April 15th-May 6th, Pecsbagota Residency.
Feelings are not like facts. They can never be verified. Trying to visualize a feeling, you will always be moving in circles. The coming three weeks I will be artist in residence at POST 15 in Pecsbagota, SW Hungary. Time to rethink and rework my earlier projects on the ephemeral concept of "home".
April 16th - From window to window.
In somewhat older Dutch houses you will find next to the front door a little window. More often than not it's open. In the old house I grew up in, there was not such a window, as our toilets were placed in the center of the house. But still they had this little window, which proved to be very practical. You could always see, whether the place was free or you should better wait.
In my "home" in Pecsbagota the little window looks out on another little window. This view takes me back to the old house. Perhaps the purpose of this residency? It is Easter Sunday - a good day to make a new start. The coming weeks I intend to try a new approach to my old topic - what does it take to feel "at home". No plan in my head, no road set out. Who could imagine the start of this project would be the little window. Where does it go from here? Everyday a new day breaks....
April 17th - Eastern memories.
My oldest memory from Eastern is a small white/red striped net from cotton with a few chocolate eggs in colored staniol - one egg bigger than the others. Also a large pink sugar egg and an orange. I can see the image of the net very vividly, especially the orange. It must have been 1948/1949. I assume in those days getting an orange was still something very special. Who gave me the net I cannot remember.
This was the first image that came back to me, when I found this Eastern postcard in an empty house, three steps away from where I stay in Pecsbagota.
April 18th - Good times, bad times.
Yesterday I found in the abandoned house this album. Empty except for the transparant corners from times gone by. Were the pictures taken and the album forgotten?
I also had albums just like tis one. But the last time I moved, I threw almost all away. Only a few photo's I kept. But now – confronted by these obsolete pages - my memory starts filling the empty corners. I am forced to remember images long forgotten. Good times, bad times - no arbitration. We are not the master of our memories.
April 19th - Just imagine.....
Just imagine waking up every morning with this quality of light...
I am here in this tiny village to work on a project on the ephemeral feeling of "home". All my interiors were attempts to grasp that feeling, but now I am looking for a different approach.
I visited the abandoned house several times and I can see the simple "beauty" of it. The people who lived there must have embraced the house and vice versa. But for me, could this be "home" - I doubt it. But then - why not - what is it, that's lacking.
In the house I am in now I am very attentive. When I walk around I keep watching the light. My hart jumped up a bit yesterday morning. I looked again today, but it was not there. Was it only the surprise of this fist happy encounter - no, I could catch it with my phone.. But it certainly takes more for a house to befriend you, before you can start calling a place your home.
April 20th - No Man's Land.
Stepping over (never on) a threshold is an act with great meaning. In one seemingly insignificant step you move in two opposite directions - in- and outside. Two different worlds separated by this minimal rectangle with no attribute other than not belonging to either side.
In 2002 I constructed the word HEMWEH - a tilted palindrome on the crossroad of a number of northern languages. Which side I move, I will always be in limbo. In the same period I wrote the sentence:"Ich möchte, ich hätte ein Heimweh (I wished I could be homesick)".
Although for centuries my roots are in all corners of this northern geographical area, I do not belong in any part of it. But neither in bordering- or other countries. Wherever I stay, I feel an outsider. It is an easy step to cross over the threshold. But it is simply impossible to call No Man's Land" Home".
April 21st - Secret sanctuary.
It was very cold yesterday and the misted windows made my world all at once much smaller. My working room is warm and cosy, but I missed the tree and the road up into the forest. My house has several rooms, but I instantly liked this one best. The old wooden floor is very attractive, but I fell for this view - an old tree, a yellow bridge and a bending road, that my mind can follow as far as my imagination. I think how different the tree will be in three weeks time. It is a mulberry tree. How much fruits will it bear in autumn. I have walked the road uphill into the vineyards - there the romantics of a humble beauty.
Arvo Pärt - the Estonian composer - spoke in a radio interview with great affection about the old house of his grandma. He had spent many happy summers in that cottage, hidden in the sand dunes on the shores of the Baltic. How he had made his fond memories of her and the house into his secret sanctuary. And - when lack of time kept him from traveling - reminding the sound and smell of washing waves and salty air was enough to revitalise his inspiration.
April 22nd - The green green grass of home.
I was born on the coast of the Northern Sea. The first years after the war parents had neither time nor money to take their kids on vacation. So me and my two elder brothers spent our whole summer on the beach. Years and years later I still had not felt summer, if I hadn't tasted salt on my skin. Nowadays I prefer walking for hours. I do my most creative thinking, when I am out - alone - on a forest trail.
The hills and small vineyards around Pegsbagota are no area's of outstanding beauty. I walked up this evening to look for the abandoned houses, the villagers had told me about. But the ravage of time had hit them too hard. In the last rays of sunlight I found my way to the end of the road. There the grass is always greener.
April 23rd - The playful art of practical decoration.
The farm culture along the western border of Eastern Europe is often very colorful. But also in China flower decorations on whatever materials have always been very populair. I saw many tapestries with wildlife decorations on both sides of the Finnish border. But - to my great surprise - in a yurt on the grasslands in Inner Mongolio an enormous stag on a kings blue background almost jumped at me on entering. What have we lost in middle class Europe, now we put so much value on following trends with a certain level of sophistication. Why can't we simply show what we like, instead of who we want to pretend to be.
This little hallway is not only practical - it is still too cold to put the seedlings out in the vegetable garden - but at the same time it is very welcoming. What you see, is what you get.