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The Placing
In progress 2019

The Placing (translated from Flemish De Zetting) is a collaborative sound work to be realized in the Brugse Poort in Ghent and is developed in collaboration with De Koer.

The Placing aims, in the weekend from 5 and 6 October, to fill the public space for two times an hour with the sounds of native and exotic bird species. When a large amount of people participate in this call, the stony streets of the Brugse Poort will be filled with a poetry that is both unknown and foreign to this environment.

Interested? Please read the information below or send an e-mail. Would you like to participate? Send your address and the name of the bird with a short personal notice why at: eestolk[at]

The idea for The Placing originated from my research: The Battle of Lice. As an artist and resident from De Koer I am looking for ways in which art can take a social position.

The Placing is inspired by 'finch sitting' which is part of traditional Flemish culture and shortly pronounced in Flemish as 'zetting' which means 'placing'. In a contest, a row of small cages, each housing a finch, is lined up along a street. Every time a bird sings a correct song —most often transcribed as susk-e-wiet—a mark in chalk is made on a long wooden stick. It is striking that not all finches sing the right song. Some finches sing exotic songs. Their songs are therefore not valid at Flemish competitions. In the Brugse Poort there used to be 'finch sittings' on the Groendreef and the Leiekaai.

De Vinkenzetting

In my opinion, this mainly family activity has beautiful similarities with the ways in which today the population structure or 'settlement' in the Brugse Poort is managed. Not all residents sing their "suskewiet" in the desired way. The bird is a striking symbol for the migration that suits this neighborhood so well. People from different backgrounds have found a home here. Some native 'birds' seem to disappear, which is called 'stads vlucht' and the city tries to avoid this.

When many residents join, a poetry is created that will be unkown and foreign to the stony streets of the Brugse Poort.

With this collective sound work in public space, I want to make the quality of diversity tangible. The experience that comes with The Placing aims to provide a surrounding where people can meet and listen to each other even if we do not fully understand what we hear.

In order to realize a powerful experience it is important that as many inhabitants of the Brugse Poort as possible play the birdsong of their choice for an hour on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October between 11 and 12 o'clock. Everyone knows a bird that suits his or her preference, memory or background. It is the intention of the work, that the bird sound that suits your house best, is played on a stereo inside and could be heard outside on the street. This can be done, for example, by opening the window a little or from the letterbox in the hallway. It is important that the sound comes from inside where it is private and mixes outside into the public sphere.

Because poetry is not measurable we do not count on a long black stick how long a complete and correct "suskewiet" sounds from the different houses. This arrangement of bird sounds aims to collectively give meaning to the Brugse Poort as a diverse whole. When many residents join in this ceremony, a poetry is created that will be unkown and foreign to the stony streets of the Brugse Poort.

Important dates:

25.04 presenting the idea at De koer
25.05 a visit to a 'finch sitting'(Borluut)
In June: a test placing
5.10 - 6.10 The Placing

This is how you can participate:

[1] Many bird sounds can be downloaded from the following website: xeno-canto bird sounds from around the world.

[2] Download the sound file in mp3 on a smartphone and play it in a loop with an app, or put it on a USB stick and play with a media player, or burn the file with a PC on a disk and play it in loop on a dvd player. Look for a form that suits your situation. If you need help with this, please send me an email.

[3] Sign up by sending an email with your address, the bird of your choice and a brief personal explanation. I will show all participants on this Google map.

[4] The Placing takes place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October between 11 am and 12 noon. Now it is the intention to place a chair (which is allowed to stand outside) an hour long in front of your door in the direction of the house. When you do not have a chair you only play the sound of the bird.

[5] Interested parties can quietly listen to the bird sound of your choice on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 October. When your neighbors also respond to this call, the streets will be filled with various bird sounds.

Can you help us?

Would you like to help us organizing this sound work? It would help us a lot if you spread the word about this initiative. We are also searching for people that want to support other participants in finding the right bird and sound file to play on their home stereo.

With this sound work I follow the concept behind #theorganisation and want to make knowledge and means available for initiatves that serve the society as a whole. Any tips or suggestions? Don't hesitate to contact me.

The Placing came under the attention from the following press:

The Placing is made possible by: De Koer

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images | video | de koer

Best regards, Edwin Stolk.

The image on this page is made with material form the internet and arranged by Edwin Stolk.