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Nienke Scholts



Národní Divadlo, Throughout town, Walk through Prague

Photo: Tineke de Lange
Talking in Town 1
Photo: Tineke de Lange Talking in Town 1
A few preliminary thoughts on Talking in Town 1.
The group with headphones.
The city.
Other people, without headphones.
We are inside. They are outside.
If I take off my headphones I am
not part of the walking talk anymore.
From the other side of the street
I see a group walking in silence.
All very concentrated, attention inward.
In front a boy with a flag.
Two people with a microphone occupied in conversation behind him.
As a group we are clearly visible.
What is happening for us, what we
hear and see, is invisible to others.
The headphones create the frame
for us to hear and see other things.
We walk. Moderator Tobias Kokkelmans speaks with Maiju Loukola,
curator from Finland.
She says that in the public space performances
or artistic frames often remain invisible,
as people do not recognize ‘what they see’.
inside / outside
visibility / invisibility
reversing, redirecting,
Artists speak about their work
in terms of
invisibility, blurry, non-art,
throw away, non-material,
the unexpected
It is all in a way ‘viral’.
Something you cannot touch
but that could spread itself
like a virus.
Be it in the minds of people
that witnessed it.
Or as fact, as image, as thing
that travels.
The prostrate bodies of Julian Hetzel
pop up in different locations.
The work of Florian de Visser intervenes
in an already existing cycle
that he, as it were, infects.
He reveals the stories
behind that process.
The group does not have to see the moderator or the artist who is being interviewed.
Their voices communicate so directly via the headphones that they become a soundscape for
the surrounding city.
The group walks behind them, but starts to linger more and
more. People walk in front, on the other side of the street, further down the street.
Forming and reforming their own constellation,
their own choreography.
Limited to several meters as the sound doesn’t reach too far.
The walk, the talk, the interventions
raise a lot of questions concerning spectatorship, about seeing,
witnessing, responsibility.
In public space, seeing something seems to be much more about witnessing then about spectating. Also, when you recognize the artistic frame you ‘happen to see’ it. That makes us a witness; it appeals to us. How do we react? What is our own way of ‘acting’ in public space? What is our own ‘act’? What is our responsibility? These are a few of the general questions raised. It makes us aware again of being political creatures.
The headphones add many layers to the experience of the surrounding world.
One becomes very aware of the multiple layers of sound, that are already and
always there, but because more layers are added, they seem amplified in a way. Not only the voices of the moderator and the interviewees can be heard, but also a soft background music. In addition, the sound of the city seeps through the headphones.
When we stand in some weird inbetween space beneath the square of the Národní Divadlo theatre complex, there are literary several layers of sound. From the square above, the road below, a woman singing somewhere, the music and voices in the headphone, etc.
Martijn Engelbregt
asks us to stand, close our eyes
and to listen to all the layers of sound.
There is not so much emphasis on what needs to be said anymore.
We become even more conscious of our surroundings and as a consequence, more part of it.
Maiju Loukola says that she experienced the sound moving around,
taking over the shape of the space she was in.
Rhythm. Script.
Patterns of a place.
The unexpected.
Scripts in places, spaces, and heads.
Some artworks are an invitation to use another script.
Another gaze, perspective, thought, another way.
Where can it, or does it, go wrong?
If you twist or add other scripts to the existing one,
if you infect the streets with some kind of virus,
if you challenge people to follow that script,
what can possibly happen?
The end of a performance in public space is unknown.