Mute - Wenn die Stille zum Bild wird

Kerkrade, Netherlands, 2015

Kerkrade, in Zuid-Limburg, is a perfect example of a shrinking city in Europe. From the middle ages until the seventies of the last century there was a big mining industry in the area (it was the oldest mining district of Europe). Today the town seems to be deserted. It is almost as if its inhabitants preferred to be absent. (more about the history of Kerkrade, see: Te Huur, Te Koop)

Blow up (van zwart naar groen)
I was in Kerkrade for the second time so I tried to approach the city and its past history from a different angle than I did the first time when my work was practically entirely based on "field trips" (exploring the area by cycle). So this time I went through a film archive at the Rijckheyt (centrum voor regionale geschiedenis in Heerlen). Especially I got interested in the footages of the amateurfilm club Hoensbroek. They were digitalised S-8 footages documenting the consequences of the decision in 1965 of the government to shut down the mines in Zuid‑Limburg.
I watched hours of footages taken between the late sixties and the early seventies documenting the blowing up of industrial buildings and chimneys, how people were watching the explosions and how the region got an entirely new "face". This reshaping or rearranging of the region was called van zwart naar groen (from black to green).

Particularly I got interested in the parts where the author of the footages was filming the people watching the explosions. The camera became the observer of the observers of the actual incidents. I again as the third observer viewed the camera's footages of the people watching.
This point of view of a passive and mute observer either me, or the camera or the people was this time the catalyst for my works.

The Miners' Monument (D'r Jeop)
Kerkrade for an outsider is a very quite town. So even during the week the market place seems to be deserted. At one end of the square a monument of a miner stands on a pedestal. I filmed the monument from the back for as long as the memory card lasted which was 20 minutes. For the projection I built a kind of dark room with heavy stage curtains which silenced the room and made it completely dark.
While the visitor is watching the loop of the miners' monument he is confronted with the silence of the market place occasionally interrupted by the passing of an old lady walking with a walking frame or some pigeons picking grains from the ground.

The Rehearsal (Mannenkoor)
From the past history as a miners' region many associations emerging from that time are still active. One of them is the choir. I could attend the rehearsals of the Koninklijk Kerkraads Mannenkoor St.Lambertus. They meet every friday evening in the back room of a restaurant in Kerkrade. I recorded the rehearsal for a concert which they were giving on the occasion of the celebration of the Year of the mines 2015.
The recorded rehearsal of the Mannenkoor I put in the cellar of the building where the exhibition took place (former post office of Kerkrade). While the visitor was seeing the exposition in the ground floor he/she was accompanied by the faint sound of singing voices.


Blow up

The Miners' Monument (Video installation)
Theatre curtain (3m x 30m), wood, rear projection screen (2m x 3m),
video beamer (Total installation size: 2.70m x 2.70m x 7m)

The Rehearsal (Sound installation)
Mp-3 player, stereo speaker

*) Rijckheyt (centrum voor regionale geschiedenis) / amateurfilm club Hoensbroek


Many thanks to: