online & Laken, Brussels (BE)
Resource is a site-specific intervention within the Present series in which minimal interventions tackle the more elaborate question about how public space remains public, present and active. Both in times when the public infrastructure like theaters, concert halls, musea, religious buildings, … activate us to go out into the world we live in, talk about it and rethink it, and in times where gathering spaces have become less accessible or even inaccessible. These public places of collective movement are essential in our way of dealing with ourselves, other people and the community we shape together. Reclaiming and/or reusing these spaces is also what happens in the encouraging intervention that is Resource.
The small poetic action is located at the Sint-Anna bron in Laken, an older and symbolic site consisting of a fountain that is accessible by stairs leading to an intimate lowered terrace with tiered seating rising on all sides. The water of the source formerly had healing properties attributed to it, supposedly beneficial for the eyes, and against cramps and fever. The seating around the well can perfectly host about 30 people sitting in two tiered rows of stone, essentially creating a small outdoor amphitheatre, seemingly buried in the surrounding park. The structure is built below ground level and implies a humble attitude towards the world.
By having an accommodating and welcoming arena, the Sint-Anna well continuously displays its unused potential. In order to understand each other again and to enter into a dialogue, it is appropriate to withdraw to the safety of this cave-like forum. Not to be above the other’s opinion, not to look down on the world from a higher perspective, but on the contrary to take position at ground level, and to look for what lies underneath, what is growing below. The forest does not grow by nourishing only the biggest tree. A permaculture of society presupposes coexisting positions.
The work uses the water from the source to remove the dirt, natural moss and exhaust gases on the walls of the space, leaving behind a message. The process does not harm the wall, it just cleans it. Over time, the surface will return to its prior state.
A concise sentence reflects on the site itself and the state of the community it is surrounded by. The distilled words inside the arena encourage dialogue - be it by the local community or occasional passers-by. It is an invitation however democratic in its call to action - it can be decisively ignored. The non-existent dialogues thus won’t echo or be amplified in this imagined parliament- typically the host for an assembly of voices- , pointing out the unfinished and vulnerable human task of entering into dialogue.
Dramaturge Elisa Demarré wrote a text that enters into dialogue with this work.
Lower than were I was
My eyes saw clearly - once more
The words of another
I descended into an under
Into the well of the mother’s mother
It is here where absolution springs from the grounds
It is here where surrender awaits
And healing takes place
For the willing and humble-hearted
The foundations we are built on are worn out,
unravelling into islands of disbelief
We are Sovereign, Saved, Separate
Defined by rejection
No space for embrace - yet what is it you truly desire?
Sheltered by this inverted tower
I cannot escape the gaze of another
I cannot but feel our overlap and the blurry borders of our opinions and misunderstandings
The way my yes and your no are but reflections of our muted doubts and wishes,
Scattering the black and the white into a myriad of greys
The way our words are trying to hold so much of what we are,
Yet they never succeed
How could they, the missing words are always the loudest
We play our parts on the public stage
Each in turn searching for the lights, sometimes speaking our lines from the shadows
But louder so you would hear it anyway
Picking out costumes, trying out ways of dressing up and behaving because we feel we are being watched
We’re searching for words and sentences, building our own scripts and tracing dialogues that bounce off the surrounding walls
I hear myself indirectly,
sometimes I hear you too and feel how our words and sightlines meet in rattling ignitions
Here lies the source of healing, where the water paves its way - effervescently
From the high rising trees through the graves of the dead towards the city of the living
The water has traveled a full cycle
Even before we understand where we fit in - should we ever do comprehend -
The smallest shackle interlinking with what surrounds us
And I, lower than where I was before
I can see clearly - once more
How the words of another stand out
As I stand down, and sit
As we gather and let ourselves be quenched
By the water of a timeless tide
concept: Kevin Trappeniers
dramaturgy: Elisa Demarré
photography: Boris Kuijpers
image editing: Pieter Dedoncker
production: Stray Light vzw
in collaboration with: C-TAKT
supported by: Flemish Government