During our last Sunday' gathering at the Guestroom, Esmé Valk reflected on her ongoing project Zicht op Zalmhaven. At the same time, her aim was also to create a new situation in which a few different registers would pick up on the notions like audience, guest, participation, collaboration, each on its own way.
After the guests arrived they bagan introduce to each other and then took place at the table. The event began with the artist talking about her method of working, the ideas coming forth in her practice. She talked about how through the Zicht op Zalmhaven project her guests share their knowledge with her. How she transcribes their conversations and make books out of it. Finally, how she likes to observe the entire event, and distracts her guests by joining in in their conversations while actually preparing the dinner for them.
In her talk she included two important quotes that derive from two different conversations. Together with Marc we were asked to read them. One piece was about art either being able to solve the problems or not, the distinction between art and daily life...is there any? The other was speaking about performativity of life and people constantly playing their roles. After that Valk came to the point where she spoke about the place of the now - the Guestroom, its particular location and the domestic environment. She talked about it as "the ideal Zicht op Zalmhaven location" while also almost being a white cube.
What did we, the audience, encounter last Sunday afternoon? What have we seen? Were we a part of something that was unspoken?
Although the artist did not wanted to use a camera or even a voice recorder to capture the event, as if the people would start to act and react differently. Yet she sometimes took a leading role in the event and used her time to present the ideas that confussed the spectator and provoked him to doubt whether she is acting or not.
Esmé Valk preparing the meal on the evening before
Just before the opening, Esmé making the dough for easter bread rolls
First guests already at the table
Jay Tan (turned back) in loose conversation with our guests
ARTIST PRACTICE/HER TALK/THE PERFORMANCE
"There is a moment where a conversation over a meal takes place between two to four invited guests that don’t know each other but who share an interest in a topic which is also shared by myself."
Moment when me and Marc joined the performance through reading the pieces from Zicht op Zalmhaven books
"I no longer practice these game-like challenges but this approach to using the things around me became an integral part of living my life. It’s a way of doing things that uses the self-thought and the how-to; aspects that are also inherent in recipe transmission."
Making the easter bread rolls
Ania very proud of her chicken(?) bread roll
...while the rest of the guests still strugling
IN THE MEAN TIME WHEN THE DOUGH WAS IN THE OVEN
Esmé Valk invited Jay Tan to talk about her working method. In her presentation the artist explained what does mean for her to be ON or OFF.
"A recipe is a set of instructions which often allows for free interpretation by the executor. Usually one doesn’t have to follow it exactly, it’s a suggestion and method for sharing ideas that can bridge cultures and generations."
...exactly which bread creature is who's?
“(...)This place would be so much better if only it had an ocean view”. We thought of this as a very useful sentence that can be used in pretty much any situation. For example, to break an unwanted silence in conversation.*The sentence expresses a wish and allows for dreaming, you can imagine that by just running over those dunes, you’ll be splashing around in the ocean waves.But saying it draws the conversation back to the situation one finds oneself in, together with the other person. I want to share this how-to for any occasion with you today."
A creamy vegetables soup, I guess Valk would call it a tasty reward
Everyone at the table
*speaking about herself and her partner
All quotes in this post come from the text written by Esmé Valk on the occasion of "This place would be perfect if only it had an ocean view", and they were used under the permission of the artist.