Square: performing in 3 different states of the USA. 2017
Having clear boundaries is said to
be essential to a healthy lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line
that marks those things for which we are responsible. Boundaries define who we
are and who we are not, what is ours and what is not.
In many countries, people put fences around their house to delineate the boundaries of their property. Hotel guests in resorts leave towels on their lounge chair while going for lunch, as claiming the chair as a personal property. As soon as someone puts a pole or a flag in the ground, it is a claim on a territory.
Spending time in immense desert
landscapes in the US, I had questions around property. Who does this belong to,
who looks after this? Can I freely walk around here? Or would this be
trespassing? There was a sense of unease and fear sometimes venturing into
these lands. and doing a land art installation
In 3 places in the US I staked out 10mx10m squares, using tent poles and thin red wool thread. The installation was rather small so that it could be surveyed easily. I used fragile materials that are temporary and non-interruptive. What counted is not the square as a piece of art, but the performance of making the square. After I made the installation, I left it behind. It is now up to nature and people walking by to determine its future.
My objective was not to put a claim on a piece of land, but to trigger questions. People passing such a construction could ask questions such as, why is this here? Will something be built here? Maybe they feel unease, or maybe they feel safer because someone has been there before. My intention with my performance is to invite them to reflect on themes such as property, ownership, … I was curious about the feelings that could be evoked by this installation. In one location, some locals observed me rather suspiciously. As soon as I told them that it was an art performance, they accepted my being there and felt more comfortable.
I selected 3 different locations, which were all in what could be considered "no one's land".
The first one is Bombay Beach in California, a old resort on the Salton Sea Rivera, that has become one of the poorest communities in California, filled with a multitude of decrepit buildings, odd housing structures and golf carts.
The second location was next to the White Place close to Abiqui, New Mexico. This high, stark-white rock formation surrounded by fine sand and seashells became known through paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe.
The third location was in a shad scale desert in Nevada after Montgomery Pass, along Highway 6, which used to connect the West Coast with the East Coast. I made the installation next to the plywood remains of a flattened cottage.
Another version of this work was
made during the exhibition "In search of a place and butterflies".
I put a banner on the floor in the midst of the exhibition space saying "NO TRESPASAR – DO NOT CROSS", as you can see in museums.