Expoplu Exchange - Hopscotch
NB: The outcomes of the project will be shown on www.hopscotch.link from 23 January onwards.
“The world becomes the madman’s stranger, and he becomes perplexed about the non-foundations of existence” (translated from Filosofie van de Waanzin, 2014, p. 31). With these words Wouter Kusters describes how unsteady the perception of our regular daily life can be. Madness, he states, can drastically shift this perception. The participants of the second edition of Expoplu Exchange, our talent development project, have an intrinsic drive to alienate the ‘norm’ and the ‘normal’. They aim to uncover and unpack the absurdity of everyday life. Maarten Buser, Anna Gerrits, Pim Lohman, Daan Mulder, Jesse Strikwerda and Wanda Tiersma went on a collective journey, guided by Marieke Folkers with the assistance of Tessa Fröling.
The founding principle of Expoplu Exchange is stimulating cross-connections between disciplines, working methods and knowledge. In the case of ‘Hopscotch’, the multidisciplinary group delved into their cross-connections with an inherent curiosity about each other’s ways of working. In the midst of a pandemic they were forced to find a way to make the collective project work. This manifested in sending work to each other via mail. All participants started with their own individual sound fragment, processed textile, canvas, poem or installation. They passed it onto the next person, who continued the work by altering, destroying, or using it for something new, only to send it to the next again.
The group elevated this chain principle to the next level in a frantic “whirlwind of production”, in which everyone creates through action and reaction. Each piece is at the same time a beginning, break and ending. They wanted to force themselves towards a “state of folly”. To illustrate this with the words of Wouter Kusters, “the madman’s attempts […] do not come from primitive desire or disorder, but from high tension thinking, alike a pressure cooker of winding fascinating possibilities.” (Translated from Filosofie van de Waanzin, 2014, p. 32) Objects, images and sounds continually hopscotch from one person to another, to eventually be brought together and rearranged into an exhibition.
This collective process became an exploration of authorship and meaning. Each work conveys a polyphony of voices. ‘Polyphony’, a literary term coined by Mikhail Bakhtin, refers to the simultaneous utterance of multiple voices. In ‘Hopscotch’ the participants’ voices are non-hierarchical. With a constant hopping between individual articulations, a layered chain of meaning is at the core of each work and, hence, of the exhibition. During production the participants pour their thoughts, ideas and associations into the works. This abruptly stops when the exhibition starts. From that moment onwards it is up to the visitor to make sense of the artworks. What is the meaning applied by the makers and authors still worth then? According to Roland Barthes, the meaning of a text is given by the reader, and in this process the author is not of any importance. Contrary to Bakhtin, he believes when anyone could be speaking in fact no one is speaking, and calls it “the destruction of every voice.” (The Death of the Author, 1977, p. 142)
‘Hopscotch’ is a petrification of the group’s folly and frantic derailment, as if turned into stone. It invites us to ponder over the absurdity of everyday life. For instance with a ‘non-wall’ that seems like a wall but is everything a wall is not, with a punch-needled landscape enclosing a lifelike nipple that becomes trapped in wax, with a hyperfocus on something as ordinary as a shopping cart and headphones being accompanied by sounds of water or earplugs being kneaded.
The high-tension whirlwind has come to an end, and the rest is silence.
About Expoplu Exchange
In 2020 Expoplu has started a new pilot program, Expoplu Exchange. This talent development project offers space, time and means to young art professionals. The aim of the program is to stimulate the development of each participant’s individual practice in a collective framework, to provide a new network of peers and professionals, and to offer a dialogue with the public. Expoplu supports the participants through this trajectory on a practical, theoretical and financial level. Unique for the program is that the participants shape their own trajectory. Guest speakers are invited, who share valuable knowledge concerning the group’s ambitions and plans. The participants curate and organise their own final manifestation that fits the content of their process. Due to a diversity in practices, the participants have the possibility to make crossovers to other disciplines and learn from various backgrounds and approaches. Collective learning and exchanging knowledge are at the heart of Expoplu Exchange.
Maarten Buser is a poet and art critic. He writes for media such as De Lage Landen, Metropolis M and Gonzo (circus). His debut volume ‘Club Brancuzzi’ (Uitgeverij Koppernik) was published in 2016. In 2018 he won one of the base prizes of the Young Art Criticism Prize. His non-fiction book ‘Geertje van de Kamp. Een Nederlandse kunstenaar in Japan’ (Uitgeverij Waanders) has been published in November 2020. Furthermore he translated work by various English-speaking poets into Dutch.
Anna Gerrits chooses to stretch the day, so that three different lives can exist parallel to each other. Her curiosity as a common thread drives her. In the morning she opens up the world of artists and creativity for adolescents as a teacher. In the afternoon, she curls up in a comfortable chair as an art historian, to be inspired by poetry and art theory, only to blossom as a maker in the evening. She can immerse you in a bath of alienating sounds or confront you with the absurd magic of the everyday. She prefers to build bridges in places that seem unbridgeable and travels with you so that you can amaze each other.
Pim Lohman is a curious art history student at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. He is particularly interested in the way in which art is being brought to people. It was this interest that led him to work as Junior Director at the Villa Mondriaan museum in Winterswijk. In the time to come he hopes to study the relationship between art and the public, and the role of the artistic process in this.
In Daan Mulder’s view, human existence is completely insane: “We are predatory beings who are constantly looking for direction in our lives, but who naturally lack that direction; kind of like an arrow without a bow, or a trigger without a finger.” He thrives in this state of madness. It has become his mode of work. Armed with semi-functional sculptures from his studio, he playfully derails his thoughts and the sculptures seem to become an extension of himself. He places himself in absurdist scenarios as the protagonist of his own story, in which he tries to face the limits of the human condition. The result is a “healthy exercise in madness, in the form of a cinematic or performative sketch.”
Jesse Strikwerda creates installations and sculptures in which the manipulability of reality is central. Unraveling the layers of a constructed reality is the starting point for an exploration into the construction of an image. Constructions are pushed over, brought up, hidden and shown to an audience. Backdrops are hung in front of each other, as a concealment of the underlying structure, and then lifted again by the artist to provide the same structure with a stage. Elements from reality (building materials, party items, fabrics) are interspersed with images of them (drawings, comic-like elements and clay objects), creating an exciting play in which it becomes painfully clear in a playful way that everything can be built and destroyed.
Wanda Tiersma's work is about intimacy and physical contact. She wants to explore our ability to connect with each other and to become part of something bigger than ourselves. Humans are herd animals who thrive in cooperation. However, circumstances can block this innate ability and might lead us to forget how much we need it. She wants to remind people of this essential need, this human strength.