Collaborative project with Diane Steverliynck, resulting in a free construction system.
Outlines (construction system and video)
Construction system — Dimensions: various / Materials: ash wood / Production: Galerie Valerie Traan / Year: 2012
Video — Duration: continuous / Format: HD video / Year: 2012
As a child talking with my parents or witnessing their mutual conversation, now and then in the stream of words and sentences I detected a previously unheard combination of sounds. Suddenly there was a word that did not refer to something that I knew, but that presented itself to me as a succession of sometimes primitive, at other times sophisticated sounds. To answer my curiosity, my parents usually sat down with me and enhanced my understanding by using objects, images, gestures, small drawings and less complicated words. But sometimes, because of a lack of time or patience, because I was too young to understand, or because, even with all the tools available, they still could not make themselves clear, the word remained in the world of sound. ‘Springtide’, ‘migraine’ and ‘taxes’ were some of the words on the list. Although initially I was disappointed that their meaning was withheld from me, the hint of mystery that surrounded these words soon started to tickle my imagination.
Without any doubt, one of the most evocative words was ‘provisoir’ (provisionally). It was the elegant word my mother used when she gently attached a handkerchief to my elbow after I had fallen. It was the word my father slowly pronounced when he put together a desk from a door and eight filled cardboard boxes after we moved. To me it was the magic spell that solved all our problems.
‘Provisoir’ was the word that popped up in my mind when, for the first time, I visited the house of Diane Steverlynck, the French-speaking designer I was to work with on the project later to be called Outlines. On her terrace I saw an eggcup used as an ashtray. In the bathroom, the showerhead and faucet served as a clotheshorse. It made me think of my own desk, where a dictionary functions as a bookend, and of the tall narrow closet in our bathroom that has long proved its usefulness as a clothes hanger. These are just samples of situations in which she and I had no time, energy, motivation or means to provide a definitive answer to what came our way.
You use whatever is available in the house. Sometimes you play around and create something with the things you find: sticks, poles, boards… When you are finished you are proud of your ability to make something of so little. You have made the outline of something. The result is rudimentary but the chief features are there: you can let go of something you wanted to hang; you can find a spot for something you wanted to put down. And you hope it will work, at least for a while. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. If it does, time goes by. Maybe one day you stand in front of the thing which you once called ‘provisoir’, and the spell is broken. You might think: I should finally look for a better solution. You might also look at it and say: I’m used to it now, it’s not so bad, I even kind of like it. Or maybe the spell persists, you keep walking by and continue using the thing without ever paying close attention to it again.