#7: 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.


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)

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.


#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.

karinabeumer parallelshow 05 05062016

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.

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#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.


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.