Locations: Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL), Paulushofje in Etten-Leur (NL) and in backyard in Yogyakarta (Indonesia)
Year: 2009 – 2011
‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ is a project in which art, dance and music are combined to a performance. The project was partly developed during a workperiod from the 19th of April until the 22nd of May 2010 in Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL).
During ‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ a ricecarpet is destroyed as well as created by dance. A ricecarpet is a carpet made of several organic materials such as rice, beans and lentils.
‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ was created by Sabine Bolk (ricecarpet) in collaborations with Barbara van Kooten (dance), Chester L. Brandes (classical guitar), Koen de Wit (clarinet), Dirk Elst (percussion) and Berk Aarts (light). It was performed in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (the try-out) in 2009, in Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL) in 2010 and in Etten-Leur (NL) in 2011.
When I was throwing out the leftover cooked rice for the birds, I stopped in my tracks and thought: I’m an artist, I should make something, not just throw it on the grass like this. I just graduated after spending 4 more months at the Art Academy to re-doing all my work to get a diploma. I exhibited my paintings a couple of times and was preparing to go on a little art-tour adventure. I wasn’t really thinking of starting a whole new way of working, but it just happened.
I went inside and boiled a bag of rice and cut a template out of a placemat. I remember making flower after flower on the grass, just repeating to create a pattern. When I was almost done, I spotted my neighbour looking out of their bedroom window. When our eyes met she made the “You are crazy” hand-gesture. I haven’t stopped making my so-called ricecarpet after that and I hope to make many more crazy, temporary Artworks!
“A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value, a term used especially to describe those who scavenged this way in London during the late 18th and 19th centuries”
Looking for a subject for the E:collective exhibition ‘Experiencing change/Changing experience’ at ONCA in Brighton (UK), I found a subject very close to home. I recently moved to Utrecht (NL) with my boyfriend. Our new garden was almost entirely paved, so the first thing we did was taking out tiles. The ground under the pavement was a mixture of sand and a lot of debris. Pieces of concrete, bricks, but also tiles and even bits of porcelain. I became fascinated and with every dig or after rainfall, I would scan the garden for new pieces.
The scanning didn’t stick to the garden, I started noticing bits of debris in sandy paths in parks in the city as well. Where were these pieces of tiles and porcelain coming from, I wondered. I googled, looking for debris in gardens, and soon found out that the debris of demolished houses was commonly used to lay under newly build houses, and roads. My search brought me even closer to home, my father recently retired from working over 25 years in the construction of roads….
With three sponsored sample-bags filled with Recycled Demolition Waste Masonry Aggregate, I started my work at ONCA. Sorting through the pile I created a carpet that grew naturally in a selected order. In 5 days time the pile became a little smaller, but I didn’t sort through all the material. It was nice to noticed how vistors responded to the work. They understand it immediately and where fascinated by the colourful pits and pieces that came from the grayish looking pile. They were surprised that this was one (or more) houses and recognized or asked what parts where. The biggest surprise and my challenge was making them want or appreciate the material again. And they did. The waste was turned into something that looked pretty, something people wanted to have or make it last. A balance between what was once trash intended to hide and what now was art in full display.
Location: Different locations in province Zeeland (NL)
Technique: Ricecarpets for chickens, pictures – movie – soundtrack
My ‘Tour des poulets’ project started as a pitch for a residency at the location KipVis in Middelburg (NL). My plan to let my ricecarpets be eaten by chicken sounded good to the jury and I was invited to make a project for 2 months.
My plan was first to get chicken at the exhibition space, but it quickly changed into a tour. A local newspaper published my quest for artistic chicken and my phone rang all day. I decided to just visit the first callers. My tour brought me to 5 chicken-owners and a quail owner.
I started on every location with asking for the location the birds mostly eat their food to set up the camera and cooked some rice in their kitchen. Everywhere people were really excited and invited friends and family to come watch. The surreal situation of the chicken eating the carpets and people watching it and realizing that they normally never watch their chicken eat, was such a great experience. Koen de Wit joined me on my tour to play clarinet for the chicken (while they were eating the carpets, the original idea was that it was like a candlelight dinner for the chicken) and took some great photos himself.
The end result of ‘Tour des poulets’ is a full length, slow-TV, movie of 107 minutes. But it also resulted in a soundtrack and an overview exhibition at the end of my residency were all chicken owners were present. One of them performed her poetry about her chicken. I organized a pre-opening for which I reached out to one of the callers. I asked if I could still make a small carpet in their garden to launch my movie. Around the corner from where the exhibition was held, all early visitors were watching three chicken eat a little carpet while Koen played clarinet. I later exhibited my project in Breda at the StadsGalerij and the movie was shown full length at the BlindeMuur at Chassé and KleurenteleviZie.
Location: Festival Into The Great Wide Open (ITGWO) on Vlieland (NL)
Technique: Pattern made of cooked rice with a stencil
In the beginning of May al artists who got selected for Into The Great Wide Open 2014 where invited to check out their locations, meet the forester Erik and get a small preview with Here Comes The Summer. It was pretty cold, and being home only two weeks after the residency in Cambridge it felt a bit strange being away again to another island. But I also felt so fortunate that this was and is my job!
The project idea I send in was to make a ricecarpet that would be best visible from a high lookout. The pattern for the carpet would be based on a local popular motif. During my visit to the island and afterwards I gathered a lot of information about Vlieland and the specific location for my carpet called ‘Sjouwersmanbol’ (something like “Porters-man-bulwark”). On this viewpoint is now an ex-NAVO range. From this high steel construction you get a great view over the island, the sea channel between Vlieland and Terschelling, the sandbank Richel and a lot of water. The natural viewpoint was used by cargo porters to spot the incoming ships through the sea channel. They then had enough time to run towards the harbor and secure the shipment.
Looking at old maps and so called “spekmatten”. “Spekmatten” are floor mats made by sailors. On board they kept the needle in the grease so it wouldn’t rust. I noticed one clear motif, a symbol used on every map and I also found it on a lot of other things on Vlieland: A Windrose.
I made a ricecarpet with the title ‘Alles Stroomt’ (Panta rhei / “Everything flows). The windroses all pointing north. I used 4 different motifs to make 35 windroses out of cooked rice. During the three days of Into The Great Wide Open, 5 till 7 September 2014, the ricecarpet slowly disappeared while the birds eat from it.
In 2014 I got a suprize email inviting me for a kind of residency at De Kapeltuin, a community garden, in Breda (NL). They saw a ricecarpet by me in the very beginning of my still short career. Contemplating how to proceed with my ricecarpets, my temporary ephemeral organic carpets, after my projects in England, it come at the perfect moment. I didn’t just wanted to make a work on location, I wanted it to grow on location. I made a plan and happily it was excepted. The carpets that I normally make are made with materials I just buy at Toko, supermarkets and organic stores. In Cambridge and London I experimented with waste from pubs and given materials from homes. Resulting in different, interesting works on maybe even more interesting locations.
How can I make my work more sustainable, is the question I’m asking myself. So I’m making my own materials. I’m planted the seeds and with the harvest I’m making my temporary carpet. So sowing the seeds, reaping them and taking care of the plants till harvest. A seed to seed project. To stretch this cycle even further, the seeds I use for the temporary carpets, are selected on the quality of the seeds. So people can take the seeds with them during the Harvest festival and plant them again. They not only take a seed with them, but also a little bit of history about De Kapeltuin. Every seed together tells the whole story. So in this way, people get invited to share. It’s more than a harvest to eat. It’s a heirloom, captured in one seed.