13 October 2016

State of the City

Contradictions and conflicts within urban structures are central to Stijn Van Dorpe’s art. The city serves as a field for experiencing and experimenting with social and cultural discrepancies. Van Dorpe uses temporary interventions in particular to reveal the human subject’s position within the urban structures he is subjected to and to overcome them with the aid of performative transgressions of limits and restructurings.

During his three-month artist residency Stijn Van Dorpe engaged with the neighborhood and city district of Tarwewijk in south Rotterdam, where he lived and worked for the length of his residency. His film “Shortcut Tarwewijk” documents a performance, for which neighbors and interested others were invited to take part in a walk through the district that is strongly influenced by migrants and largely accommodates the workers of the local docks. Starting from his studio in the port and industrial area, the artist conducts the participants through the district in a straight line—down streets, across squares, and literally through living rooms, schools, churches, youth and cultural centers. His district walk, with glimpses into both private and public spaces, offers a vivid cross section of the area and its social relations. From religion and culture to the personal realm, the performance gives a direct, authentic look into the everyday lives and worldviews of the district and its inhabitants. While “Shortcut Tarwewijk” documents the performance, in the film “Voices” the conversations and interviews with residents that preceded it are recited and recontextualized. Selected passages from the interviews are read by school children in a recording studio during a singing workshop. The contents of the passages and their reproduction by the children reveals the gulf between the views and experiences of the interviewees and the children’s worlds of experience. With lightness the children read out or rhythmically sing the sometimes drastic utterances of the Tarwewijk residents-interviewees, playfully integrating them in their musical efforts.

Christin Müller

photos installation view: Günther Dächert