Malleability Revisited – the Expodium Empty Holes Safari

Expodium Empty Holes Safari  last saturday. Theme of the program that sparked the tour is ‘Malleability Revisited – Beyond the Interstitial Experience’. Interstitial as in: interstitial tissue, situated between the cells of a structure or part. Expodium investigating the ‘Terrain Vague’, the sort of terrain that is  between former and future destination, the sort of terrain  that makes cities so interesting.
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Picture above is taken inside one of the Extremely Long Limousines Expodium laid on. It was dark in there, but had lots of sparkle. Hiring them for us was an intervention by Maze de Boer, who was inspired to transport us around Utrecht in style. This, in effect,  made us all into actors in his ‘presidential cortege’ play.

Maze had made me  an actor once before. He had a magician show his tricks at an earlier Expodium workshop, making us participants  into actors acting ‘the public’. Then, no chance to opt-out. This time I liked his intervention better. One can decide to go along (ride in the cortege) or ‘opt-out’ (go home), which is the sort of room to maneuvre that I like to have.

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First stop of the cortege was Joshua Thies, who laid on an event. Suffice it to say that it was truly ‘vague’.

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On to Isa Andreu’s intervention, a more interesting one as far as I am concerned. Using texts beamered onto the hard shoulder of a canal around what looked like a building site, she presented a beautiful narrative mixing past with present and future. She also questioned the legitimacy of her own artwork’s situatedness:  maybe art is mis-used to excuse something inexcusable here. Quote from the handout: “She attempts to develop a research around [those] possibilities of narratives, for mixing research and an observation of the city with a fictionalized imaginary narrative.”  Thanks to this narrative I am now stuck with the question of  ‘was there ever a wood here?   The embarrassing thirst of an exact mind for knowledge …..

100_9051And on to Christina Bruckmeier’s work. I posted about her in an earlier blog, see ‘find a legend for a girl’ The work she presented last saturday has the same poetic qualities as the work I saw earlier. I like her visual language, very un-dramatic but very effective. Unfortunately, the work being shown in a street setting – you see her film projected in the windows of a ground-floor house near Utrecht Central Station –  did not connect. Her narrative does not link to the house in which windows it was shown or to the city environment of that house. Better to show this inside somewhere, it’s such a small – but beautiful – gesture.

100_9060Last – but, in this case, not least – the intervention of Nikos Doulos. He had a mysterious and slightly threatening tour guide direct us to a vague terrain behind a row of old houses. The moment  the work really clicked for me was when the tour guide – I expected her to be with the group – suddenly appeared at the other side of the terrain, standing alone with her umbrella in a pool of light from a lonely lamppost. With great presence and timing she stood there, then crossed the terrain click-clacking her heels on the asphalt. The rest of the performance had less power, felt like an unnecessary embellishment on top of something solid.

All in all –  some exiting moments  in the black holes of Utrecht. Missed something though:  context, a bridge between the works, a meta-narrative? Something to embed these individual artworks into the fabric of the city of Utrecht.

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