Sunday morning. The day before, a snow storm. Now clear skies. And very cold.
We meet up at The Cloisters.
Some of us knew each other, some meet for the first time.
Steef knows Ieke, me, Frans.
Frans knows Steef, Irina, Ieke.
Ieke knows Frans, Steef, Irina.
Irina knows Ieke, Frans, me.
I know Steef, Irina, Rafael.
Rafael knows me, Ventiko.
Ventiko knows Rafael.
After a short meeting about the day we go our own ways, exploring the museum.
We meet for lunch. The Café in the Museum is closed in winter. We have to go out.
Down the steep hill. Children on sleds.
back up the hill
a bit like Switzerland
not like the Netherlands.
Before we part Irina asks as us to count the steps from outside the museum up to the main floor.
Ieke gives everybody a line or two to recite as we wish.
Ventiko asks us to sometimes copy one of the others.
Frans asks for everybody to be in close proximity of each other for the first 15 min.
connecting with each other.
Irina asks us to smile at the figure #59.
I ask the others to join me to build a circle with the chairs in the chapel
in case they are back in lines in the afternoon.
And put them back into rows by the end of the day.
Some of us end the day with Spaghetti in my little apartment in the Lower East Side.
They came before I was open, standing outside my door but inside my protective wall. They took photos of my door. I watched them.
When my doors were unlocked, one of them bought tickets at the entrance. They were polite but I could see that they were watching me in a way that was different from the normal visitors. Looking for gaps and seams, looking at how I was prepared to be shown.
They moved through me like all the others, reading, taking some notes, taking some photos and making some sketches. They paid careful attention to the ways I was left unguarded.
They moved around more boldly, looking now at my employees and the other visitors with the same examining gaze. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them, but all I could do was watch.
When they left, I was relieved. But then they came back.
They stood near a tour that passed through me every weekend. A large and passive group. The group stood around listening while loaded up with bags, coats and cameras. I have a public coat-check, but most tourists are too careful to let their things remain unguarded in my cloakroom. These visitors stayed on the outskirts of the tour, watching, taking notes, and occasionally penetrating the group or abandoning it mid-history. They were only pretending to be interested – they were looking for other things.
They began doing things to me. Standing inside my hidden compartments, waiting in the dark, watching. Holding positions that had been previously mine. I felt, what? Exposed? Vulnerable? Violated? They brought a buzzing tension, a level of curiosity, tenderness, but also invasiveness, despite its subtle restraint. I remember when my compartments were used this way before, but I was built for this type of watching, and I am familiar with it, it’s all I know. But in the many years since that time, I have shed many layers of protection, and was not prepared for this coordinated trespass. I accept that I must be looked at, but I also determine what I show and how I show it. These outsiders wanted to get inside me and reconstruct who watched whom and for what purpose. I was disturbed.
Finally they tired of their game, took a few more photos of my Lenins and light fixtures. Then, mercifully, they left. I waited until they were safely out of sight, and then exhaled.
Thus began our meeting in Valencia. On our way to meet the double, a kind of ‘parallel’ Frans Van Lent in a jazz and chess club in the old town and… we got lost strolling through the city.
Sunday, September 18th 2016
We met at 11:00, opening hour at the IVAM (Valencian Institute of Modern Art). Frans, Nico, Pepe, Joana and me. TheParallel Show#8 had begun and from this moment, a story begins, a detective story, a story of the explorers of museums.
At the moment we crossed the museum frontdoor, none of us knew each other. We had to investigate and follow the trace of the artworks, building relationships and dialogues through a coded language between space, works of art, visitors and museum staff. At first, I went through a phase that consisted of me identifying with the environment, an attempt to achieve mimesis through empathy. For a moment, one ceases to be one self to be an other. The first feeling was invisibility. By the time I stopped being visible, I started to become audible: every certain interval of time I dropped my notebook. The first contact with the museum occurred through the light room. Light and darkness that created paths of absence and presence.
In this room everything is calm, nothing moves and the light remains.
It was in the hall of memory I began to dispel. An ethereal installation where one becomes volatile. A dance between fabrics that weave a reverie. Disappearance. And a figure emerges from the fabrics. We exchanged gazes and turned our backs to each other. We started walking in opposite directions, surrounding the maze. As we crossed paths, my notebook fumbled from my hands.
Points of departure and arrival (departure / Arrivé) that lead into a silent, cold and lonely labyrinth. A presence guards the entrance, so no one gets lost in between the walls’ stares. Absolute visibility.
A change of scenery is perceived when crossing the hall. The coldness thaws, it reaches the hall of matter and figures, of lights and deep shadows. From the profound silence, one can perceive life, sound and motion.
Later, I begin to wander through the museum and suddenly I emerge in a city inside a city within a city. Contemplation and identification with the space inside space within space.
Walks inside walks within walks.
Readings that initialize or end a path of the reverse. A trajectory that continues both around the building and it’s underground.
Crossing the museum’s boundaries, we found the room of the wall, where order and linearity acquire a resounding presence. The room of order transforms into the room of rhythm and sequence.
It´s 14:00 h. We meet, and in my notebook the following phrases can be found:
Making contact with the space.
Observing, exploring, living, enjoying, experimenting.
Throwback to childhood. Play, fun.
It’s like visiting the museum for the first time.
In search of an event, a happening.
The museum as a jungle.
The museum as a space of play.
Boundaries breached. Choreography of art.
Art, artists, visitors.
Being part of the exhibition space.
Re-defining it. Re-living it. Perverting it.
We sat down and started brainstorming. Together we created a whole. A new language of relationships between space, time and bodies. Producers of meaning finally turned into word hunters.
LINE: In the room of light everything endures. Stillness, silence. Mysteriously, the light begins to spin. The rubbing of skin glows in elliptical shapes. The room comes to life. Let there be light, and there was light.
FAREWELL: In the labyrinth of memory, figures appear and disappear, come and go. They cloak themselves. Movements generated by the intertwining of streets that hide behind volatile silhouettes.
WET: The hall of matter and figures sounds like life itself, transforming into melody and movement. The room’s inhabitants produce footprints and footsteps, while a truncated voice is mellowed with sugar. Notebooks that lose their balance and shoe instruments make up an orchestra.
INTERFAXION: The wall hall has a linear rhythm. It is a sequence of works. And movements. It’s the dance hall in which new dancers join the repetition of pictorial contemplation.
TURN: The parallel show turned into a fun experience and a practice of freedom…a journey into childhood, to observe with new eyes and bring forth new issues. The parallel show doesn’t answer. It asks.
It is a language in which the body acquires importance in the exhibition space, where the event and serendipity itself shine and dance between the gaps of art.
And like all detective stories, a ludic promenade took place, in which the pursuers probably became the pursued.
A walk carried out by the detectives of museums, seekers of adventure, sliding under the attentive watch of the guards. A dance that was immortalized from the virtual. A drawing that seems to manifest that our actions took place in a parallel museum.
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.
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.
We all met the day before at the busstation in Athens. Together we travelled to Delphi.
On arrival we agreed to meet next morning at opening time at the Archeological museum.
On Saturday May 28 at 08.00 we came together at the entrance of the museum.
We bought tickets for the museum and the archeological site, we had a coffee and I explained to the others the character and the background of TheParallelShow. We discussed the experimental nature of the project and the possibility to change any rule (except the rule of leaving no traces).
We then all individually left for the Sanctuary to explore the site and to find possibilities and opportunities.
At the start we were tourists as well as participants in the project, and susceptible to the history and beauty of the site. It takes some time to get accustomed in order to distance oneself somewhat from that first impression.
At 12.00 we met again at the entrance and, as a group, returned to the town to have lunch and to discuss the possibilities.
After lunch, back at the site, we started to carry out two cooperative works (concepts of Ellen and Maarten) and then the team split up to perform all individual works.
Finally we met again at the entrance of the museum at 18.00.
We met on February 11 at 11.00 in front of the main entrance of the Art Rotterdam Art Fair.
We entered the restaurant together for a cup of coffee and to discuss our approach to the event.
A year ago we already planned The Parallel Show at the Art Rotterdam Art Fair 2015.
Ieke Trinks, Ienke Kastelein, Peter Baren and I discussed the concept during a meeting in my studio some weeks before. At that time there was no intention of making it the start of a series, it was conceived as a unique occasion.
Because of personal circumstances this ParallelShow was finally cancelled. Some months later, in July 2015, it still took place at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam (#1).
Because of our positive experiences at this first occasion it became the start of a series of ParallelShows.
For that original Parallel Show in the art fair of 2015 we had a clear idea how to approach. We would all design a personal concept for one chosen gallery booth. In this gallery booth we would perform this work (without invitation or anouncement) in front of the group, as a practical instruction to all participants. After that we would all carry out each others works successively in the chosen gallery booths, thus creating a repetitive line of performances.
Of course this original concept was discussed again in this new occasion. The group was slightly different now. Peter was not joining us and Andrew and Daniela were now part of it.
Not all of us were convinced about the original framework so we first visited the shows individually before we decided how to proceed. We would meet again for lunch at 01.30.
At the lunch meeting, we concluded not to use the original framework. We all had our own clear ideas on what to do. We discussed the plans and decided what to perform, individually and together, and in what order. After lunch we returned to the show together.
Finally it turned out to be a mix of solo works and groupworks in a somewhat chaotic improvised setting, probably the clearest representation of the dynamics of this type of art show.
On Sunday 17 January 2016, at 10.00 AM we met at the entrance of the museum, Lisa, Malou, Andrew and myself. After a mutual introduction, some of us did not meet before, we went up the stairs to the members club. We had a coffee and discussed the basic conditions: the concept of theparallelshow, the open expectations and the absence of rules. We agreed to meet again at the same place at 12.30 for lunch and individually left to visit the exhibitions.
The installation of Susan Philipsz: War Damaged Musical Instruments in the Duveen galleries, dominated every other exhibition in the museum. The sounds could be heard everywhere.
Andrew in the Duveen Galleries
We all started our explorations in this main hall. After that everyone focussed on the exhibitions that personally seemed to be the most appealing, so we all had very different experiences.
During lunch in the Members Room we discussed possibilities and plans. We talked about a possible groupwork in the installation of Susan Philipsz but nothing practical came out of that. The military aura of the work was just too big, too overwhelming. So we decided to follow our personal preferences. Before we left Malou handed us some of her stickers of the Dutch National Heritage Sign, to give away when possible.
We spread over various exhibitions and followed our impulses.
Dates are inscribed into the building itself, a chronological index. We navigated and rendezvoused using chronological markers rather than cartographic ones. (Andrew).
We communicated by texting the years of the locations: I am in 1900, are you still in 1960?.
Around 17.00 we gathered in the basement cafe for a last beer and a concluding conversation.
At closingtime we left the building.
The second ParallelShow took place in the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands. The choice of location might be a bit unexpected because it is not an art place. It is a museum for visual encounters with life in all sorts and that in itself seemed a very good reason to choose it for the ParallelShow. Another new aspect was the number of participating artists. We were six: Peter Baren, Jeroen Bouweriks, Malou van Doormaal, Mr and Mrs Gray and Frans van Lent.
We walked together in a line through the corridor, from the central hall towards the exhibition building. During this walk we immitated the (electronic) bird-whistling coming out of the loudspeakers above us.
We then started to explore the museum individually. After 90 minutes we gathered in the restaurant and discussed the possibilities. Many ideas came up, some were chosen to work out.
There was a tendency of (some) parents to withdraw into a state of lethargy in the background while their children were enjoying the attractions. By doing that they seemed to more or less approach the condition of the stuffed animals. It created a certain mirroring and we decided we could join them in doing that.
Another concept was the devise of a lost child. Malou made up a 5-year old girl called Malina. ‘Malina wears blue jeans and a yellow t-shirt, applicated with a white elephant. She has long brown hair’. Malou reported the missing girl, together with Jeroen, to the staff of the museum, and by doing that she created an official search for this unknown living creature in the museum. This activity related to the adventurous searches organised to entertain the visiting children.
We started to (individually) visit the shows at the Kunsthal. That took about 90 minutes. After that we gathered at the restaurant and discussed the experiences and possibilities. Every one of us came up with a personal concept and all were meant to be carried out by all three of us (as a group or seperately).
Not one of the concepts did actually respond to any aspect of the visited shows. They were related to the architectural qualities of the building, and mainly to a certain aspect of the building: the doors. We were not sure what this actually meant.
One of the possibilities is that doors are related to a performative aspect of a building: the moving around. And moving around in spaces was what we were doing and what we are basically interested in. It could also mean that we distanced ourself from the exhibitions. The show Do-it is mainly about performing of course, but this particular show was probably not the best presentation of Obrist’s concept. And maybe it just came too close and we could not distinguish ourselves enough from the work, needed to do this more radically by simply ignoring it.
The three different concepts focussed on doors as objects in their physical potentiality of letting people pass (Ieke Trinks), on the internal structure of the building in it’s relation to human displacement (Ienke Kastelein), and on the sliding doors as the location for approaching, encountering and passing others. Sliding doors play their own interactive role in this, seem to be the only part of the building that is aware of, and mechanically responds to it’s users. (Frans van Lent)
Sliding Door A descending staircase ending in a sliding door. Behind the sliding door an exhibition space.
The first person goes down.
The sliding door opens, the person stops,
The door closes, the person turns around and goes up again.
This repeats a number of times till the person decides it is enough.
The person then walks on through the opened door.
(his place at the staircase will now be taken by a second person).
After going through the opened door the person walks a number of steps into the space.
The person then turns around and walks back towards the sliding door.
When it opens the person stops.
The door closes, the person walks backwards away from the door.
When the door opens the person stops again.
The door closes, the person starts walking forward towards the door.
This repeats a number of times till the person decides it is enough.
He leaves the scene. The second person now walks in through the opened door…
The only interactive moving part in the architecture is the sliding door. It opens and it closes when somebody approaches. The performer mirrors this action by walking forward and backward in response to the movements of the door and by that (indirectly) in response to the movements of the second performer and to other people entering or leaving the exhibition.