Work in Progress – Group 1


Rosa Sijben
Saumin Lad
Frederica Natalia Rosati
Karen Ernst
Katie Dent
Louise Claeys


Armelle Tardiveau
Marianne Theunissen

Report by Group 1: Fragment! Fragment!
Bologna with its strong characteristics was a  piercing contrast to the exhibition space at Front of House which seems anonymous, face-less and could be in any other town or city. To fill that gap between this contrast and not to work mainly with photography or film – which would be quite natural – was going to be one of our non-outspoken goals.

As a first step everybody felt that we had to get involved with the city and get to know it better. A pentagonal shaped tile found at the dome near Front of House was our starting point. Drawing the outlines of the tile onto the map of Bologna, which had almost the same shape. Walking or cycling along these lines was one of the first tasks we set up but this was in the end, too rigid and excluding. It was perhaps too conceptual a starting point, as many other things caught our attention, such as courtyards and, characteristic of Bologna, the arches that gave the feeling of a private public space on the daily walks underneath them.

Our group’s interest began to be more specific as time passed and many group meetings were held. We soon were aware of he fact that the Intensive Programme held the challenge that all the participants were neither tourists nor inhabitants of Bologna, creating a particular context. During intensive conversations and by reflecting on these subejcts, we formulated some questions:

    1. What is a souvenir?
    2. What memories are fragments conserving?
    3. What is left from interventions in the city?
    4. How do I move as an inbetweener, perhaps even a living obstacle and how do I get absorbed by the city?
      What is left at the end?

We presented a preformance as part of the work in progress. The performance was initally hard to understand as we did not perform on a stage or pedestal. We were standing in the crowd reading out loud our gathered thoughts on our group’s subjects and experiences of Bologna and Front of House. These thoughts we felt were connected to eachother by characteristic words in which our group was interested in thoughout the whole group work. It was our intention to stand in the crowd just as we have seen ourselves in Bologna. Of not outstanding or overlooking Bologna from a higher viewpoint but being aware that we were during those two weeks among the city, it’s inhabitants, buildings and objects fitting in but then again not quite fitting in.

Louise and Katie started to make delicate casts from parts of buildings they were intrigued by during their walks through the city in a very quick and efficient method by using aluminum foil, tape, newspaper and glue. These casts, brought to Front of House no longer showed the specificness of the buildings, pillars or columns they were taken from, but were anonymous pieces who’s original shape could not be determined by the viewer. The main material used was printed newspaper and this  blurred the shape of the casts and brought in a material which both Louise and Katie were interested in through their previous research. They were tracking down ‘ghost architecture’, remainders of ancient archtecture built into new buildings. These ghosts were sometimes only to be seen by the different arrangement of the bricks. The blurring of the casts and their fragility set the meaning of a cast at absurdum. They became independent objects without being bond to the original architecture.

Karen collected the remains of posters (tape and small paper scraps) which had already been torn off walls arround the city, and in this manner left a gap in meaning and information but gained an individual existence. By peeling off the tape the surfaces, such as paint from walls and boards, were torn off too, so a part of the city was also taken by this action. Some sections had been overlapped over time, so little sculptural objects were created by coincidence and time.

Federica was intrigued by the memory of smell and fragrants throughout the city. Sometimes one would pass through a nice delicious smell and then turning round the corner it would merge with the striking smell of pee or other unattractive smells. Here she was interested in the fact that smells or fragrants merged, no matter wether they went together or not. In the final presentation she translated this fact into an installation and brought objects together which at first sight would not fit together at all but making use of these objects through performance (dripping icecream onto a rusty ladder squirting detergent onto an old board and tieing the bottle to it in an balanced way) had it’s own legitimacy within the installation.

Another other tempoaral and memory related branch of interest was that of being part of city as a whole but, then again not fitting in and being a stranger, no matter how hard the efforts. This was manifested in the subject of obstacles, living obstacles, invisible spaces marked by lines of tape on the sidewalk. This aspect was also explored when one of the group visited local dancing and aerobic classes.

By experimenting and examining the fluidity of the passers – by reacting or not reacting to the obstacle (once kids playing under the arcades, another Federica marking a space around her by tape). Days later there were still the lines of tape on the ground but for the passersby they became invisible. They were walking right through the marked space, the remaining marks became obsolete but still were there. Saumin worked on the translation of these observations into a concentrated sculptural object that would highlight the fluidity of the passersby when reacting to obstacles. The obstacle itself was a pile of ice positioned into the middle of a pentagonal shaped map of Bologna. The ice melted, the obstacle shrunk through time and the map of Bologna was soaking up and the water flooded off the map onto the ground at Front of House. In the end one could see a puddle in which the map of Bologna was lying – the borders became blurred and the vanished obstacle merged with the plinth.

Rosa participated in many dance and aerobic classes and filmed herself taking part in them, creating a final video from the edited sections. At first she apears to be an anonymous subject like all of the other participants, trying to do the same choreography by watching the others and trying to remember the steps. However as the veiwer continues to watch it becomes obvious that she does not seem to fit in. She is a stranger and has the least knowledge of the steps. She is observing the others and trying to do the same -  and somehow looks different. But by wearing the same outfit during the whole classes, she gets more and more familiar to the viewer. An interesting change ermerges while watching the video, she as the stranger and at first the one most unfitting, gradually becomes the most familiar to the viewer. As obstacle or stranger she gets more and more familiar and at the end is completely intergrated.