recensie | artikel | essay


‘I’m not crazy, my reality is just different than yours’, zomercultuurtip voor The Makeable Mind – Noordelicht International Photo Festival in Groningen. (AUG)

‘Let’s go: Into Nature’, zomercultuurtip voor Drentse kunstexpeditie Into Nature. (AUG)

‘What makes a good conversation?’, an essayistic reflection on the work of Roman Tkachenko as artist in residency for the project SPATIAL DISRUPTIONS at SIGN, Groningen. Read at blog@Sign or scroll down. (AUG)

‘Het einde is nabij, schaam u diep’, a reflection/report of the work of Tudor Ulrich and Mischa Lind as artists in residency for the projects SPATIAL DISRUPTIONS at SIGN, Groningen. Read at blog@Sign or scroll down. (AUG)

‘Algorithmic Materialism: Roman Tkachenko fumbles with the future of Suikerterrein’, reflection on the work of Roman Tkachenko as artists in residency for the project SPATIAL DISRUPTIONS at SIGN, Groningen. Read at blog@Sign or scroll down. (JUL)

‘Talk of the town: Het onaffe verhaal’, korte reflectie op de expo Nat Karton van Bert Scholtens bij presentatieinstelling Het Resort waar ik een middag de host was. (MEI)

‘Full interview with Van Berckel and Herenda about their performance ALL THAT FOLLOWS. A Symphony’ (MRT)

‘A performance that feels like a hug’, fragments of an interview with Mart van Berckel and Angela Herenda about their performance All that follows. A symphony for OPEN NITES. (FEBR)

‘De ruimte tussen jou en mij: In gesprek met SIGN en de kunstenaars van PROPS, artikel waarvoor ik de directie van SIGN Groningen en de exposerende kunstenaars interviewde over het maakproces en de presentatie van werk in relatie tot Covid-19. (FEBR)

‘In de categorie rennen of reserveren: Beelden lezen’, abstract van de beeldboeken Cicade (Tan) en Zwerveling (Van Den Ende) in een gedicht en digitale collage. (FEBR)

‘Thuiskijktip: De Zaak Shell | De Correspondent’, preview met fragmenten uit de voorstelling. (JAN)

‘Maartjes drie van 2020. Voor de worriers en de warriors’, terugblik op drie ecokunstprojecten van vorig jaar: Zwemlessen voor later (poëzie), IMPAKT 2020: ZERO FOOTPRINT (online festival) en Voorland Groningen, wandelingen door het Antropoceen (podcastwandeling). (JAN)

‘In de bres op de bank: Feminisme’, artikel over Wie is er bang voor Simone de Beauvoir? Over feminisme, existentialisme, god, liefde en seks en Feminisme voor de 99%. (JAN)


What makes a good conversation?
Maartje Terpstra | 12-08-2021 | SIGN galery

I spoke with Roman again and it was a very nice conversation. We philosophized about land and earth and ownership, we talked about regulations and temporary freedom, I recognized his struggle of finding form in multiplicity, he introduced me to his great deal of theoretical and artistic inspirations and I made, as I cannot control myself, unasked puns of serious stuff. I will not tell you what Roman told me. I will not invite you to his thinking process or repeat my joke. Today is about form.
The lines I write will be complementary to my previous piece on the more theoretical considerations in his work. Pointing towards an algorithmic method of positioning himself as a mediating analyst at Het Suikerterrein and among its users, I rounded off my reflection with the social turn in this work. And that’s where we are.

This is where we are now. What does that mean?

Relational aesthetics, coined by art critic and curator Bourriaud in the 1990-ies, helps us understand what art’s got to do in creating conversation. The artist invites social reality to reveal itself through the material production of a situation (= this is where we are now). In my previous report on Romans activities as residence at SIGN I defined him as a ‘mediating analyst’. Let us now replace that with dramaturg. Although dramaturgs have diverse roles within different groups there are common denominators. With communicative sensitivity and sharpness the dramaturg contributes to the efficacy of the work. In the wideness and vastness of the artistic process that involves so many perspectives and art forms the dramaturg needs to be aware of the intentions of the sender and the character of the receiver. It is about the efficiency of the form of the matter.

Romans work is about organizing relations in many senses: to instigate, facilitate and to structure. It’s quite the challenge for an individual artist to be so deep in matter and form. Relationality relieves the pressure of delimiting because as an artistic methodology and genre it has the advantages of fluidity. Matter is form, process is product, vice versa and so on. This is why this piece of writing is obviously not only about form.

What makes a good conversation?

A group of people stand on a small piece of grass framed by blackberry bushes. Between them, on the ground, three times a square meter is disturbed. One square has been dug out 30 cm deep, the removed layer of grass is heightened on a pallet next to it, the third square is just weeded. They seem good-humored and expectant. They wait. Somebody gets an intuition…

Somebody: ‘Is this an intervention?’

All others are triggered and they answer simultaneously.

Others: ‘Well, but whose is it?!’

Algorithmic Materialism: Roman Tkachenko fumbles with the future of Suikerterrein
Maartje Terpstra | 30-07-2021 | SIGN Galery

This wednesday I drank a cup of coffee with Roman Tkachenko in his tiny house at the Suikerterrein. He is one of the seven residents working on the project Spatial Disruptions. Visual artist with an expertise in architectural design, he has a fascination for future functions of buildings and areas; roams archives to analyse architectural pasts; is extremely aware of the specific time and place in which he resides. Roman shows me he is currently submerged in the data he collects, and collects, and collects… The extended map on his laptop is growing into a grant network of artistic research. Different levels touch and blurr. The question hovering above and beyond his adventures of the last days: ‘Who are the unseen in planning the future of ‘Het Suikerterrein’.

The multi-layered approach of the artist may be brought back to quite a familiar line of criticism: historical materialism. Het Suikerterrein is inhabited by educational institutes, businesses, event organisations, short stayers, catering, creatives and more. The division and occupation of this ‘chunk of city’, in Romans terms, is not evenly arranged. This materialist development started when surplus surfaces could be sublet by their owners. The price of the land rose higher. Territorial expansion led to growing differentiation between “have-lots” and “have-less”. One can berate this inequality but also go a step further. Should only the people present have a say in the distribution of this big chunk of Groningen, the artist is wondering. Thinking about the have-nots he has set his mind on the homeless people of Groningen. Shouldn’t they have a say in the gentrification of city chucks?

Somewhere there are people drawing out the gentrification of the amazing piece of urban-rural anyland that is Het Suikerterrein. At this very moment! The artist feels the urgency of his presence. By this residency arranged by Sign, he has got the opportunity to dive into the situation and potentiality of this location. The wry thing is, we ponder upon in our conversation, that his presence here is temporary. He is here now with but little time. Could a ‘spatial disruption’ really make a difference or is he part of a ‘cultural hub’, a notion that nauseates him? Community art is in effect often a cheap and superficial softening of a problematic situation, and solutions to societal issues should come from systemic change. It is not Romans ambition to do a mere passing through.

From his earlier work Roman has experience with translating data of past gentrification projects into prognoses for obsolete architectural bodies (Neighbours of Zero). He is now putting himself in the mix. An analyst, a translator of data. From a very social approach Roman is making lots of conversations in the neighbourhood. Within the more abstract historical approach he is redefining the material momentousness of human presence and relationships. As esthetics: what does it mean to see one another (also the tucked-away)?

Well, I’ll be here to see and I’ll let you know

Het einde is nabij, schaam u diep

05-08-2021 | Maartje Terpstra | SIGN Galery

‘This is the land of the frogs’, Tudor tells me. ‘And what is this place actually to you?’ I ask while we creep and crawl through bushes of nettle, thistle and blueberries. ‘Ah,’ – a playful smile and subtle shrug – ‘it’s just the place, for now’. Mischa Lind and Tudor Ulrich pull out their foldable spades and start pointing into the bunker, which looks like a tomb to me. Today the water and clay needs to be removed, they agree.

On a Sunday I tag along with their duo-project for Spatial Disruption. As usual I hurried to arrive early, just before noon. The pace was slow at De Loods. If I want some coffee? Yes, sure. Maybe some pumpkin soup? No, thanks (I came for adventures, not soup!). I settled myself on the wooden bench in the sun. Conversing with Mischa about the beauty of the rural and natural area just past Het Suikerterrein he goes right to the core telling me it’s a complex thing, intervening in a landscape. ‘You really force yourself and your will unto a certain place’ and he refers to their experience with digging holes and growing weeds. But now, here, there’s more to it, because ‘it is Suikerunie’s swansong’. Nothing that’s here now, such as the endangered ducks or bats, will stay…

The moment the train to Leeuwarden passes, a lets-go-vibe bubbles up. It looks as if the two have their own Thoreau-ian lifestyle here. Like a Suikerunie, or life at the loods the artists intuitively but consciously roam the area and find essential spots where their practical and philosophical perspectives connect. The way they speak to each other, quietly and in economically short sentences, is not secretive but rather musing. Deep into Het Suikerterrein, even beyond the map one can find online, they discovered ‘the place’: an overgrown pier in De Vloeivelden. The geocache tells us another adventurer was here the day before the artists arrived…

While I see the two artists digging, imagining, playing, I am amazed by my inability to define their doings as violent or caring. This is when I understand that this is exactly the artistic and theoretical nodal point of land art – the ambiguous human power to destruct and create simultaneously. ‘We never use power tools, everything must go by hand. And in a year they come with the big guns.’ Mischa puts the irony where it belongs.

I help them make a mud wall from the sludge they shovel out of the slurping ibbiss. When I take a step back, glancing at them just doing their thing I tell them what I see: ‘You are not building walls, you are giving this bunker arms! Maybe wings even!’. Two advertising aircrafts hover above us. It’s hard to read their banners but one seems clear:

The end is near. Be ashamed.


Werken aan een artistiek zelfbeeld van de Antropos. Van een complexe verwikkeling met het antropoceen naar de creatieve ontwikkeling van post-antropogeen denken, voelen en doen door middel van ecokunst

De klimaatcrisis stelt ons voor zulke ingewikkelde cognitieve, affectieve en praktische uitdagingen dat deze met hoofd, hart en hand benaderd moet worden. Deze masterscriptie bevat een studie naar de verbeelding van de klimaatcrisis en rol de van ‘de mens’ door te kijken naar de posities van kunstenaars ten opzichte van klimaatproblematiek. Dit onderzoek biedt ijkpunten voor een progressieve en creatieve ontwikkeling van het ecologisch discours voorbij het verhaal dat de term Antropoceen biedt. De focus ligt op de instrumentele waarde van ecokunst in het creëren van een post-antropogeen bewustzijn. Vanuit de metafoor van cognitieve gedragstherapie laat ik zien hoe we met behulp van ecokunst de kloof zouden kunnen overbruggen van filosofisch inzicht naar ethisch handelen. De kern bevat drie hoofdstukken met allen een uitgebreide theoretische uiteenzetting van ecofilosofische en kunsttheoretische literatuur en een casestudie. In deze hoofdstukken worden respectievelijk ‘kunst als onderzoeksmethode’, ‘kunst als zelfreflectie’ en ‘kunst als activisme’ behandeld met interviews met kunstenaars van De Ambassade van de Noordzee, Wellness Centre Future Proof en Fossil Free Culture NL. Van denken via voelen naar doen worden de besproken kunstwerken actiever, relationeler en interrelationeler.


Ecologie is ingewikkeld en daarmee uit?

In 2020 liep ik stage bij Mediamatic te Amsterdam. Ik bestierde de educatieafdeling. Daarnaast nam ik het initiatief om korte stukken te posten op de website, een educatieblog: In de serie ‘Ecologie is ingewikkeld en daarmee uit?’ schrijf ik blogs over uitdagende theorieën uit de ecofilosofie. Ik introduceer de ideeën, ter informatie of inspiratie. Daarna zullen er voorstellen opborrelen in de categorie infotainment: onwelgeformuleerde kunstzinnig georiënteerde oefeningen.

2019. ESSAYS

Direct Political Theatre: Extinction Rebellion and the Transnational Public Sphere

In this essay I regard the global ‘protestival’ in October 2019 of Extinction Rebellion (XR) as a form of direct theatre in the transnational public sphere. In this small study I focus on the relationship between the aesthetic means by which XR presents and represents its politics. In short, I want to deconstruct the relationship between entertainment and efficacy. The struggle and interplay between these two, as theorized by Richard Schechners study on theatre and ritual, is what constitutes performance. Based on Schechners theory, I argue that protests in general and XR’s specific can be studied as a ritualized performance: ‘They are ambivalent symbolic actions pointing at the real transactions even as they help people avoid too direct a confrontation with these events’. Protests have ideally a twofold effect: the transaction between antagonistic parties (citizen versus state) and the organization of individuals into a collective (the global public that demands climate justice). This essay shows the problems of these two ideals for XR.

Touch? Yes please: The Rules in a Game of Freedom

In this essay I will analyse the performative character Daan Roosegaarde’s solo exhibition in the Groninger Museum regarding the supposed transformation of the audience. Roosegaarde aims to transform the audience from mere museum visitors to what Erika Fisher-Lichte calls ‘co-subjects’. To deconstruct the relationship between artist, artwork and reception in Presence, I apply to it a form of critical thinking based on Bishop’s critique on the utopia of participatory art. Bishop notes that the artwork as an interactive situation is rather an ideal than an actualized reality. For a large institutional exhibition portrayed as interactive it is therefore pivotal to understand the possibilities and limitations regarding the participation. I use the theory of hauntology to analyse the overt but especially the covert presence of the artist in the exhibition, haunting the audience with neoliberal ethos and pedagogical nudges.


David Lynch: There is someone in my house @ Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht

My heart is already pounding the rhythm of pressured panic. There was an ample amount of stairs to climb before we open the great white doors to enter the retrospective exhibition of David Lynch’s visual art. Known for his surrealistic and horrific films, I must say I am quite nervous to immerse myself into Lynch’s world. Still a bit out of breath the threatening sounds and hazy airlessness creep at my throat – this is indeed full immersion. I’m getting dizzy and feeling sick. ‘Why, my dear?’ I ask myself in my most grown up inner voice, ‘this is not real; your boyfriend will protect you; you may leave anytime’.  

Well, I was wrong…

It was real! And I was so hooked I didn’t even think once of the world outside the museum, or about escaping, or my boyfriend. I don’t even know where he was those hours I meandered through this absurd fright-festival. It was like I could watch my own nightmares and they were way more beautiful than I always thought. Lynch let me wander about my own dark subconscious thoughts and fears without being ashamed because he wasn’t either. It felt like coming home, and I didn’t mind that there was someone in my house.

The exhibition showed paintings and drawings (from matchbox small to monumentally wall filling), lamp sculptures, lithographies, some music and a few video installations. Together the works displayed fragments, sequences and whole stories of horrific events. Most of them were grounded in household or family settings in which children often were a principle character – the effect was the feeling of constant threat. Many works were provided with text, in explicit titles but also integrated in the works themselves, having a cynically comic tone. Especially the gruesome three-dimensional paintings with mixed media were intriguingly similar to my nightmares: a surreal continuity of darkness, aggressive and uncanny textures that will evoke disgust, grim materials that indicate death or bloody violence and then the absurd transitions and contradictions that are potentially hilarious. Think black comedy, then go more eerie.

My favourite work was Rock with Seven Eyes from 1996, a mixed-media painting of 127×152 cm: smudgy ochre background, very crudely brushed (if he even used a brush, Lynch is known for rather using his hands) and then this big, bulgy lump of black paint in which there’s said to be chicken bones involved. While feeling at home, from this moment Lynch got me and I felt uncomfortable: ‘someone is in my house’. But who? Seven glass eyes stared from out this rock in different directions but sure as hell stared at me. Creepy, but then again, I stared back at them too. This longest stare-of of my life was at the same time maddening, amusing and spine-chilling. I felt as if this already piercing rock grew the size of the exhibition room and the eyes haunted me from work to work, leaving me bewitched and extremely self-aware. It was keeping track of me, and I was watching my back – or were these from now on the same thing? This rock activated a paranoid state of being haunted, while leaving room for creative playfulness. Happily ignoring the possible biblical reference to the stone with seven eyes, I think this exhibition (with my rock-friend as cornerstone) beautifully portrayed the dark side of human subconscious.

Do you have the guts to inspect your frightening fears and foul fantasies?

Odisseia by Cia. Hiato @ Explore Festival, ITA, Amsterdam

Hands-up for interactive theatre… No one?!! While my fellow students skipped this supposedly exhausting and awkward journey, I’ve had one of the best theatre nights of this year. Not only because of the backstage-entrance, warm welcome on stage with rum and a hug, but because of the whole immersion of body and mind in the telling and the told. Yesterday I went to the International Theatre of Amsterdam to see a production of the Brazilian ensemble Cia. Hiato, directed by Leonardo Moreira. It is part of the programming of the international Explore Festival, comparable to the Holland Festival but smaller. Ten Dutch theatres present international productions of politically engaged theatre and dance. On the flyer, Odisseia is described as highly unique, humoristic, feministic and hyper-actual. This will sure have something to do with its provocative duration of 4,5 hours and participatory format.

By friendly guidance we get trough the theatre wings at the back of the stage. The actors are kindly persuading everyone to try the liquor they brought for us from Brazil. One highly enthusiastic curly haired woman grabs me like it has been twenty years since I left. We are seated on tribunes on stage and a white chalked circle confines the theatrical space but from the very start is obvious how untenably abstract this border is – by interacting with the audience members, inviting and pushing individuals to participate, aloofness is ruled out. Not only is the circle a reference to endless travels of Odysseus, it wants us to reflect on the bizarre negligence and refusal of what’s outside our comfort zone. Moreira is know for his challenging performances an Odisseia does not let down. Not only are we witness to intense bodily and emotional performances, we are responsible to take part in this story: Who will hold Kalypso? Can someone film Circes tied-up naked body? Will someone shoot down Athena, please? Who grabs the ‘open mic’ to tell their own story, taunted by Poseidon? Honestly, I wasn’t that keen (or brave enough) to take the stage during the actual performance, though I enjoyed the festive breaks and danced my butt off to (Brazilian) party music. And sang my lungs out with the karaoke of Total Eclipse of the Heart (with on the back screen home videos of marines returning home and their dogs crazy of love).

‘Longing to belong’ is this year’s theme and described by the Explore Festival as the deep desire to feel at home, to find our place, to feel connection; to get away from hostile environments, or more figuratively, away from troubles within ourselves. We all know that Odysseus went away, but this story is not about him – it’s about the ones who stay while Odysseus leaves, and about the ones who love Odysseus, miss Odysseus, desire Odysseus, about the Kalypso’s, Penelope’s, Telemachos’, Athena’s and Circe’s. In this adaption we get the story of Homerus’ hero from the female perspective. What I loved most about the very intelligently written monologues weaved from the classical verses, critical references and very personal experiences, were the actors who spoke to me with their whole being. Raw and real, crawling and groaning the women addressed the issues of obsession and desire but also of rejection and abandonment. The scene in which Kalypso gives her whole body and soul to Odysseus is so heartbreakingly painful! This masturbation scene in which the actress rolls naked around the stage filming herself with her smartphone is so beautiful because of her disarming devotion to him and the foreseen ending of this chapter only greatens the heartbreak: despite her love he leaves after just one night. The rest of the women but also Odysseus’ fatherless son take the stage and each confront us with their lives.

After nearly five hours of provocative beauty, my mind and body were both evenly thrilled and tired. The emotions, images, thoughts and questions that linger in me are of great amount but also impressively in balance. The actors fought so hard for me, to reveal their selves in all their corporal and affective presence – and I feel… a bit guilty, maybe even ashamed. It is hard to admit but I do feel like Odysseus, lectured and loathed by Circe when she tells that nature is inexorable: ‘You visit an island, destroy it, and leave’.

Eigen Risico @ Machinefabriek, Groningen

Ever crashed a house party? Feeling pathetic and indebted to those who saved your lonely ass? Thank god it’s Friday: the doors of De Machinefabriek are open! And during the performance of Eigen Risico last monththe artists created a living room vibe where I could be the fly on the wall. The three guys enjoyed themselves on and offstage in such a natural way that I did not feel like a burden at all. Although it was not a life-changing event, it was certainly more stimulating than the common weekend set-up: to the couch transfixed, eating salty sticks, staring at Netflix.

Every Friday in Groningen you have the chance to mingle with the cool kids in De Machinefabriek, the home venue of the theatre company of the Northern Netherlands, the dancers of Club Guy&Roni and lately also the National Interdisciplinary Theatre Ensemble. NITE is a daring creation of artistic director Guy Weizman. In the cultural landscape of the Netherlands, financial funding is divided over divergent disciplines, but Weizman succeeded in his ambition of combining art forms under one name, one subsidy, one roof! Under this roof you can have a taste of this vision at FridayNITE, a weekly experimental evening from halve past seven to elevenish. The programming by Karina Bakx and Gijs Deddens mirrors the ambitions of NITE’s end-boss as it explores the boundaries of art forms and jumbles with genres: there’s been meta-theatre as well as animation film, noise-punk as well as jazz, performance art but also lectures. Since the kick-off one year ago this laboratory has embraced diversity and development, though maybe the greatest attraction is due to consistency: 19.00 ‘friet en sla’ for one euro.

This particular Friday we arrived early. Gijs was already playing his hip-hop records and it was obvious how this evening would start: beers. The lead singer of Eigen Risico was frisky frolicking through the building, drinking his own beers and smoking weed on the front porch while readying the merchandize. In contrast to this feisty filly, the other two guys were aloof awaiting the go-ahead. And it was a long wait, so plenty of time to catch up with friends and for the communal feast of fries and flow of beer. When the band finally started the vibe was already loose and festive. It was the third time these three guys performed in this formation, they come together whenever they feel like it – shout out to the programmers! The band name is the Dutch term for the excess of your health insurances, the amount you have to pay for the costs you make. It also could be translated as ‘at your own risk’. Eigen Risico confronts the audience with a crude, noisy and eclectic performance of electronic music accompanied with grunting, roaring, screaming and singing, against the background of the third guy charcoaling gigantic portraits, creating strongly accentuated deformed faces out of thick black lines with scratches of green, red and yellow. Aggressive electronic parts in the music are alternated with slow emotional guitar intervals and raw laments (could this beautiful hoarse voice be a specific Spanish talent of the singer?). These softer moments are truly beguiling, but beware the distortion in the music because this is a sign! In a blink of an eye the singer’s persona transforms from rolling on the stage of misery to gorging the mike, jumping around, shouting his texts in half-naked ecstasy. I loved this provocative energy, the whims and weirdness. Not to forget the contagious amicable interaction of the artists on stage. And the danceability of the act made me even more enthusiastic and hyper. But I was limited by a mass of mannequins. Exquisitely fashioned in normcore and retro sport outfits the audience stood there, motionless and expressionless. I don’t know if that means that they were too cool for me, but that’s not my kind of party…

After the performance the evening went on and I talked some more with the artists. The frontman felt his music to be really danceable too but doesn’t want to be responsible for the behaviour of the audience because he immerses himself in his performance completely. And when I later asked the painter if they did not intend to strike the spectators a bit more I got a lukewarm reaction: just doing my thing, minding my own business. He did appreciate my critical attempts to heathen the passion for attacking the audience but I had to settle with not everyone sharing the same internal flame. Lame! But then again, this attitude of ‘zero fucks given’ was also a really good thing. Firstly it was better than my suppressed anger at the other audience members. But more important, it induced the sweet feeling that I attended a super cool artistic happening and no one minded that I had crashed it. While the musical performance literally screamed, this whole NITE whispered ‘relaxation…’ Together with the food, drinks and make-up dancing afterwards it was a satisfying night out. See you next Friday!