ArtEZ University of the Arts
Text by Jessica Renfro
The festival is over, the festival is gone, but I still remember that wild night fondly. I so wish you could have been there to see it with me. It took place on a crisp October evening at the Arts University in Arnhem, The Netherlands, and because of the ongoing pandemic, the crowd was rather exclusive.
They arrived alone or in pairs and wore cloth masks to prevent contagion. It was rather heartening, I daresay, to see such conformity in light of the revelry and chaos that ensued! You see, my dear, the evening revolved around an examination of 'rules', both external and self-imposed, and placed the visitors in a state of confusion and lawlessness that could only be resolved through self-regulation.
It was a relatively risky prospect, and I did have my doubts about what such an evening could provide beyond a sort of hedonistic chaos, but now that I look back on it, I find that my memories have adopted a dream-like quality, and I can't at all distinguish where my experience ends and my imagination begins...
Enclosed you will find some photographs, as well as some cassette tapes recorded during the event. I have also included some accounts of other visitors, so that you might not think me mad, my darling—or at least, that I have engaged in a collective madness towards collective ends.
I entrust you to keep this
As I entered, a round, red sticker was placed on my hand. At the time I thought nothing of it. Then I saw this poster. Was I now part of this piece? I found the thought unsettling. Then I started to see the red dots everywhere...
It has to start somewhere, Peim van der Sloot
But as I read further, I realized
the rules were nothing but the insane ramblings
of passersby—a laundry list of desires, grievances, and gibbering nonsense.
I looked to the arrows on the floor to guide me to my next destination, but they swerved about drunkenly, sending me in dizzy circles…and ultimately, into darkness…
Next to the poster hung a lonely piece of bread, loosely suspended from a thin metal wire, sadly shedding crumbs onto the floor. Was this a clue? It surely wasn't art. Yet as I gazed at it, a disturbing thought occurred to me.
A young woman caught my eye
from across the room. She held my
gaze as she slowly stained her fingers with blood red ink. I saw her smile slightly beneath her mask as she reached forward to leave bloody marks on the photographs lining the wall. I gasped aloud. Did she just destroy a work of art? No…the act somehow felt more significant. The women in the pictures represented the matriarchal lineage of the artist. Was this some dark ritual? A curse? As I approached, I saw the work was titled Me, and as I left my own fingerprint there, I started to wonder exactly who the artist was referring to...herself or me?
I stepped backward, and happened upon a list of rules written in bold red and black
letters. Perhaps I had stumbled onto the key to navigating this space. I sighed in
relief, because the mood was becoming increasingly wild...
I found myself wedged behind a thick, black curtain. On the wall, I could just make out a sinister face and two
chess pieces, the queen crowned with arrows, brimming
with potential maneuvers.
But she, like I, felt more constrained
by these possibilities than freed by them, and thus remained stubbornly, agonizingly glued to the wall.
Option Constraints, Digz