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Waiting In The Wings, often

november 11, 2009.

I asked Maja whether she might get me a typewriter.

hermes "I have a Hermes Media 3 ( * )," Maja told me.
"It is not too heavy, so that should be fine.
And we can make you a writer's corner, in the little 'chapel', the wooden house with the newspaper walls.
We then can take off the ones in the front so that people can see you better."

I began the writing of "Alle Geluid Van De Wereld" over the first weekend of october, as part of the second edition of Waiting in the Wings, a performancepark initiated, curated and realized by Maja Gehrig and Kaspar König in the Artspace Rondeel in Maastricht.
When I arrived at the Artspace on friday evening october 2nd, a wonderful little writing bin had been prepared for me. I was but to enter, hang up my hat and my coat and put a blank page into the machine ...

hars witw hars witw

I was looking forward to a laborious weekend, and a kick-starting for my foundtaping book, the writing of which I had been postponing for too long. By staging, as part of the Maastricht performancepark, a visual stereotype of the 20th century writer, I had wanted to provide myself with the right mind-set for writing. I also had imagined how the very characteristic sound of the machine - with its bell ceaselessly signaling the end of the line, again and again and again ... - would fit the Artspace's acoustics and overall atmosphere, and mingle with the other sounds and sound performances that would be part of the festival.

Short, my idea was to enter my Maastricht Artspace writer's corner every day, then sit down ... and write! ... for much of the day and all of the evening.

hars witw hars witw

But that was theory. Practice was different. My idea proved out to be pretty much incompatible with - at least - the Waiting in the Wings evening program. For on each of the three evenings, according to a detailed scenario emanating some of the precision of a handmade swiss clockwork, visitors were led three times along the many tableaux that were set up by the participating artists.

And there were lots of artists participaing. Several had come to the Artspace before and had already for days been working there, preparing their weekend contributions. Others came only for the festival, or even just for one or two days.

witw

Together they transformed the Artspace (which, as you may recall from some of my earlier Maastricht reports, already by itself is like a cabinet of curiosities' auto-morphing) into a Wunderkammer crammed with idiosyncrasies, fantasies, dreams and an occasional nightmare, materialized in the form of movements, words, paintings, camouflage, re-cycling, drawings, dance, disguise, actions, objects, sounds and visions. Evening by evening, round after round, Maja Gehrig and Vasiliki Tsagkari bathed, breathed, loved and lived within tons of (saw)dust, in From Dust till Dawn; the science fantasy shaped by Raquel Tapia in her Nanolaboratory Experiments took me back to my very early Maastricht schooldays, when I spent the bulk of my after school hours solving the mysteries of the universe ( *** ), and cooking up strange experiments (with much the same equipment as Raquel's) in a spare room up in my grandparents' house in the Jekerstraat; and in front of the black coal stove in another Maastricht house, the one in the Micastraat, one cold 1960s december Sinterklaas also for me overnight managed to set up a little train, just like the one that was running over the carpet of Simon Redfern's living room, in a performance - together alone with little Lara Line playing - that evoked the melancholic reflections of a recently divorced or widowed and not overly successful modern composer (all in the eye of the beholder, mind you :-) ...); ... and one of the highlights: Kate Donovan and Ryan Hardman's wondrous and meticulous 'shadow' plays (Twilight Claps and Thunders), projected from the depths within onto the window of a cabin; short and highly intriguing scenes that to me somehow felt like Japanese ...

witw witw
witw witw

Mirjam Aregger made us feel like soon-to-be pop stars in her daily Casting Show; Klaas Hübner performed with fine vintage oscillators and other equipment that in Berlin he had found in the streets (see the picture on the left above); Christian and Andreas Egli tattooed onto a pig's heart; "... drip, drip, bang, bang ..." ; little angelic Margarita Papazoglou solo danced and monologued from one of the Artspace's up-sides, and invited us to climb up the ladder and join her, in a veiled room; while in yet another corner Urs Brändlin had one of the Artspace's grand piano's look as if a meteor from outtaspace had just landed in its inside.

Outside in the yard, rock veterans Los Dancing Queens erected a scaffolding which was a pretty succinct summary of the Artspace's inside. Theirs was an awesome performance, unfolding under a sky looking as if any moment now it were to break open and unload a zillion tears, with a fierce undulating wind that relentlessly shook all the textiles, plastics and other 'junk' that was attached to the staging. It will be difficult to get much closer in these 00s of the 21st century to how it must have felt to be out tripping on the road with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters in the 60s of the 20th ... [ As a long time admirer and owner of a first US edition of Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, as well as the proud owner of the complete CDrom edition (burnt one by one and mailed to me by Ken Babbs himself) of Kesey, Babbs and Neal Cassady's original 1960s road recordings, I do feel I may be allowed a such observation ... ] Just a tiny little twinkle here, I'm almost completely serious, for I really loved Los Dancing Queens @ Waiting in the Wings, whose performance was entitled (sic) "The Alcheristic Search fort he pure Destilation of R'n R in the Apartment of Draft". (Well, I do suspect one or two typos here, but this is how it reads on my copy of saturday's "performance clock".)

witw

At the end of the Dancing Queens' noisy expi-indie rock rave there remained but the rhythmic buzzing of an old 'n' lonely electric guitar, which was attached up on the very top of the scaffolding, and played by the wind. It made me imagine an installation, where for the time of, say, at least one whole autumn week, each of the rooftops of the houses in one of the older streets in the center of Maastricht there would be topped by a guitar, all of them strummed by the wind and buzzing together...
The Jekerstraat, the street in Maastricht were I was born, would be perfect for this.

...

On saturday Rinus and Barbara passed at the Artspace, on their way to Heerlen. We staged a little private ceremony, in which I officially handed Rinus the result of this summer's Paris taperun, which he had initiated at the time of his last visit to the French capital, mid-june of this year. The tape was all over Paris. It surfaced at this summer's Placard, from where it somehow got over to Brussels. From there it was mailed back to Paris again, where, in my absence, Rébus gave it to Cosmo, who gave it to my son, who handed it to his mother, who then brought it along to Amsterdam, for me to - finally - take it to Maastricht and give it to Rinus who took it back to Berlin.

Here you see me firmly putting the quite elaborately packed cassette into Rinus' hands. Barbara made the picture with her iPhone.

taperun ceremony

...

Though the main ingredients stayed the same, each of the three evenings at Waiting in the Wings was different.
Saturday was the densest one, in terms of number of different performances as well as in numbers of visitors.
It was not the best of the three evenings, I think.
I liked Friday better. The 'swiss clock's ticking' was still being adjusted, and therefore the successive rounds came with a certain degree of improvisation and a number of 'accidents' that I actually quite liked.
Sunday I liked best. It was the least dense of the three evenings. There were less performances, fewer audience, and - maybe as a consequence, maybe (also) for other reasons - the presentations got more space, and all somehow now seemed to breath quite a bit more than they did on the previous two evenings. Or would that have been a mere impression caused by the relaxing visions I had inside Bonne Knibbe's vibrating mechanico-sonoric box? That was a kind of fantastic voyage, actually (though the box should have been just that little bit longer, for one to be able to stretch one's legs ....):

witw
witw

I liked the way that on sunday Kaspar's sound table (picture above) took the clock's center, turning along with the different tableaux, while adding sonification to many of them. Kaspar's sounds unified the great many different approaches, and as a result Waiting in the Wings that final evening became surprisingly coherent and suddenly seemed to arise as one thing, almost. Before a such pivot had been lacking, I think.
(It was also that sunday evening that I found Samuel Stoll's playing of his 'quadrophonically tubed tuba' particularly enchanting.)

witw witw

All three evenings - on friday, on saturday and on sunday - I switched on the light in my little writer's bin three times, once for each of three rounds. I then typed for, say, three minutes. There always was the bell at the end of every line. Some of the times the sounds of my typing were amplified by one of Kaspar's piezo's and led on through his mixing desk. At the end of my three minutes, I switched off the lights again, and the typing stopped.

It was great fun.
Not surprisingly, though, I did not manage to write an awful lot that weekend.
But it was a start.
It was.
Here's the first page that I wrote.
(You may click to enlarge it, and have an even closer look.)

There were not many more to follow.

hars witw

[ Related: torst's Flickr WitW picture gallery ]

...

Unfortunately we need to end this pretty enthusiastic report on a rather more disquieting note, as it is very likely that as of the beginning (!) of next year the Artspace will have to leave its current location at the Maastricht Rondeel: the building's owner is looking to find tenants that are financially stronger. ARM is desperately seeking sponsors or council support to help paying the quite substantial rent that will be due as of next year, or otherwise the Artspace will need to move on to elsewhere possibly leaving Maastricht altogether. It would be a pity, it really would ...

During a meeting of the Maastricht council commission "Breed Welzijn" on monday october 5th, dedicated to the city's ambition of becoming European Cultural Capital in 2018 (MCH 2018), Kaspar passionately pleaded for the town council's help in saving the Artspace and its functioning as a lively center for fringe and alternative culture. It was a pure coincidence that I was charged to write the minutes of that meeting, which sort of became an appendix to Waiting in the Wings. Here is - in Dutch - what became of Kaspar's words in the commission meeting's official minutes ...

"De heer Kaspar König, initiator van Artspace Rondeel Maastricht (ARM), presenteert het plan Cultural Capital 2018+. Dit sluit weliswaar aan op Maastricht Culturele Hoofdstad 2018, maar gaat vooral over cultuur en culturele netwerken in het algemeen. Hij beschrijft het door hem geïnitieerde ARM als de Maastrichtse schakel in een uitgebreid internationaal netwerk voor cultuurtransfer: plekken die, als culturele consulaten, een groeiende en dynamische groep kunstenaars en cultuurmakers, in voortdurende onderlinge uitwisseling, faciliteren en waar middels het stimuleren van onderzoek en experiment vanuit het reeds bestaande ook nieuwe vormen van kunst ontstaan. Als voorbeelden van culturele consulaten die nu al deel uitmaken van het netwerk van het Maastrichse ARM noemt hij Vooruit in Gent en het NK in Berlijn.
Hij wijst erop dat voor een stad die het ambieert Culturele Hoofdstad te zijn, dergelijke culturele katalysators onontbeerlijk zijn. In Maastricht is ARM al sinds drie jaar zo’n culturele katalysator, die een grote groep van internationale en lokale kunstenaars de gelegenheid biedt zich in vrijheid fysiek te manifesteren, in constante dialoog ook met de meer gevestigde culterele instellingen in de stad. De Artspace Rondeel Maastricht ziet zich op dit moment voor het probleem gesteld dat voor het verdere gebruik van de ruimte aan het Rondeel door de eigenaren een huurbedrag gevraagd wordt dat ver boven de draagkracht en het budget van de gebruikers ligt. De heer König vraagt of de gemeenteraad op enigerlei wijze mogelijkheden ziet om vanuit de gemeente ARM te helpen haar werkzaamheden voort te zetten (door financiële steun om de huidige lokatie te kunnen blijven gebruiken, of door het ter beschikking stellen van een alternatieve lokatie) om zo dit initiatief als ‘culturele broedplaats’ voor Maastricht te behouden."

maastricht commissie

notes __ ::
(*) Hermes was a Swiss manufacturer of typewriters. I saw the 'Media 3' described as a "heavy duty swiss steel portable typewriter, featuring an 88 character keyboard, a 10 inch platen, full tabulation and an aluminum light weight case". The machine Maja gave me, the one in the picture, seems to be rather a 'Hermes 3000', a series from the late 1950s, early 1960S; but I'll leave that to the experts. Here is a link to a swiss collector's page with a lot of Hermes typewriters. [ ^ ]
(**) In reverse chronological order, see e.g. parts of: Cover thyself (july 2009), Playing the popular classics (june 2009), A block with a name (april 2009) and Raudio Graffiti: almost live! (june 2008) [ ^ ]
(***) Trying still ... still trying, but time's running out ... [ ^ ]

tags: Maastricht, found tapes, Artspace Rondeel

# .336.

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