The Cucumber Temple

Page 1


1 M A R C H –1 5 M A R C H 2 01 5

You might wonder how to describe me, but I am one of those who cannot be described properly. What you call me, how you name me, depends on you.

























Six young artists from MFA St. Joost Academy of Arts and Design are invited to make an exhibition at Expo Plu in Njmegen.1 As their practices are very diverse they asked Martjn in ‘t Veld to write a text, as a framework, a structure. And he did. Or better, he wrote an assemblage of several short texts. These text fragments do not have a classical beginning, middle and end. They are rhizomorphic, in line with Milles Plateaux by Deleuze and Guattari. “…any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be”, so they say. In this light the fragments become a ´body without organs´, something that grows and overgrows, of which beginning and end could be anywhere. Anywhere out of the world. Anywhere or not at all. These fragments do and do not have an inner relation simultaneously. They relate wildly. Win the world cup, get drunk


and throw up in a sink, break the walls that block your search for love and happiness, a slice of cucumber stuck in a teacher’s beard. But there are recurring elements. The cucumber is one, hence the title of the exhibition. And, more important in this context, there is the recurring green screen. The green screen that becomes an open ield. A ield that holds a moment of potential. That performs an invitation. The six artists have set themselves the task to respond to this open moment, to this invitation. And to do so with works of art. How do they do this? Dear public, pay close attention now! On the one hand they have set themselves up. Cufed their hands. There is a text they must respond to. A text about green screens and cucumbers. But on the other hand the artists have freed themselves. In the same movement that they cufed their hands they set themselves free. Because the text is not only about green screens, it also functions itself as a green screen. A screen to project anything on. Anything at all. It’s an open invitation. A body without organs. A place to take of from. To scramble the codes. Green screens as contemporary streams to pass through, without knowing any longer whether they are carrying us


elsewhere or lowing back over us already.2 It’s a Houdini act. I will retrace the steps. But this time for real. Get someone from the public, have the artists’ hands cufed and get rid of the key, throw the artist in a water tank illed to the max, make sure the public knows there is no escape, make absolute sure -, then have the tank covered with black cloth, dim the lights, make the public hold their breaths for endless moments, beat the drums faster, take the cloth away with a gentle sweep. Show them the miraculous escape. Getting cufed to show how you can escape. Any good artwork inds the ine balance between self imposed rules and freedom. F O OT N OT E S 1. Originaly this exhibition was planned to be part of the project ´Sub-

ject,TjdenRuimte´ (“Subject,Time,andSpace”)by StjnvanDorpe. 2. This line is re-written from: Deleuze and Guattari, Anti Oedipus,

p. 132-133.




Zes jonge kunstenaars van MFA St. Joost Academy for Arts and Design zjn uitgenodigd een tentoonstelling samen te stellen in Expo Plu in Njmegen.1 Omdat hun praktjken zeer divers zjn vroegen zj Martjn in ’t Veld een tekst te schrjven, als een raamwerk, een structuur. Dat heeft hj gedaan. Beter gezegd, hj schreef een verzameling korte teksten. Deze tekst fragmenten hebben geen klassiek begin, midden en eind. Ze zjn rhizomatisch, als in Milles Plateaux van Deleuze and Guattari. “…elk punt van een rhizome kan en moet verbonden worden met elk ander punt”, stellen zj. In het licht hiervan worden de tekstfragmenten van in ’t Veld een ‘lichaam zonder organen’, iets dat groeit en woekert, waarvan het begin en het einde overal kunnen zjn. Anywhere out of the world. Anywhere or not at all.


De fragmenten zjn tegeljkertjd wel en niet aan elkaar gerelateerd. Een wild verband. Win de World Cup, wordt dronken en ga over je nek in een wasbak, breek de muren af die je zoektocht naar liefde en geluk in de weg staan, een stukje komkommer dat achterbljft in de baard van de meester. Maar er zjn ook terugkerende elementen. De komkommer is er een,- vandaar de titel van de tentoonstelling. En, nog belangrjker in deze context, er is het terugkerende green screen. Het green screen dat wordt tot een open veld. Een veld dat een moment van potentie in zich draagt. Dat uitnodigt tot. De zes kunstenaars hebben zichzelf de opdracht gegeven om op dit open moment, op deze uitnodiging, in te gaan. En dat te doen door middel van een werk. Hoe doen ze dat? Geacht publiek, let nu goed op! Aan de ene kant is er geen ontsnapping mogeljk. Hun handen geboeid. Er is een tekst waar ze op moeten reageren. Een tekst over green screens en komkommers. Maar aan de andere kant hebben ze zich in een en dezelfde beweging waarin ze zichzelf klem zetten ook bevrjd. Want de tekst gaat niet alleen over green screens, hj functioneert zelf ook als een green screen. Een scherm om alles op te projecteren. Willekeurig wat. Een open uitnodiging. Een lichaam zonder organen. Een vertrekpunt om de codes te kraken. 8

De green screen als een hedendaagse stroom om doorheen te waden, zonder te weten of die ons ergens anders heen draagt of terug over ons heen stroomt.2 Het is een Houdini Act. Laat me de stappen herhalen. Maar nu echt. Neem iemand uit het publiek, laat de kunstenaar in de boeien slaan en gooi de sleutel weg, gooi de kunstenaar vervolgens in een tot de nok gevulde tank met water, zorg dat het publiek zeker weet – heel zeker weet - dat er geen mogeljkheid tot ontsnappen is, trek een glimmende doek over de tank, dim het licht, laat het publiek de adem inhouden, versnel het tromgerofel, trek met een ruk de doek weg. Toon het publiek een miraculeuze ontsnapping. In de boeien geslagen worden om te tonen hoe je kunt ontsnappen. Elk goed kunstwerk zoekt het evenwicht tussen zelfopgelegde regels en vrjheid. VO E T N OT E N 1. Oorspronkeljk was deze tentoonstelling gepland als deel van

het project “Subject, Tjd, en Ruimte” van Stjn van Dorpe. 2. Vrj naar Deleuze en Guattari, Anti Oedipus p. 132-133.










17 17





A F R I E N D O F M I N E once told me about his dad who came home with a slice of cucumber in his beard. His father is a teacher in elementary school and every day brings a cucumber salad with him for lunch. He has lunch around noon and then continues teaching till about ive. Apparently a piece of cucumber had gotten stuck in his beard during lunch and he’d been standing in front of the class for half a day without noticing. Nobody had said anything. This is how I sometimes feel after seeing an exhibition. I go and see a show, I am inside, I look at the artworks attentively, like serious school kids they obey me, silently undergo my gaze, but when I go out, I often feel there ’s a piece of cucumber stuck in my beard. In short, as if something slipped my mind. Initially, by reading some documentation, doing some extra research I ‘d tried to pick that piece of cucumber out but at a certain point I got used to it, to that piece of cucumber. And now, I am actually disappointed when I leave an exhibition without. 21

T H E R E WA S S O M E SW E AT O N T H E TA B L E when I came in. Underneath the glasses it was. I don’t know for how long. It was the hundred and eighteenth minute and it was still nilnil and all the walls where white, except for one which was bright and green and which seemed to suck everybody’s eyes in. It looked like it would be penalties. Stefen ordered a round of Moscow Mule. Moscow mule is normally served with mint and lime but in Berlin they tend to leave out the mint and swap the lime for cucumber. Stefen says it’s because lime is strongly associated with what he calls ‘Popcorn cocktails’ by which he means Caparinha’s, mojito’s etc. Berlin doesn’t like to be part of this popcorn culture he tells me. It wants to be a bit diferent from the rest of the world, at least here in Neu-Köln he says. While I am starring at the green door, he tells me cucumber is conscious, is healthy and therefor a perfect alternative to those ‘mainstream chewing gum cocktails’. I am only half listening. Germany is playing Argentina and because of the excitement I already drank four pints of beer. I don’t care what I am drinking next, wether my cocktail is conscious or not, or if it tastes like popcorn. As long as the alcohol burns a hole my nervousness its all good.


Stefen comes back and hands me my drink. I just briely see the slice of cucumber loating in my glass and then look back up to the screen where the soccer players move around like little atoms. They are forming formations, huddling together, then blowing up again, all seemingly possessed by this black and white ball which like a magnet pushes and pulls and dictates all the movement of the game. I ind myself looking at the ball, but it’s not the ball I am thinking about but the green pitch which makes all this movement possible. To me, it looks like a green screen used for movies and which as such holds this ininite amount of possible scenarios in which the game can unfold. I ind myself thinking about how many people in the whole world are looking at this very same screen, who are illing their own green screens with their own personal thoughts and emotions when suddenly Germany scores a goal in the very last minute. Everybody around me is jumping and screaming. I am winning! We are wining! Stefen congratulates everybody in the bar, hugging them and shouting and I don’t really know what to do with all my excitement, where to take it, how to enter this chaos and then I look at my drink. There is a small and


round green screen loating inside my glass.

O N E DAY, traveling through the west coast I visited an antique market. It was a small market on a fenced of parking lot in San Francisco. Most of the stuf they sold were just antiques, rusty chandeliers, cutlery, paintings etc.. but there was one guy who was selling material from movies, like lightning equipment, scene boards, some costumes etc.. All old and discarded stuf from Universal studios he claimed. He looked a bit like a retired hollywood director himself, wearing a baseball cap, big sunglasses etc. Among the things he was selling was green screen. Which was just a role of green fabric wrapped around a wooden stick. I asked him about which movies it was used for. He didn’t know, but he assured me it came from the Universal studio’s so it must have functioned as a backdrop in some hollywood pictures. It looked like an ordinary role of cotton to me. It was impossible to tell wether or not this thing has even been near the Universal studio’s. For a moment I considered buying it and traveling with it through the states, just to have it along and let it absorb my journey, but it seemed too much of a hassle. 24

Perhaps I could just cut out a small piece I thought. I asked him what it costed; two hundred dollars; way more than what i could aford. Then I noticed the cotton was wearing of a bit on one end, and iddling a bit with the green screen, pretending I was inspecting it and considering a purchase, I managed to pull a lose a small thread, which I stuck into my pocket. That small green thread travelled with me through the states and is now hanging in a small zippy bag on the wall of my living room. Biking in New York, skateboarding in San Francisco, and who knows a small fragment of a hollywood movie, it’s all in there.

YO U M I G H T WO N D E R about how to describe me, but I am one of those who can not be described properly. What you call me, how you name me, depends on you. Just tell me what ever comes up in your mind. Everything is ine with me. Really, don’t worry about it. As a matter of fact I don’t have a say in all of this, so just tell me what comes up in your head, in your heart, in your little toe if you like.


If you are thinking about the sound of the car passing by the open window and wonder what colour it is that is who I am. If because of the curly hairs sticking to your coat you wonder if you actually own an invisible cat, that’s me as well. If you are wondering if last summer smelled like almonds, cherries or something totally diferent, that’s also me. If somebody asks you a question and you don’t immediately know the answer, that’s me. If you wake up in the morning, trying to remember what you dreamt, and the only thing you know is that it was pleasant or unpleasant, that is me. If you are asked hey, what is your favourite colour, and tend to answer a rock before you actually say green, that’s me. If you are waiting for the buss and reach in your pocket just to see if it still its your hand, that is me as well. If you are at the supermarket and right in the moment you have paid for your groceries at the counter you realise you forgot to buy something, that is me as well. My eyes are green and so is my skin.


I ’ M S I T T I N G O N M Y K N E E S on the loor and am staring at the walls of the temple around me. The walls are made out of boulders, some of them are big and look unbearably heavy and other are small and seem very light. The walls around me are like the walls inside of me. The walls are my problems and my shortcomings ,which have been blocking me all my life in my search for love and happiness, and now here, sitting on my knees, in all peace, concentrating on my breathing I inally understand it. The big stones are too heavy to move, but they are so heavy because they form the foundation of my life, of who I am, and if I’d remove them, my temple would collapse and my life with it. No, I should leave the big stones on their place, but the small ones on the other hand I can easily remove them from the walls, and when I do, fresh green sunlight will come lowing in and release me from my coninements. Here a small opening. There another one. Step by step. And before I know it, I am loating in a green sky between the cucumber stars.

A S T O R Y W I T H C U CU M B E R PA R E N T H ES E S . The story is about a man who is packing for a vacation. He


is in the living room of his house where he has assembled all the things he will take on his journey. Among the things he packs are a small tent (green?) books, water and canned food for about a week. He doesn’t bring a phone or laptop. After making sure he hasn’t forgotten anything (he uses a checklist) he puts everything in a big backpack, and puts it on. Then he picks up a small key from the table and walks to a door (door should be solid) in the living room. He uses the key to open the door and enters the room. When he is in the room he locks the door behind him and puts the key away. The door leads to an entirely windowless room with white walls and a wooden loor. It is apr. 10x10x10m. There is only a round hole high up in the domed ceiling (unreachable) which lets through sunlight (green?). The man sets up the tent in the middle of the room and stabilises it by connecting guy-rope from the top of the tent to the ground. To attach the rope to the ground he jams a tent nail into the wooden loor with a hammer and ties the string around it. By the huge number of holes already present in the wooden beams it becomes clear that the man has pitched his tent here many times before (decades). After the tent is set up, the man spends the whole week reading books and writing 28

in his diary. More often than not he looks up from his diary and look at the white walls, lost in thought. In the evenings he heats up his canned food on a small gas stove. Mainly he uses the week for a period for exclusion and contemplation. On the morning of the eighth day, he picks up all his gear again and walks up to the door. He slides his ingers is his breast pocket to get the key out, but when he takes them out instead of the key he is holding a bronze slice of cucumber in his hand. The man stares at it for a bit. He looks slightly surprised but then nevertheless, puts it in the lock. The cucumber squeaks (like rust?) when he puts it in but when he turns it, it breaks of, which makes it impossible for him to open the door. The man tries to force the door open in numerous other ways, but nothing works. After hours of trying he gives up and falls asleep on the ground(?). The next morning he tries again, but without any result. Still he makes many further attempts to open the door (using pocket knife? hammer? etc.). All unsuccessful. At the end of the day, tired, he gives up and starts to slowly pitch his tent again while it is getting dark in the room.


WA K I N G U P, I vaguely remember throwing up the world cup last night. Some green remnants are still in my sink. Using my thumb, I push them down the drain, waiting for the cofee water to boil. The night still swirls through my head and I have to calibrate my thoughts. I am trying to think what it is I have to do today. The only thing which actually comes to mind is to drop by the grocery store for some vegetables. But what else? I know there is more but I can’t igure out what at the moment. Some work... Some appointments... For sure there is something. It must be the alcohol still messing with my mind... These bloody Moscow mules... Well… perhaps it is best to just start with the groceries. Whatever the rest might be, i’m sure it will come later... It always does.



Q UA RT Z The Irish word for quartz is grian cloch,

Silicon dioxide:

which means ‘stone of the sun’.

SiO2 rhombic Hardness: 7

Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed quartz to be water ice, permanently frozen after great lengths of time (the word “crystal” comes from the Greek word κρύσταλλος, “ice”).

Similar weight: 2,65 Stripe: colourless, white to grey *

Rock Crystal (St. Gotthard, Switzerland) *


* Mineralen en Gesteenten, Omega Boek Producties, Amsterdam 32

G L A SS Glass is an amorphous (non-crystalline) sol-

Silicon dioxide: SiO2

id material which is often transparent and

75 %

which is familiar from use as window glass

Sodium oxide: Na2O

and in glass bottles.

Calsium Oxide: CAO Hardness: 5.5 Similar weight: 2,5 Stripe: colourless

Glass (Njmegen, The Netherlands)




Time to Recollect 2015 p. 35 paper mache, gold leaf 35

p. 36 - 38 monotype on paper (4x) 100 x 140 cm



Loom 39

2015 (stills from video)

Loom, video projection (loop)





The Other 2015 (overview) 43

Close Separated Serie 2015 metal bucket, sand, brush and dustpan 44

The Other 2015 ceramics, textile, wigg, chocolate 45

The Other 2015 paper, feather 46


It was night with its darkness Or the day with its brightness I don’t remember well. She had leaned on the wet lawn, gazing at the horizon.

Untitled 2015 transparent resin 40 x 20 x 28 cm



Untitled 2015 silkscreen print on painted metal 35 x 50 cm 49

Untitled 2015 transparent resin 40 x 20 x 28 cm 50


Eyewitness 55with IKEA home planner software made



ANTOINE 2015 60 x 60 x 80 cm IKEA basic kitchen cabinet, sink and water tap, Praxis worktop, stickers depicting collective paintings, water, copper pipe and PVC pipe




The work of DA N N I VA N A M S T E L (NL) seems to leave behind a trace, a memory, a gesture in the space. What kind of efect does the habitation have on the memories of other spaces? Van Amstel researches the notion of ‘embodied space’, and what this generates. Her installations exist of found domestic objects in combination with sculptures made of metal, wood, ceramics and glass. They are essential, poetic images, on the edge of what is and can be a work of art. Themes and recurring questions in the work of K AT R E I N B R E U K E R S (NL) are related to her personal environment and experiences. She was raised in a family where the line separating family life and creative expression was thin, where performances where held in the living room. Breukers connects these experiences and forms with Folk art, which for her holds a personal as well as a social urgency. Her attention goes out to handcrafted work, the authenticity that shows itself through a performative and often humoristic manner.


The focus of TYA S L E E U W E R I N K ’ S (NL) practice lies on how to use and visualize the moment of insight. It is about the fascination with the unconscious mind, its processes and how it reveals itself to the conscious mind. Leeuwerink looks for ways to capture the spontaneous and fugacious character of these promptings and to depict them in his work. He makes use of short ilms, installations, sculptures, texts, images and photos. The unconscious mind becomes something one can always return to, a loop, which is activated and compels the viewer to relect on the abundance of images and thoughts we are exposed to. For M A U D O O N K (NL), movement is the most important aspect of her work. Movement is a dialogue, the story, and the end result. Oonk takes the position of a player by making choices and rules about how to work and deal with materials. The material gets decontextualized from its plastic origins because of Maud’s action, like a play that has its own intrinsic reality. M O H A D ES E H R A H I M I TA B A R (IR) focuses on the relationship between place, memory, and imagination. Our bodies ind themselves in between the past and the present, within the unique space we call memory. The relationship between our bodies, reality, and the place where our bodies and mem56

ories are shaped is transformed into visual experiments. The works become a combination of silkscreen and paint on small metal plates leaning against the wall, depicting grey, misty, always abandoned spaces. The result is not necessarily realistic, imagination is always involved. M A A RT E N S P O N S ’ (NL) art practice is about the shared potential during the creation, selection and display of a visual language that relates to the medium of painting. He works in the tradition of Provisional Painting and explores the possibilities of painting collectively. Spons formulates conditions and structures to act intuitively, either individually or collectively. In exhibitions he combines paintings, collages, assemblages, prints, sculptures and ready-made objects. He treats these things in a fundamental way. M A RT I J N I N ‘ T V E L D (NL) makes sculptures and writes texts. He is interested in everyday objects and tries to give a poetic or philosophical meaning to them. The relationships between personal experiences, everyday situations and the world “at large” play a major role in this process.




Het werk van DA N N I VA N A M S T E L (NL) ljkt een spoor, een herinnering, een gebaar in de ruimte achter te laten. Wat voor efect heeft bewoning op onze gedachten over andere ruimtes? Danni van Amstel onderzoekt de ‘belichaamde ruimte’, en wat deze genereert. Haar installaties bestaan uit gevonden en huiseljke objecten gecombineerd met sculpturen van metaal, hout, keramiek en glas. Het zjn essentiële, poëtische beelden, aan de grens van wat een werk is en kan zjn. Thema’s en terugkerende vragen in het werk van K AT R E I N B R E U K E R S (NL) zjn gerelateerd aan persoonljke omgeving en ervaringen. Zj groeide op in een gezin waar de grens tussen gezinsleven en creatieve expressie dun was, waar optredens gegeven werden in de huiskamer. Breukers verbindt deze ervaringen en vormen met Folk art welke voor haar naast een persoonljke ook een grotere maatschappelijke urgentie bezit. Haar aandacht gaat uit naar handwerk, het authentieke dat op een performatieve en vaak humoristische manier zich toont. De focus van TYA S L E E U W E R I N K ’s praktjk richt zich op het moment van het hebben van een ingeving. Hoe het onbe-


wuste te visualiseren? Hoe immateriële processen kenbaar te maken aan het bewustzjn? Leeuwerink legt de spontaniteit en het vluchtige karakter van deze ingevingen vast in korte ilms, installaties, sculpturen, teksten, beelden en foto’s. Het onbewuste wordt daarmee iets waar je steeds naar terug kunt keren, een loop, die geactiveerd wordt en de beschouwer aanzet tot relecteren op onze overvloed aan beelden en daaraan gekoppelde gedachten. Beweging is voor M A U D O O N K (NL) het belangrjkste aspect in haar werk. Het is zowel dialoog, verhaal als eindresultaat. Oonk neemt de positie in van een ‘speler’ door keuzes en regels te maken over hoe met materiaal te werken en om te gaan. Materiaal wordt ge-decontextualiseerd, weggehaald van zjn plastische origine, als een toneelstuk dat zjn eigen realiteit produceert. M O H A D ES E H R A H I M I TA B A R (IR) richt zich op de relatie tussen plaats, herinnering en verbeelding. Onze lichamen bevinden zich altjd tussen verleden en heden, binnen het unieke dat we geheugen noemen. De relatie tussen ons lichaam en de realiteit (plaats), waar ons lichaam en geheugen gevormd en opgeslagen worden zet ze om in visuele experimenten. De werken zjn een combinatie van zeefdrukken en verf op kleine metalen platen die tegen de muur leunen, 59

ze tonen grjze, mistige, altjd verlaten plaatsen. Het resultaat is niet noodzakeljk realistisch, de verbeelding is altjd aanwezig. M A A RT E N S P O N S ’ (NL) praktjk richt zich op het (gedeelde) potentieel tjdens het moment van maken, selecteren en tonen. Het uitvinden van een visuele taal aan de randen van de schilderkunst. Hj werkt in de traditie van Provisional Painting en onderzoekt daarin nieuwe mogeljkheden van (collectief) schilderen. Spons formuleert voorwaarden en structuren om - individueel of collectief - intuïtief te handelen. In exposities combineert hj schilderjen, collages, assemblages, prints, sculpturen en ready-made objecten. Hj behandelt al deze dingen op een fundamentele manier. M A RT I J N I N ‘ T V E L D (NL) maakt sculpturen en schrjft teksten. Hj is geïnteresseerd in alledaagse voorwerpen en tracht hieraan een poëtische of ilosoische betekenis te geven. De relaties tussen persoonljke ervaring, alledaagse situaties en de wereld ‘at large’ spelen hierbj een belangrjke rol.


COLOPHON E X H I B I T I O N S PA CE Expoplu, Kunstenaarsinitiatief Paraplufabriek Njmegen CU R ATO R Bas van den Hurk T E X T ‘ A H O U D I N I AC T ’ Bas van den Hurk TEXT ‘THE CUCUMBER TEMPLE’ Martjn in ‘t Veld E D I TO R S Tyas Leeuwerink Katrein Breukers Maarten Spons DESIGN Alexander Smirnov


P H OT O G R A P H Y Walter Janssen Vakfotograie Willem Melssen Fotograie Adriano La Licata PRINT T H A N KS T O MFA AKV|St. Joost Stichting Expoplu

Edition /50 March 2015 Š


Danni van Amstel Katrein Breukers Tyas Leeuwerink Maud Oonk Mohadeseh Rahimitabar Maarten Spons