In 2008 I received a grand to do research on the use of video in my practice. There has always been a conceptual side to my work and I had the idea that the use of video would make my ideas clearer. I started to perform actions in front of a camera, edited short shots that I took for a videodiary into a longer whole and after doing another action I thought I might try to perform live: the things I did were easily reproduced and it seemed more natural. For the “Voorbij het Cadavre Exquis”– show by EX-MÊKH I prepared a large bowl of whipped cream and I took the essay Apunto! that I wrote for Apunto-gallery in Amsterdam where I exhibited in 1988. During the opening of the exhibition I sat down in front of my painting “Mont Ventoux” which I made of torn and colored pieces of paper and I plunged my head in the large bowl of cream. Eyes, mouth, nose and ears were full of cream and I started to try and read the essay aloud. Each time I thought people could distinguish words again I would plunge into the bowl anew and I continued doing this just as long as it took me to read the whole essay. Then I took a bow and disappeared.
This was the first of a number of actions I have performed during exhibitions and on the Malieveld during our project on saturday morning. I had to overcome something, but I like to have an audience and I think my ideas come across. I have the idea that the live-performing works better than my video’s, though some video’s do work well, mostly when I’m not in them.
About a stone
On May 2, 2020 I took along a stone from my garden to the Malieveld to do a small performance I called ‘The Weight‘. This was meant to illustrate the weight an artist has to carry by continuing his practice under whatever circumstances, which was very relevant after the first wave of corona measures. The stone originated from Provence from where I took several stones and rocks for our garden.
In september Ellen Rodenberg was invited for the ‘FeMaler‘ exibition in Berlin and she asked Maarten Schepers and me to join serving as her antagonists. I decided to dedicate my work to the muse. I would make an installation which I would open with a performance using the stone again: I would lay beside it and tap on it to hear the voices of troubadours that it would have experienced, lying along the roads along which these poets traveled from castle to castle. You can see the project in the post underneath. After the opening of the exhibition the stone stayed in Berlin all winter in the studio of Marian Wijnvoord, a friend of ours and also a member of KRAATZ, an interesting international artists’ collective. During the winter nothing much happened and when Platforms Project 2021 in Athens decided to organise itself on-line we decided to invite A Trans and KRAATZ, our international friends to join us in our virtual booth. KRAATZ reacted with an enthusiastic response and produced the video ‘Idioliths‘ starring, to our great surprise, the stone!
In the end of June KRAATZ invited EX-MÊKH to participate in the exhibition ‘Les Idiolithes’ in EP7 in Paris. It’s building has a facade with sixteen video-screens and we were supposed to show video on this wall for two weeks, alternating with KRAATZ and Sabine Bürger who was also invited. In the opening weekend there was an opportunity to do performances, of which a ritual returning of the stone from KRAATZ to EX-MÊKH was already planned. This returning of the stone was planned the second night and I proposed to do ‘The Weight’ again with the idea that the stone had gained a soul, traveling from France to Den Haag, to Berlin, to Paris and back to Den Haag. All the more because it got more meaning each time and it would be a real responsibility to take care of it and maybe use it again. Thus it happened:
After this I planned a second performance, based on the legend of Sysiphus and five observations during walks in the South of France. You can see it here:
The situation before the performance was like this at the five stations:
And these drawings were made along the way:
Knocking on heaven’s door
A-Trans in Berlin asked Ellen Rodenberg to make an installation in their Schaufenster exhibitions in Subwaystation Kleistpark (U7). This season the theme of all A TRANS-exhibitions is A Femme City dealing with the female gaze on urban developments. Ellen complied and decided to ask her male-EX-MÊKH companions Maarten Schepers and me to design a pendant of her installation in one of the two shop-windows focussing on the element of gender in EX-MÊKH. The exhibition was opened friday September 11, 2020 by two performances: Knockin on Heaven’s Door van Kees Koomen and Opening Ritual van Ellen Rodenberg.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door
Performance Kees Koomen during opening FeMaler
A STONE FOUND ALONG THE EMERALD RIVER
A SONG HEARD KNOCKING NEXT,
ANOTHER YEARNING NEAR EMBRACE
I WATCHED THE STARS AT NIGHT
MUSES ON MY MIND, LES NEIGES
MOLTEN AROUND MY BODY
DIANA WANTED NO ADMIRATION
TURNED HIM INTO A STAG
HE WAS TORN APART BY HIS DOGS
PARTS OF ME NOW SUPPORT THE SONGS I SANG
OF FLASHES SHE ALLOWED ME, THEY LINGERED IN MY MIND
AND FOUND REFUGE IN CIVITATEM
Maarten Schepers designed the shop window that was available for him and Kees Koomen. After hearing about Kees Koomen’s plans to do something with his muse-series, a series of small paintings inspired by the ever suddenly appearing muse during his life, Maarten designed a box to be installed in the shop window: a bijou-box or a box for bon-bons referring to feminine parafernalia with the theme A Femmes City in mind. In this box he would put square pedestals to put the paintings on.
During the summer Kees did a lot of night swimming. He remembered the story of Actaeon, when he was lying in the water looking at the stars . His dogs ripped This Greek man apart because he saw Diana naked, bathing in a stream in the forest. Being torn apart by the manifold manifestations of beauty is a known predicament for artists. Because of this the artist painted of a selfportrait floating on his back in the sea to later tear it apart for the exhibition. The parts of his body would support the paintings. Maarten applied some formal ajustments of the shop window: he changed the colours into the colours of the water and the sky at night, he lowered the ceiling on one side as to suggest more space adding perspective and he cut holes in the sky to suggest stars. He also put orange tape on the window above and under the image. The men decided to make the pedestals round and to partly paint them in the colour of the water.
Then Kees added his inspiration for the concept of the muse to the performance that would open their part of the exhibition: He decided to lie down in the water after removing his selfportrait to which he had added a rock from Provence, the part of France where troubadours would walk the roads from castle to castle to sing their songs to their muses. Lying down next to the rock he would hear those songs from afar, as he would also hear the knocking on the wall of the first muse he was aware of. He knocks along the rhythm of the song and frantically tries to reach the other side by knocking on the rock. Then he stands up, removes the rock and puts the pedestals in order. He tears his selfportrait in parts and puts them on the pedestals after which he arranges the paintings on top of it. Thus this part of the exhibition is open!
May 2, 2020
For us it was a disappointment Platforms Project 2020 in Athens was cancelled this year due to the worldwide Corona crisis. However, the director, Artemis Potamianou and the board decided to organize it all on the internet. EX-MÊKH was going to do a participation project in Athens but now that our booth is going to be shown in digital animation we decided to make a video about trial and error, something artists are well aware about! We fell back on the Malieveld, a public field in Den Haag, and we shot a video with performances. For this I executed a performance called “The Boogieman”, showing a palimpsest and one trying out the possibility of an exhibition with textworks called “Existence”.
For the Weekend of Performances which A-Trans in Berlin was so nice to organize right after MÊKH-web live I worked together with percussionist Yorgos Dimitriades. My idea was to write down the sounds that Yorgos made in an improvisation. Because the space in the Haus der Statistik had a large window looking out over the street ànd because the performances would take place during sunset I decided to write on the window with chalk-markers. In this way the public could see from the inside and from the outside in a natural theatrical setting.
The Diaries, September 16 – October 6, 2019
For the EX-MÊKH exhibition MÊKH-web I decided to write a diary on the wall. Each day in that period would have a remark about something that happened, that I saw or that I read on that day. I decided to do that with wool and push buddies which I used earlier. Also, during the opening hours I would write the texts with the public present.
Above one can see the development of the text during the exhibition
Donna me prega
P.S.: Don’t miss this, it is live!
Performancefestival P.S. at Hoogtij, The Hague Youth Factory, Den Haag-
March 10, 2017
P.S. at Ruimtevaart
Stichting Ruimtevaart, Den Haag – January 22, 2017
Plane to perform (for Merce Cunningham)
Malieveld April 2, 2016
Darf ich auf Ihren Gedanken mit fahren?
Augentausch (during finissage)
A-Trans Art platform, Berlin (D) – Oktober 31, 2015
During the finissage of “Augentausch” in Berlin I did a performance in which I hitchhiked among the visitors. When asked what I wanted I asked them if I could take a ride on their thoughts about the exhibition. If they agreed I would take their hand and walked through the exhibition, talking about the works. Thus I confirmed the Alliance between me and the audience, parallel to the Alliance Helmut Kohl and Francois Miterrand showed an Verdun. The hitchhiking alludes to the way I travelled through Germany a lot in the seventies and eighties. The paintings “Augsburg” and “Aquaplaning” are taken from diary-entrances handling about those travels.
Presentation Catalogue Unnoticed Art Festival
Performance in a city-bus in Dordrecht, January 1, 2015
The Unnoticed Art Festival
Final Presentation, Pictura Dordrecht – August 31, 2014
The Second Explodes
Kunsthalle Autocentre Lana , Lana (IT) – May 2nd, 2014
The Diaries, January 26th 2014 – a selfportrait
EX-MÊKH @ Buro Rotterdam, Rotterdam – January 26th 2014
The Diaries, August 19, 2010
Malieveld Den Haag, September 21th, 2013
Structural Analysis (looking for Focus)
Malieveld Den Haag, September 7th 2013
Malieveld, Den Haag – June 22nd, 2013
Zero the Hero
Malieveld @ Pier Scheveningen – April 20th 2013
The Lying Poet – 2012
EX-MÊKH: Cadavre Exquis
Quartair, Den Haag May 19th 2012 – opening
During the opening of the EX-MÊKH exhibition “Voorbij het cadavre exquis” I executed my first performance called “The Lying poet”. I started by sitting down with a bowl of whipped cream on my lap and I took a piece of tekst named “Apunto”, which I wrote for my first exhibition in Amsterdam at Apunto Gallery.
First I put my face in the cream, so that all the holes in my head would fill themselves with cream. Then I started to read the tekst to the audience which of course resulted in a lot of bubbles. Whenever the public started to understand what I read I took another dip into the cream, untill the text, about 1500 words, was finished. It handles about the difficult tension there is between an artist’s life and the bourgois life: it makes it hard to speak out as an artist sometimes.