Miniature logo
sitemap | contact

The present spectator - Jochem Naafs

For their "Theatreminiature" David Weber-Krebs and Alexander Schellow let the spectator sit alone in a theatre-space. The "other" i.e. the performer, is absent.

I sit alone in a room and look at a video-projection. Like a lonely movie spectator. I get conscious of myself; I look around and not only at the screen. There is text and there is image, but I need something more. I need communication, and I seek someone else. I once look behind me, my eyes search behind the cloth: there is only darkness. I miss pieces of text, I try to remember what I have read while I continue searching. My quest is rewarded. Suddenly a man appears. He seems to make a step in front and I see him. He had been there all the time, perhaps he could see me but I couldn't see him. Now I see him well and I perceive him. His presence feels good. He does nothing, he says nothing. But I'm no more alone, I can again look quietly at the pictures, read the texts. From time to time my observation oscillates in between him and the screen, but I do not anymore make pressure on me. I don`t need to think of myself: there is someone else. I experience the presence of a performer.

Jochem Naafs, The present performer, in blog playful performance, 2006

Do I enter a building? - Marga van Mechelen

Do I enter a building or an institution? Both I think. I got to know it better in the last ten years or so, in many ways. I excavated the archive for my research on De Appel in the first period, 1975-1983. I had several meetings at the offices, I attended the opening of many exhibitions or just visited the shows in a mostly empty space. I learned to know the backside of the exhibitions spaces. And so we, my guide of DAS ARTS and I started our tour through the building. We meandered through it, from below with the elevator to above, and from there to the first floor again and by way of a different routing again up to the second floor and back to the first, the offices. And then we arrived in an almost empty space, with only a beamer and a screen. We said goodbye to each other. We had talked quite a bit about how we had experienced the spaces and about my connection to De Appel and the people I know of DAS ARTS . The rooms had still the character of exhibition spaces but with details that should not be seen in the normal circumstances when they were still on duty. "They" had left it but not as a ruin. They could come back and start all over again. Was it really the last time I was in this building? I have no particular affinity with it, as I had with the building at the Brouwersgracht. One does not suppose to have it with a with cube. It is only there for the art works, to let the works look as happy as can be. The people, curators, assistants, the technical staff, were most of the time behind closed doors, though I was there often when they were rebuilding the spaces for the next exhibition. Only that already makes a difference, compared with the first location at the Brouwersgracht. But nevertheless it had been more lively since the arrival of Ann than it had ever been before.

Now I was alone and I start reading 'the voice': And? Was it nice? What? The walk? That was not all. I was brought back to the history of the building. Remarkable that these artists who had invited be for this 'performance' were interested in the history of the building as well as one of the curator classes in the past few years. It had been a bank, owned by a Jewish family. Did I know this history already? Certainly some parts of it. But I had never realized the connection with the Goldstikker family and the art collection of this family. Of course I had followed all the items about this affaire in Dutch newspapers or on television. Not particularly because I was so much interested in this family or its paintings, but because a friend of my was fighting for ages for the paintings and drawings of her grandfather, Mr. Koenigs. So I was more interested in the fate of the grandchildren and the collections they wanted to get back in one way or the other than it the art works themselves. I was intrigued by the images on the screen that first looked like images from an air craft but later appeared to be images of a mountain top. You know that there is something behind that grayness but what?

And then it was time to go. Of course I could have walked through the building again but a friend was waiting, so I took the stairs that like a screwdriver in a castle or tower brought me back to the exit. The artists were waiting for me. We talked a bit. I knew that I was the first participant, but I had not realized until then that my performance would differ from the next one. They were still working on it. They asked me questions and I asked my questions.

I was happy that I could have participated. So goodbye Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, number 10!

Marga van Mechelen, published in: HTV DE IJSBERG, issue DC2009/Jan2010, Leftovers Magazin

The missed date - Pieter T'Jonck

In the end I was the last person to participate in Een voorspel. Originally I was supposed to attend the performance last Friday, but for one reason or another I had missed the appointment. I landed on the highest floor of the OBA (Openbare Bibliotheek van Amsterdam) building without having met my contact person on the ground floor. I saw the woman who was supposed to see me only 15 minutes later when I was back down, empty-handed. But it was already time for the next participant, and I could not wait for another session that day, as I had to go to Brussels. Appointments that go wrong… Funnily enough, this is one of the key features of the performance.

However, last Sunday I was again in Amsterdam. After a few phone calls there seemed to be a slot for me. The last one, by the way. After being welcomed on the ground floor, I was thus a bit nervous as I took the lift to the restaurant at the top of OBA. In fact, it had been there, where everything went wrong the last time. I feared that this might happen again. I saw nobody doing anything that could look at all like a performance. People sitting at tables, plenty of people on the terrace - they all looked so…ordinary. A waitress led me to a chair next to a window with a view to of the Ij river below; she placed a GSM in my hands. An old one with the wrong date, i.e. a day in 2008. And then nothing happened for a while. Time for me to worry whether something had gone wrong again or whether I could cope with this old model of NOKIA, and thereafter to worry how neurotic my reactions were, now and again.
But I had also time to consider the strategy of the performance. Perhaps this time it was part of the strategy. Perhaps the artists wanted me to be here, but what did they want me to see, to think, to be aware of? One thing was certain: as soon as I entered the restaurant, I didn't know what to look for or what would happen. So I began to look at the room and the people in another, almost paranoid way. I was convinced that something would emerge, something different and unusual that would change the slight chaos that usually prevails among people in a café: they are busy in their own world, their thoughts, their intents, their ambitions. But nothing happened.
In hindsight, this was a quite significant moment. Not only because it reminded me of how much our view is driven by presumptions and expectations. A deadly dull place like a café is full of details, of people and of occurrences that you do not see, and yet very quickly, you form in your mind a general idea of it all and therefore you can easily cope with the situation. In this case, I entered with the firm conviction that something was there that did not meet my expectations and preconceived opinion. But quickly it turned out to be uncertain what the thing, or the situation, or the proposal or whatever else at hand, could be. As a guess: maybe the artists wanted me to see what happened, to look at the occurrences within, without putting everything into specific drawers. Maybe I was supposed to sit here for half an hour and to look at the life in the café. Maybe this was in fact part of the performance. It's like how John Cage lets you listen to a sound during 30 seconds, wherever it comes from.
The absence of something "special" had a peculiar side-effect. You can speculate as much as you want, you can fly ahead with your thoughts, and it doesn't help you: when "nothing" happens you feel excluded from what you fail to see around you. You are left alone with your longing for…what indeed? An experience, an encounter, a moment when you can trust in things?
The more you look around, the more you feel that the surrounding people look at you. How do the others see a man who looks around, who strolls aimlessly to and fro, who stares at people he doesn't know, as if he expected something else to happen? This awareness throws you back to yourself.
The view over the Ij river gained another significance. From the top floor of the highly sophisticated house blocks along the Oosterdokkade, you have a tremendous view over old Amsterdam. Over the town as an endless amass of houses, warehouses and cottages, settled along the "grachten," here and there a church and hardly any stately homes. Despite their various forms, these buildings have a certain character; they have a tale to tell. How could it be that the chaotic features of the market, mixed with, or the expression of, the protestant ethos was able to establish a specific order and build a town that is one of the most beautiful and splendid places in Europe? Effortless. It seems to be an old tale from bygone times. This is shown by the development of the old port, the real source of the town's wealth. During the last decades, and at a rapid pace, a new residential neighborhood had been built with ingenious living quarters. But how tedious and weak is - despite their formal prolificacy and the prestigious totems such as OBA - their contrast to the old town! And still, the old tale persists. Like a Dickens novel set against the background of an entire town, which tempts and provokes you and wants you to choose a place for you, to become outright infatuated with the town. I did the latter.
Then my cell phone rang. A woman. But one who usurped my name at once: "Are you Pieter T'Jonck? This is Pieter." Whether I could see her? This was quickly done. She was waving a stick out of a window when I spotted her. A large house at a great distance, on the other side of the Ij river. There she was and there she wanted me to come. The house of a patrician, so to speak, with a stately cornice and three rows of four high windows each. With a peculiar detail: the house front was painted light yellow. Funny. This color in a town where it had always been "de rigueur" to conceal power and wealth behind joyless house fronts with bricks painted in black. With such a yellow color you should not attract attention in the golden age! Incidentally, the lady sent me in the wrong direction to reach her. "Go to the left, then along NEMO and up Prins Hendrikkade." To the right and over the bridge next to the floating Chinese restaurant would have been quicker and easier to get there. Thus, she wanted me to see or to experience something.
For example, how it felt to look no longer at the scenery of the port but simply to walk on the ground. Over a rather small bridge I crossed the water of the Oosterdockskade towards the entrance of the turned-around, copper-green cone of NEMO. Despite its massive dimensions, the building seemed unimpressive. Maybe because the entrance differed little from the glass fronts of an office block. From below I couldn't see the sloping terrace on top of the building designed by Renzo Piano, but I knew that it was there. The NEMO was closed, but I had an appointment. Yet again, the visit to NEMO, planned long ago, could not happen. What I wasn't aware of was that this building was positioned on top of the Ij tunnel. While I continued to walk along the pier of the Oosterdok towards Prins Hendrikkade, I only looked at the boats that were anchored to my right. I paid no attention to the speedway to my left. It was only later, when I repeated my tour virtually on Google maps, that I became aware of the tunnel here, through which the Ij river flows. Maybe because I couldn't take that tunnel and thus it was not part of my mental map of Amsterdam? It is crazy how you often see only the things that you know of.
On Prins Hendrikskade, however, there was nothing left to be looked at. By foot you are not allowed to cross the road, so you must walk up to the end, to the other bridge. But I didn't feel like it. So I had to look carefully left and right if I wanted to safely reach the yellow house on the other side. In fact this was not the moment to look around quietly, and I was certainly not the only one to cross the road in this way. The woman on the phone kept chatting while I approached swiftly. This was conceptually an important moment. Since she used my name, she was definitely my "Doppelgänger." But it was a poor fit. My partner differed so much from me that it did not feel as if I were hearing an alter ego, a shadow-self, with all their unsuitable implications. It is unpleasant, even frightening, to "encounter oneself." A picture of one's own face or a soundtrack of one's own voice can meet with one's forceful opposition. But here I didn't care. Or perhaps I did. Why did I feel so little like participating in this game of speaking with somebody who pretends to be me, although she was obviously somebody else? Maybe I had to follow along; maybe this was the beginning of a handover with my "namesake" or alter ego. Nevertheless, I preferred to be left alone with my view over the port and with my thoughts. Ports make me restless and nervous, but in a way which needs speed, which makes me eager to know how things work, what the logic is of all these unusual activities. I like losing myself in these thoughts. To go astray with pleasure. It has always been like this, since I roamed the port of Oostende as a child. There is no place for talking.
Finally I reached the yellow house. The door was wide open. If it was impressive from the outside, the inside seemed a few measures larger than the façade had indicated with its severe order of windows that structured the wall. (With houses, there always exists in our perception more inside than outside). To the left, next to the entrance stairs: a door upon which was hastily written in black, "this way up." A service staircase I suppose, as it made two steep quarter turns. This was not a staircase that you could take respectably, but one where you rushed up and down. Still, perhaps this was the sort of stairs that was customary for the old times in this town? Without much pretention and ado? My guide took leave of me here. At the top of the staircase I had to enter a door, which immediately closed behind me.
The contrast to everything that had happened before could not have been greater. The room was pitch dark. At first I saw nothing at all. Then somewhere very far and high up, a faint bulb flickered. The room was probably huge, much larger than I could have imagined upon entering the building. As if the building would grow, the deeper you penetrated it. (Again, this was a reference to our human perception.) The closer I came to the light, the more tangible was the surrounding darkness, such as a thick, dark curtain that receded somewhere a few meters in front of me. The room was not only inscrutable, but amazingly quiet. So quiet that I almost heard myself thinking. After my earlier, sensory and violent tour from the OBA, along NEMO and the piers up to this house I suddenly experienced almost complete sensory deprivation. My thoughts sped on. Thoughts behave obviously in this way from time to time.
Thus, an earlier feeling returned in all its intensity. As my thoughts could not grasp what I wanted to see, they created a latent sensation of radical loneliness. Here, the distance between me and the little world around me could not be ignored. To my mind, this was the most meaningful moment of the performance. The little events which followed were a mere consequence of it.
My eyes had just enough time to adapt to the twilight when they became aware of two objects: two black boxes, which appeared nearby in the tiny glimmer of the bulb. Going closer, I saw that they were neatly placed on the two corners of a Persian carpet, and that a faint sound of voices came from them. I bent down between the two boxes and looked at the dark firmament above. First there was a voice to my right. A woman. She left me with the boring sensation that overcomes you when you think you have noticed somebody but you can't place him. Then there came a tale from the left. Also a female voice. And a tale of an utter desperation that suddenly overwhelms you. She told me how she stood waiting for someone, somewhere in a public place, and that she didn't know how to act when her friend didn't show up. How she feared to reveal her discomfort to the outside world. How as an ultimate calamity she let her bag fall over into the street. She ended up with a disheartened question as to why she stood there near the pole.
After this, everything was quiet and dark. As the lights gradually brightened I saw that the room was very large indeed: it was as large as the front of the house, and very high with wooden roof beams across the ceiling. At that moment I received an SMS: "It was a pleasure meeting you." Signed: Pieter. As if a meeting had taken place with the usual courtesy statements, advices and casual comments.
But this was exactly the subject. You can well stay in the middle of hundreds of people, in a big town with fantastic buildings, but you are radically alone with your thoughts. There is no straight link to the world around you. It is your thoughts that form a kind of "high resolution" picture which fits with your own preconceived pattern. In fact, the title of the performance tells us everything. It was a "voorspel," an introduction, at least during the whole tour from OBA to the house over here. And recollections: my own afterglow of the tour - what I felt there and how my feelings inadvertently mixed up with older memories - or the tales of the women I heard in the dark room. But what happened in the margin, the "real occurrences" - when did they occur? Or are they without importance? Do you always meet yourself by chance, as suggested by the phone call with your namesake?

Pieter T'Jonck, august 2010.

The geometry of interdisciplinarity - Vera Tollmann

"The spectator is an element of the 'machine'", says Alexander Schellow with respect to the six theater-miniatures in which, in collaboration with David Weber-Krebs, he has tied together  the genres  of film, theatre and performance. Behind the metaphor of "machine" we find in the six miniatures of about ten minutes each a computer-operated structure of videos, light, sound and two performers.  Each visitor enters the room alone to look at a chosen miniature.

This happened in the specifically prepared Virchowsaal of the Sophiensäle in Berlin. Schellow and Weber-Krebs are both well known for their comprehensive approach of media. Here, they have used the existing and used floor panels to build a temporary stage structure with three walls and a screen, and have thereby created a minimalistic performance device. The visitor's chair was oriented towards the stage. The producers have invited six authors who normally write academic texts, screen and theatre plays or prose, to compose a script of ten minutes each which could be played for only one spectator in the so arranged spatial setting. In the so-called main film, the respective core piece of the miniatures, the texts are shown at the lower side of a single, hardly readable grey picture. They feature thoughts, invectives, dialogues which are presented to the spectator in the usual rhythm of sub-titles. They sometimes address him or her directly or give at least a clue for identification. Each module begins in the same way: a supporting film in the form of a drawn animation shows sequences of a wide old room which the film explores quasi with a searching eye. After some seconds only one recognizes what he sees: it is the Virchowsaal in which the theater-miniature is actually happening and which we have seen in semidarkness when shortly entering the room a moment before. With this superposition of the real and the medium-generated space the spectator experiences a back-coupling of his perception, which throws him back to himself and to his own capacity of short term recollection. Some of the six miniatures went beyond the defined stage-situation by broadening the geometry of interdisciplinarity into its surrounding with loudspeakers, lights and performers. By that the authors of the theater-miniatures were not interested in a comparing experience. The spectator could choose and see only one of them. While five out of six contributions tried to create a fictitious, a narrative situation, one followed the rules of enlightenment by revealing the stage props, the mirrors or a dripping water tap in a completely lit room. This module did without a main film instead of which an actor spoke a text, leading the spectator "behind the scenery". Each of the modules - the artists call them "incidents"- activates the attention of the spectator, sensitizes him for the conditions of subjective cognition, ties the real to the media-generated space and the spectating subject to the installation.

With their structurally elaborate setup where minimalistic means meet a multi-layer space, Schellow and Weber-Krebs implement an artistic course of action which the philosopher Gilles Deleuze has outlined it in his book "The Fold". He advises to settle in between two genres of art "to attain a unity of arts as 'performance', and to draw the spectator into this very 'performance'. In the architecture of baroque he discovers an" operative function" which creates and unfolds endless folds. These are antagonistic incidents, which annul the usual differentiation between figure and ground, thereby creating a "soft space". The baroque fold widens the perception of surface. Folds provided movement to the convention of central perspective and played with the blurrings of the human eye. For this geometric unsharpness the authors have found a medial platform: the grey pictures in the main film show mist, which is an established metaphor in the history of art and cinema. In the context of the theater-miniature mist is a surface of imagination for the reading spectator. The interaction of mist and text throws the spectator into the "soft space" and refers him back to himself and to his recollection.

Vera Tollmann, for "was verbindet uns", 2008

I remember the walk - Thomas Dieben

Hello David and Alexander,

I remember the walk very well. Here's a small reflection about it:

I have known the building pretty well, since as an architect I worked on the future location for Arts Centre the Appel together with Ann and Tony, trying to find a space fitting to their needs even better than the building has been doing for a long time. It has been a place full of memories for everybody there.

Seeing a building completely empty, stripped to its bare being of walls, floors and ceilings happens only on three occasions: 1)right after finishing construction 2)in between movements of users 3)in an architect's mind and drawings.

An architect's mind is a perverted one: we have a vocabulary of mass and void, of space, but our rigid designer's view do not allow those spaces to be used, altered or brought in disbalance. We prefer empty, finished space.  Seeing the building empty was a rare sense of resignation. Finally sensing what those architectural drawings were trying to represent.

During the walk the emptiness, which I first perceived as quiet, balanced, started showing all kinds of imperfections. Traces of the previous use, deterioration of an old building. It was like a beautiful old woman with wrinkles. It showed what the drawings have never been able to show: time, use, age.

The conversation with my host was a good conversation. We talked about places far away from Amsterdam, far away from the building. We talked about Argentina, a very good memory for me. The contradiction between getting closer to the here and now and talking about far and away was nice. The context of emptiness gives space for thought.

Alone with the video I actually wasn't really interested in the video. I rather would have been alone in silence in the building. The walk outside alone was the best way of saying goodbye.

Just some random thoughts, hopefully useful for your project,

An email from Thomas Dieben (04.05.2009)

Passive constructions - Franz Anton Cramer

Suddenness and shock, these were supposed to be the sailing elements of modern esthetic strategy.  With the academic rule-books becoming by and by out of use, elements such as the immediate impact, the "dent", the effect were coming more and more to the fore. Artistic positions were enhanced by their immediacy in the moment of perception rather than by the technical, compositional or meditative aspects of a work of art.

This is roughly true for any genre, but without doubt and in particular for the performing arts. The great experimental revues of the 20ies and of course the numerous variants of modern dance from Loïe Fuller and Isadora Duncan to Mary Wigman and Valeska Gert focused on the overwhelming immediacy of their artistic expressions. The stage was for them an appropriate place to visualize new strategies of presence, to show and put into their context bodies both in their intricate biological being and as cultural artifacts.

These issues are far from fully settled in contemporary art, but the esthetical patterns have changed in the meanwhile. They feature more variants, they transgress the borders of genre, and they surmount what is always virulent in vanguard and audacious forms:  self-criticism and the struggle with the own medium; instead, the modern patterns try to find new levels of construction.

In her recent essay on "Danse et philosophie. Une pensée en construction" (Paris: l'Harmattan 2007), Véronique Fabbri traces this kind of processes. She refers to Walter Benjamin's theory of languague ("Problem der Sprachsoziologie"). There as well as in his study on "Der Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels" ,  the subject is the continuous slipping-away  of substance in acts of "event" and "communication": "Construction and analysis shift the accent away from the event itself  to things which have vanished but however maintain a glimmer of their original significance" (Fabbri 2007, p. 43). Consequently, the correlation between 'sensual experience' and language remains undetermined (Benjamin discusses this above all as a problem of names): "the main problem is to see how reality is sensuously present in language" (Fabbri 2007, p. 49).

The constructive and in a way "auto-poietic" element in modern art is not only present in new materials or mindsets, for instance in architecture, but also in the way of thinking itself. The dynamics of negation and discontinuity which have essentially motivated modern trends, are hence getting a dialectically colored turn. Paul Klee writes in 1928: "Any denial and any negation have only a reason to be if they give the foil for the drawing of the vivid, of the positive" (cf. Paul Klee, "Exakter Versuch im Bereich der Kunst"; Zeitschrift für Gestaltung, Dessau 1928).

The vivid as a constructive element finds its place on the stage. The stage is the site of performative art where nothing comes into being unless it happens and unless it is created. Hence the stage is the location of the passive voice: the stage is enlivened, it is animated. It would however be strange to conceive theatre and the stage only as a "locus" of self-denial or insulation, where the active voice of representation is only possible via the passive voice of the performative. In that case the stage would become a place for the mere building of realities under certain rules.  And precisely these rules are under a constant scrutiny in the vanguard environment of  "heroic modern art". Everything surrenders to the suggestive effects of subdual, of poly-media and of overabundance, and self-outbidding becomes a program in itself.

These perfunctory comments may lead to a closer look at an experiment that goes in the opposite direction.

"Theaterminiatur" by David Weber-Krebs and Alexander Schellow avoids in two ways a surrender to the exaggerations of the prevailing art business: One the one hand, they employ a minimum of suggestive means, e.g. by  staging the performance for one spectator only; on the other hand, they succeed in allying the dimensions of image and of representation.

"Theaterminiatur" interweaves - constructs - a number of layers of performative art and thereby creates in a puzzling way an inchoate area for our associations and perceptions.  The different parts of the performance could be called "modules", as they are separate and self-supporting entities which refer to each other  both in substance and in style, but one does not need to know all of them. In these modules literally emerges an area of occurrence which expands into two directions: the constructed room of the stage - theatre as the setting for visibleness VISIBILITY ??- and the inner room of apperception which allows the interweaving of impressions and associations.

In turn, this aspect of self-assessment and self-positioning is again integrated into the visible part of the performance. The stage for the seven modules is basically identical. Its central element is a monitor on which video sequences are projected. The central feature of the different modules is text, created by writers coming from various backgrounds (mystery writing, script, theatre, sociology). Their messages, whether spoken or written, find therefore easily their way into the centre of the visible. By the same token, the messages become a sensuous part of the performance's momentum. It is with its senses that the creative situation of the performance adopts the reality of the text - in other words, "reality appears sensuously present in the text".

As is the case with any media-based content, these video parts tie the attention up in a peculiar way. Particularly in the form of tapes or text sequences, our in-born cultural constraint to read gives us an additional impetus. In one case, this ambivalence between medial captivation and the free alertness of mind is itself the topic of the module. The author has "minuted" her sublimated impression of what happened, and this record becomes in turn the subject of her Miniature.

"Theaterminiatur" consists, as all other modular systems, essentially of change, adaptation and revisal. The configuration of the different modules, their number, their sequence and their impact do not follow a particular or pre-established code, but are basically coincidental. Each spectator chooses the module he wants to see and, tellingly, he makes his choice based on the name of the respective author. The entire project is again, grammatically speaking, in the passive voice and in the reflexive form, since the user decides in which way the given material is carried out, expresses itself, comes into being.

Inbuilt in this overall appearance, there are however a number of complex and pre-meditated elements of concealment, of visualisation, and of appeals to the senses. The video sequences have sometimes a milky or nebulous color, others feature murmuring and observative sounds; they are often at the limit of visual perception. The stage as a parameter  of action and of objects is diluted and becomes an area which could be interpreted both in a graphical and in a theatrical way.

The setting of the stage is rather unattractive for the senses:  an austere and almost dark room, a chair facing a diagonally fixed, half open box. It is made of flooring devices and gives the impression of an esthetic corrugation, of a "constructive warp". The spectator's chair is placed on the "dance floor" and the rest of the ground is covered with rough screed. In this austere environment, the reception is friendly but matter-of-fact.  The spectator receives a few instructions: e.g. that he may well rise from his chair and walk around. Then the elements of the module are presented at random: sounds, background noises, scarce scenic actions or rather: incidents. All this is strikingly impalpable, fading-out, nearly whispering. Even when human figures appear, this happens at the limit of hallucination, of visual illusion, of make-believe. This composition of sensuous elements and un-sensuous representation can give no guarantee for the intrinsic reality of what presents itself with a generous gesture as "Miniatur". But despite all this minimalism and reduction there is virtually always somebody around. Not so much the performers who with minimal actions open "side-shows", e.g. by leading one's eyes with a mirror or by leaving the room ostentatiously. Human presence is rather created by the act of writing conveyed to, and the way of positioning the pictures on, the screen.  The monitor becomes the real point of attention where the senses might converge at any moment.

Sometimes one would only perceive some clicking noises, produced by the amplified sound of water-drops from a tap which has been activated by a computer. These noises appear playful and incidental, as do the images of mist which sometimes foreshadow a landscape, sometimes remain plain grey. In between there are words, presented partly on a conveyor or in sub-titles, partly as a text-block with - for the spectator - the mandate to read even if the text runs too fast. The act of reading, the creation of significance in the gesture of reading become a mere apperception among others.

"Theaterminiatur" is the construction of a room for sensuous transfers, offering a great number of possibilities create the impression of a meaning, of obviousness, even of immediacy by artfully interweaving the precious.

Art, in particular performing art, comes as the creation of reality via the artificial. The Performative is the appearance of the sensual as something inchoate, find its form only in percpetive acts. The form may be pre-conceived, but avoids any exaggeration or rhetoric.

The absence of rhetorics and actionism, which leads to a space open for creative encounters, is probably the most touching feature of this project which interweaves layers of surface, volume and artistic performance under the auspices of the post-actional art.

Franz Anton Cramer, 2009

The configuration of space - Volker Pantenburg

The configuration of space, text and film follows a rigid scaling. The most rigid aspect of the performance, however, is the decision to conceive the installation for a single spectator only. Each quarter of an hour he or she is ushered by a staff member into a large, dark space and to a chair in its center. Usually one associates the model “installation” with the customary museum and gallery visitors who wander somewhat aimlessly through the exhibition rooms. Here, on the contrary, you are confronted with an almost uncanny intimacy. The attention of the spectator is in no way diverted, as he finds several mechanisms focused on him. He sits in the midst of an uneasy feeling of being “intended.”

In front of the chair is a stage, and above the stage: a screen. On the screen an animation film is projected, followed by and then in the main film: mist. And within the mist: a text.

I do not want to describe the work in detail here, but there are small and decisive moments, which in one way or another have to do with bodies and with surprise, which I can but clumsily depict. I would rather describe the basic structure and identify it as a possibility to allow various forms of art to interact, a possibility that differs from the principle of blending or mingling that one often finds in interactions between the arts. My brief summary already indicates that here the genres of film, theater and literature are clearly set apart and yet interleave like Russian [“matrioshka”] dolls. What makes this overlapping and careful framing oscillate in an amazing way is the position of the spectator. Although during the ten minutes that you’re sitting on your chair you can hardly articulate this feeling, it seems to me that there is a continuous fluctuation, where perception shifts from the theatergoer to the film spectator to the reader.

Volker Pantenburg in LICHTUNGEN, Zeitschrift für Literatur, Kunst und Zeitkritik – 111/CCVIII/2007.

Just quick reply - Arnoud Holleman

Hey David and Alexander,

Just a quick reply on your request to write something about the miniature. I will, although with a touch of ambivalence. I have very much enjoyed the talk and tour and video installation, and it stayed with me for a long time. But most of all, I think, it was because of the invisibility and intimacy of the project, which was so well imbedded within the melancholic context of a deserted building. This is what gave me a very genuine, direct, one on one experience. So, out of respect for you and the project I will write about it, but not without thinking that this will not transcend the actual happening and eventually might '''harm''' the powerful paradox of creating an 'invisible' event.

So, keep me updated about dates etc. Can I write in Dutch and have it translated? And practically, as I am a slow writer who needs time and concentration, it would be nice if there was something in return, either in budget or in an exchange dinner or so. When I had had my show in De Appel last year, we had a round up dinner with all people involved and that worked wonderful.


An email from Arnoud Hollemann (04.05.2009).