on the first floor, she told us about her experiences with the ‘haunting house’ and the fact that her colleagues didn’t believe her. I got interested in the staff and during our lunch meeting, we decided to get to know them and gain some more information. Every aspect in the Huis Van Gijn is collected and disclosed. The family Van Gijn, the housekeepers, the carpets, the collection of books, vessels and ceramics, the dinnerparty’s. So why isn’t anything about the current situation visible?

Not everybody felt that comfortable with the perspective of chit-chatting, but Gijs, Karina and I were enthusiastic en eager for acquaintance. Not on a stalking / bigdata kind of way, but we started conversations in a sincere manner. Just to chat a bit. We gathered the information we got about Bahar, Jacqueline, Kees (all guards) and Charlies (from the coffeebar) on the chalkboard in the childern’s corner.

A few visitors came to take a closer look to our activities. We involved them in designing the board and included their names and hobby’s in it. The young girls started to draw and we had a fun conversation.

After this, we concluded the drawing with a notion that this all is part of The Parallel Show. When we left, with the inevitable chatter with the staff, we noticed our visit din’t stay unnoticed.

Nice to meet you!

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Let yourself be amused
One of the most striking sentences I came across was about mrs. Van Gijn in one of the movies about the family’s life. At a party, she had nothing more to do than talk about literature, travelling, art and ‘to let others amuse her’. This statement suggested a passive attitude, and I see certain similarities with visiting a museum as a tourist. It’s a place for pastime, where you’re searching for something to amuse you.

By chance I carried a book from Michel Houellebecq, which I had lent from Gijs and wanted to give back. The title is ‘Atomised’, a so-called nihilistic classic, suitable for intellectual conversations about literature. I proposed to read this out to eachother in the childern’s corner. We also used this book as a startingpoint for the conversation in the ballroom.

This work consisted of five adults sitting at a childern’s size table and bench, listening to the first two chapters of Atomised. It turned out that this book, complicated and very intellectual, is not very suitable for reading out loud. Allthough some sentences and parts of the story were amusing, it was difficult to follow the storyline and the keep paying attention. In this place, intented for pleasure, arose boredom and confusion.

#6: Ancient Shades

While we were drinking coffee on the terrace  in front of the Delphi museum I saw the first tourist entering from a staircase  underneath. He looked like an actor stepping on stage. Immediately I had an association with ancient theatre plays. Instead of priests and philosophers occupying the space in ancient times, we have tourists who are animating the spot nowadays .

Then Frans van Lent, initiator/organiser of the Parallel Show,  explained the project, and we started for the entrance of the sanctuary.

After the first curve in the path towards the remaining ruins I noticed a group of tourists meeting around a tree. The tree was in de shade and so were the tourists. Continuing for the Apollo temple I realised that all tourist-groups were stepping out of the burning sun and in the shade when a guide was explaining. I realised that stepping into the shade also means that you are stepping into a more comfortable space. Standing in the shade people feel more comfortable, at the same time they are taking distance from the site they are visiting. They are reflecting on the things they have been seeing on stage, in the sun.

As a visitor of the sanctuary you are constantly changing your perspective. From ancient times to modern times  and vice versa. But also from being part of a group and a visitor to your own individuality and personal need, the shade.

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After a lunch in the village we discussed our experiences and each suggested the group a performing work. I wanted to do something with the site, the tourist and we as a group of artists. I liked the idea of making a walk to the Apollo temple with the five of us and stopping under four or five trees we would pass by. We had to stand next  to each other in the shade, facing the antiquities. When tourists meet under a tree they are not standing in a tight position but they are spread all over the place.

The first spot where we were standing was located directly opposite the entrance. So we were looking at the tourists entering the site. On the second spot we stood quite a while and tourists started to notice that we were standing in a strange position. At that moment I realised that I was not only the creator of the concept but also the director of the implementation. I had to give the signal to stop the performance.

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After the third standing I noticed that doing such a thing makes you part of the surroundings but it also makes you reflect on a higher level. You reflect and act on the place and on the meaning of it but it also gives you ideas about the way people nowadays appropriate a holy spot to give their own life sense.

#6: Group Lift and a Map of Storage

I visited the Sanctuary of Apollo before. Today, compared to my last visit twenty years ago, the site is in its organisation far more adapted to the growing number of visiting tourists.
More fencing, more concrete, more signs. And also more supervision.

Until early afternoon the site was very crowded, many groups were moving around.
It was difficult to cut oneself off from this, so I used it as a point of departure.

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Group  Lift
The work started at the entrance of the site. I waited for the first organised group to pass me.
I joined this group in their way up, became part of it. When the group stopped for an explanation from the guide, I stopped too. When I noticed somebody of this group making a photo I went to that same spot and took the same shot.

    Copied tourists photo-positions

When another group passed the first group, I stepped over and joined that group to it’s next stop.
Again, as soon as I noticed somebody making a photo I made a photo from the same spot.
This process continued till I reached the Stadium at the highest part of the site, the Stadium.

The work started smoothly but slowed down on the way up. The groups became smaller (and younger) because the climbing was tiring. The last group up to the Stadium consisted of just three Italians climbing together. The organised groups already stopped at a lower level.
When I reached the Stadium the work ended.

Later, when it was less crowded, I was able to focus more on the physical aspects of the site itself.

Map of Storage
I made a series of photo’s of parts of the terrain without a presentation structure, parts where stones are nothing more than remains, leftovers. The site is, next to a historic spiritual center, also a storage of architectural objects that lost their initial purpose. What was once given to Apollo was never to leave his Sanctuary again.

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#6: Actions in the name of Apollo

For 5 years an image of the Tholos temple has been on my wall. I have marked a visual extension to it, by adding a picture of CCCP athletes exercising. When invited to participate in TheParallelShow, this image turned into a plan to be realized, along with encountering the sacred Omphalos stone and the Iniohos (Charioteer) up close.

On the site I had brought some props, that could be used if an opportunity occurred.
I did 3 actions using props and an intervention of gardening. Then, I followed the pre-existing plan, transforming the images on my wall into experienced events.

I. 3 actions using props in the name of Apollo, noted as instructions.

1. Tribute to the god of Light, Phoebus
Concentrate the Delphic light through a magnifying lens on the temperature-sensitive ticket of entrance to the Apollo’s temple, until shapes begin to appear. Stop immediately when the excitement of success is overcome, and you realize that you could be in control of the light and the shapes.
(Photo by Maarten / free entrance ticket found by Maarten)

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2. Tribute to the god of Locusts, Panorpius
Using a glass jar, capture a grasshopper (locust) in the archaelogical site. Focus on its structure, compare it with other structures attributed to Apollo, release.

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3. Tribute to the god of Marble, Marmarinos
Find a perfect fit for a contemporary marble object in one of the marble ruins. Does the contact between contemporary marble and ancient marble evoke thoughts of the sublime? Marble is in either case a material with eternal lifespan. Take a digital (immaterial) picture underlining the triviality of your own lifespan.

II. Gardening: an intervention
One of TheParallelShow’s basic instructions was that the performance should not leave any traces behind. At archaeological sites it is usually forbidden to remove anything from the site as a souvenir. Because succulent plants have the ability to be successfully replanted even without their roots, I removed 2 different kinds of succulent plants from the Apollo’s temple site and replanted them at the Athena Pronaia site, keeping a piece of each kind for my personal succulent collection.

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Replanted at the Athena Pronaia site and replanted at my succulent garden.

III. Following the pre-existing plan

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1.Encountering the Tholos at the Athena Pronaia site
Done.

2. CCCP athletes, exercises
Exercise 1: planking with one leg lifted (tripod plank).
Picture is taken by Jello, using a faceted lens tsimulate the multiplicity of the athletes, as in the original image.
Exercise 2the airplane
Visiting the museum after performing this exercise, the same posture was found on the mermaid figures that served as decorative handles for the Oracles tripod.

3. Encountering the sacred Omphalus stone, which marked the center of the world.
At this point, I was already tired.
When in the Omphalos stone room, I forgot to bend ove the repositioned center of the world.

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4.Encountering the Charioteer (INIOHOS):
A fly flew around the Charioteer room, and sat on his foot leading my focus there. These feet of exquisite craftsmanship, were not to be seen in the original sculpture composition, as they would be hidden behind the chariot. The fly gave me the terrible impression that the Charioteer had smelly feet. The brief illusion of bodily odor, once again confirmed the Charioteer’s vibrant mystique.

Ending the day, I ate the “Iniohos burger” (μπιφτέκι Ηνίοχος) at the “INIOHOS Hotel Restaurant”.

#6: Walk-Formation-Walk

Preparations for performative works
In Delphi, I found myself lost in both the now-moment and in history. Exploring the site, I decided to wander around while making notes of both my state of mind and of my findings. I also took photographs at random.

Here’s what I wrote during the first hour:
‘I am walking, I look around without concentration. My focus constantly switches on and off. Turmoil in my head. I climb the stairs slower and slower, stop, take my camera and make pictures of plants and flowers.
I hear tourist-guides around me. They chatter in Greek, American, Chinese, Italian.
I pick up lost pieces of paper ( a Wi-Fi number, a lottery paper, a ticket origami, folded). I took a picture of one of these.
I listen to bird sounds while I’m walking.

For some time I follow my shadow, until the stairs lead me in another direction. Cameras  are clicking everywhere around me. Now I am at the spot where Zeus threw down a stone to mark the centre of the world.
I feel rushed, groups of tourists are passing. I cannot concentrate. I continue and wait, standing in the shade of a tree. Looking around: stones everywhere, remnants of columns. Excited shouts of tourists who discover signs, braille texts.
It starts to get warm now: 30 ° Celsius and it is only 9:45 in the morning. The slope is in full sunlight.
Why can’t I remember this place the way I experience it now? I was here before, somewhere in The 70’s.

I want to know and not know at the same time.
I decide to stop writing and to take pictures, I want to be in the present.
I am aware that I am walking here to prepare a performative work that I will carry out this afternoon. I would like to postpone this moment of developing an idea.
I start writing again because I am afraid to lose the experiences, the details. I am a lousy researcher. I can’t concentrate. I switch my focus to easily.

I am climbing on. From the theater I look down at the temple of Apollo in the valley. I think about teaching materials for my pupils (age 7-9). A tourist shouts ‘stop!’ to her group, pointing that she wants to make a group photo.
My pencil drops a heavy shadow on the paper. I could make a drawing now but I decide not to.
I have to find my focus.

I continue  my climb up to the Stadium.  Alexia just comes down with a story about the behaviour of an eccentric female-guard.
I am curious, I get distracted again.  At the stadium I meet  Frans and Maarten and we talk about possible works. While descending  the mountain I do some tests for the afternoon works. I regain my focus. But because of that I lose the scurrying around aimlessly and with that, the feeling that anything is possible. I find back all possibilities in the test with water. Then I get distracted again.’

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Action and effects of water
While descending the mountain  I sometimes stop to pour a bit of water on the ground and watch it transforming in different shapes and disappearing by evaporation. I make several pictures. While focussing on the action and effects, I felt tourist passing without giving any attention. Or were they just polite and let me go on, thinking their own thoughts?

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Performing a walk-formation-walk
For this performance I asked the other participants (Frans, Jello, Maarten and Alexa) to join. We started like any group of tourists, walking disorderly following the instructions of the guide. At a signal we gathered and formed a circle with our backs pointed inwards. After a while I called the name of something I noticed at that moment. The others did the same in other languages. We left the circle again, started walking disorderly, and the gathering repeated in different places for 3 times.

After Maartens ‘Line-up in the shade’-performance I felt less at ease. I felt more observed. The sound of saying words loudly makes the act more noticeable.  I start choosing more eye catching places to form a circle, like the theatre. The side effects were unexpected: a group of tourists (from Shanghai) asked us to join them for a group selfie while singing out loud together. I do not know whether our performance triggered a sense of community . I guess it is a coincidence.

Ellen3    Ellen4

Map of Storage waiting for research
For my 4th performative work  I used the concept Map of Storage of Frans van Lent. I took a series of photographs with a filter I borrowed from Alexia Karavela. She brought several different camera-filters. I chose the one with a grid on it. I started to look for a non-object while other visitors of the archaeological site were moving in prescribed directions. As soon as I found an unnoticeable spot, I took several pictures, holding  the filter between the non-object and the camera-lens. The results were unpredictable. The filter with the grid directed my choice for taking or not taking a picture. Sometimes sharp, sometimes blurry, sometimes with the background in focus.

On a map I marked the places where I took the photos.

Ellen5    Ellen6