Selected by contemporary art curator Charles Esche for the online curatorial project “Virtual vs Real” taking place on www.radicate.eu, artists Erwin Van Doorn & Inge Nabuurs introduce the trailers published on this web platform. The first one, titled “…but now it needs to be done…”, is a preview of an installation held at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 2011.
The second, titled “The Sea Awaits Your return,” is an introduction to the installation at the Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk, in 2014. During this Skype conversation, they also share with us thoughts and comments on the art world and our societies.
A Skype conversation with Erwin Van Doorn & Inge Nabuurs with an introduction to the video trailers “The Sea Awaits Your return” and “…but now it needs to be done…”
Conversation transcription below
A skype coffee break with Erwin Van Doorn & Inge Nabuurs
…but now it needs to be done…
The Sea Awaits Your Return
Introducing the trailers
Erwin Van Doorn: These trailers, that we are showing, are… one is of a work we made in 2011 and installed at the Van Abbemuseum and the other trailer is of an installation that we had at Laznia, Gdańsk (Poland). So it’s like with a movie, you are not watching here at a work but you are watching at a preview of an installation, an environment.
Inge Nabuurs: So we compose it to a trailer, like a short introduction of the work.
EVD: Both of the works are about the authority: the first is maybe more about the authority sensitiveness or sensitivity of authority, and the second is more like “puppets of authority.” The subject of the first work is the Second World War and for the second is the colonial relation between The Netherlands and Indonesia. So it is also very specific.
IN: But the relationship between the actions, in the work, and the larger structures, is to extend the scale of the body to a geological zone. That’s more the sense of the body of the trailer “Now it needs to be done” the work with penances and fields of Google Earth. On that way, we try to lend a meaning to the human activity, in order to emphasize the organic nature of the structures.
Tiziana Casapietra: The funny thing is that with Google Earth you cannot really go anywhere. For example you go almost everywhere in Europe, but there are places where you cannot really get inside, you only have pictures.
IN: Yes, but that’s the virtual world.
TC: Yes, of course, the virtual world.
IN: The spot we show in the trailers, lots of them are also private places, secret places. So you can see them, indeed, on Google Earth, but you cannot zoom in. But working in public spaces is constructing scenes that you cannot control, of course.
EVD: That also come with public spaces, of course. For example, when you see the shot of Hamburg, that was at the military hospital, and we broke in to do performance there. So when you can’t go in, you have to break some rules so that you can do it. With Google Earth of course you can’t go anywhere, but in the reality, in the real, maybe you can go further.
…but now it needs to be done…
EVD: The gap that we had in the family of not knowing what our grandfather was up to in the Second World War. So, there was this gap in our family history and of course we went on a search and then we found these 17 points and then we started to reconstruct, search for books, archives, internet… that is also why we chose this Lacan Formula. So this subject is never real, but it is also a combination of real, symbolic, and imagination. It’s not like a story but it’s a pilgrimage for those who fell out of the system, for those like the ones we have today, you can already see it coming, these guys going to Syria…
IN: That’s why it’s very interesting now again, of course.
EVD: And our States reaction is to take their passports… fuck that shit man we did it after War World Two, that shit doesn’t work…
The Sea Awaits Your Return
EVD: That starts with objects like shots of objects exchanging very fast and beneath there are questions. And in the reality when you step into the environment, you start doing a test, you get questions about your psychology, your mental state, and your answer is not in words but in objects. You choose one from five objects and after 36 questions one of the eight characters that follow the objects is appointed to you and that is the character that you will become in a moment of conflict.
IN: The portraits we show are more like allegorical, they symbolize the white power structures or the mental flush.
The artistic research
EVD: We started like ten years ago always with the intention to involve the audience, so not to have the autonomy ourselves, but to create some kind of system where the audience also has a part to play and becomes a participant instead of a peeping tom…
IN: It all started with self–organized performances, actions in public spaces, and afterwards it became slowly developing exhibition concepts. And also installing and creating the works at the location itself.
Self-determination, sensitiveness about authority…
EVD: Self-determination, sensitiveness about authority, how do you fit into a group how do you fall out…
IN: Yes, but also…
EVD: It is about being human. It’s a search for spiritual value, how can we use what is already there to put our values into it, to change the meaning of what is organized into the more complex situation. That is also what we did at Documenta we organized the Burckhardtstrasse we changed all the streets in between Friedrichsplatz and Wilhelmshöhe to Burckhardtstrasse.
So yes, that was in public space again. Then institutions ask you to represent interventions and then you go into it, and think about that, and that becomes environments, it becomes information, you see what works and what doesn’t work. The first environment was about interpassivity and then for the second we went more interactive with a test, it’s trying to get attachment, in a relationship with whom is coming, with those who have interest…
IN: …working between the conscious and the unconscious, it’s more like a game with yourself. So, we build an environment where you can play a role with yourself, having a conflict with what you know and what you don’t know. It is about creating a gap for creating fantasy or imagination.
EVD: At the moment, we are thinking about a search for collaborations to answer, react, or respond to questions we had from about 56 curators. In 2005 when we asked them to give a question for a question. And now we are thinking that maybe it is time to go to the places, have a tour like a rock band or something: live in hotels and trying to get some…
IN: But also in search of the differences that exist between ten years ago and now in the art world. Because they were all art people, people working in the art scene, what is changed during the last ten years? In 2006 we left a message in a bottle floating through the rivers in Europe from the museum and now we are symbolically trying to answer or reflect the questions they’ve asked at that time.