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7, 14 and 29 June 2014
“The power of a way of thinking has above all to do with its ability to move.” From: 'The philosopher and his poor' by Jacques Rancière.
24/7_Trojan was initiated after an invitation by artist and curator Stijn Van Dorpe and supported by artist initiative Expoplu which is based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
This project started in January and ended 29 June 2014. During this difficult visualization process many people contributed active as well as passive to the visual outcome of this research, its possibilities and impossibilities unravelled structures of power and direction of thinking. The process revealed the limitations of an subsidised art institute when it comes to facilitate visual experiments in public space. (more details you can read here.)
24/7_Trojan knew many stages, it started with my fascination for an unreachable little park in the middle of a large roundabout called 'Het Keizer Karel plein'. My idea was to organize with citizens and their cars a visual referendum on 14 June at precisely 3 pm. Presented to an audience as a participatory play from behind the large windows of the City Theatre facing the roundabout. This work aimed to investigate and explore the possibilities of a citizen dialogue with the everyday environment.
If you were in favour of discussing the current situation of the roundabout you were asked to take it as your destination by car and drive around for one hour. If you were fine with the current situation you ignored my call to participate. The concept behind this theatre had the characteristics of a DDos attack. When enough people would join, its function would be taken offline and the material presence of cars would facilitate an easy crossing by foot. My aim was to organize a civil dialogue with this specific surrounding and a research after the potential of participation.
In close agreement with the people of Expoplu I wrote a letter to Henk Beerten 26 February 2014, he was the alderman of Culture, Mobility and Education for the municipality of Nijmegen. My poposed intervention was rejected by the municipality and communicated to me in a phone call by an administrator. The decision was confirmed later by a letter on 12 March 2014. My request for a conversation in person, where I could explain my intentions was rejected.
After this, my research continued and developed in different directions. I started focussing on the different possibilities for the individual that uses this space and examined our relation and loyalty towards this particular roundabout.
The crossing became an important title and metaphor, it not only referred to the name of the new bridge in Nijmegen and its history, but also to other times to come, or even more literal to the difficult crossing by foot to reach the little park in the middle.
24/7_Trojan consisted out of three public moments on- and around Het Keizer Karelplein in Nijmegen:
- 7 June - The exchange took place at 3pm in the little park. Public meeting where invited experts; Mariska van den Berg, Joost de bloois and Aglaée Degros gave presentations reflecting on the context of this project, related to the use of this roundabout and the design of this city surrounding. The audience had to cross the street to attend the lectures.
- 14 June - The crossing took place at 10:30am in front of City Theatre Nijmegen. A group crossing facilitated a possibility for elderly and disabled people to reach the park. From behind the large window of the City theatre you could watch the group as they were crossing the street as an extra layer, asking questions about active and passive spectatorship. In the park art historian Feico Hoekstra told us more about the statue of Charles the Great made by the artist Albert Termote (1887 - 1978)
- 29 June - Discussion at Expoplu. Here I presented a report of the realization process and art critic Lucette ter Borg moderated a public discussion with local politicians from Green Left, VVD and D66 about this difficult realization process and the role of art in contemporary society.
In the exhibition Subject from 13 June till 29 June I presented the following statement on the white cube wall:
As an artist I was forbidden by the municipality of Nijmegen to organize a visual referendum.
Now it is up to you to organize it, for example on Saturday 18 October 2014 at 11 am. If you are in favour of innovation and renewal of het keizer Karelplein you take it for one hour that day as destination with your car. When you arrive there you don't step out of your car, you don't make extra noises, you drive around for one hour. As with a DDos attack you take its function 'offline' and facilitate with enough participants the crossing. If you want to leave everything the way it is you ignore this message.
From January till June 2014 an online research archive was established:
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Best regards, Edwin Stolk.