WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
bouwmeesterstraat 3, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
From 26/03/2017 to 26/03/2017
"An amount of blue glow-in-the-dark pigment is poured onto the ground. It marks a spot on the floor that lights up in a blueish hey whenever the light switches off suddenly.
Here I will try and discuss how this can function as an artwork with three levels of difficulty:
• LEVEL 1: Ectoplasm
• LEVEL 2: Business Hours
• LEVEL 3: Occupy
LEVEL 1: ECTOPLASM
In Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz attempted to hold Slimer by himself, but the ghost escaped through a wall, charged at Peter Venkman, and covered him in ectoplasmic residue.
In Poltergeist a family discovers that the the children's bedroom closet is an entrance to an other dimension, while the exit is through the living room ceiling. In an attempt to rescue her daughter Carol Anne, the mother passes through the entrance, tied by a rope that has been threaded through both portals. She manages to retrieve Carol Anne, and they both drop to the floor from the ceiling, unconscious and covered in ectoplasmic residue. As they recover, a medium proclaims afterward that the house is now "clean".
In short ectoplasm is what stays behind. It's tangible, physical evidence of a presence. It's a marker for something unknown that once was here. It's also a hoax.
LEVEL 2: BUSINESS HOURS
Art is often willingly made to fit into the pattern of the office hours, indicating it indeed accommodates a business model of post-fordist capacity.
Here, as visiting time stretches way beyond the reasonable, a moment that doesn't exist is described. When it's daylight saving time, the hour between 2:01 and 2:59 evaporates as we jump from 2:00 to 3:00.
Pushing heavily on the goodwill of the initiative, the participant as well as its audience, it wants to approach this idea of availability in an unwarranted, almost aggressive manner.
Also coffee is served.
LEVEL 3: OCCUPY
Again in the movie Ghostbusters, a team of paranormal scientists move to a derelict building in New York (and also drive a broke-down heresy), because they are exiled from official research. It's only in this abandoned building they are allowed to stay, right up until some city official again tries to evacuate them and unleashes hell on earth (albeit eventually in the form of a marshmallow man).
An end of the 19th century building is a burden on the city and on city planning. It can't be demolished, renovation is extremely expensive and designation is almost impossible due to our overdeveloped comfort standards. So it stays unoccupied and wears down.
And then in a brilliant move, it gets assigned to a private company by the city council. The goal is to look for temporary tenants, who can be evicted at any moment and are willing to give up all rights. Artists are grateful clients and art gets to occupy it now.
It's all part of an elaborate and refined blueprint planning. A rational planning movement after the industrial revolution that emphasized the improvement of the built environment based on key spatial factors. Examples of these factors include: exposure to direct sunlight, movement of vehicular traffic, standardized housing units, and proximity to green-space. To identify and design for these spatial factors, rational planning relied on a small group of highly specialized technicians, including architects, urban designers, and engineers. Other, less common, but nonetheless influential groups included governmental officials, private developers, and landscape architects. Through the strategies associated with these professions, the rational planning movement developed a collection of techniques for quantitative assessment, predictive modelling and design. Due to the high level of training required to grasp these methods, however, rational planning fails to provide an avenue for public participation. In both theory and practice, this shortcoming opened rational planning to claims of social insensitivity.
In a moment of self-indulgence, we like to think it's the artist being controlled. Except, it is actually much worse. It's the artist being instrumentalized, even deputised, as the controller. This is the exact opposite of the possibilities of an occupation. You can't designate to an occupation. This is not a free space, but a space that needs to be controlled and what better way to do it than by art. It is under surveillance by art. And the art can be cleaned out when it's not needed anymore. It will comply, it won't even resist as it is hard to resist against something you agree with.
So here, at an impossible hour, glow-in-the-dark pigment is poured onto the ground of a building marked for renovation as part of yet another city upscaling project. It will disperse and become a permanent part of the building, for long after art was allowed to occupy it. A foreign agent, a poltergeist, a remnant that will remain and become visible every time the lights go off suddenly.
It might be a moment to be critical of certain types of urban planning. It might also be a way to bite the hand that feeds."
related work: ECTOPLASM