An affective encounter with an arch acts as the conceptual point of departure for a fabulation. Taking inspiration from the historical manifestations of trompe-l'œils and cabinets of curiosities, the arch in Circa106 becomes a liminal space between reality and fiction, stories and tellers. By juxtaposing apparently unrelated phenomena, the fabulation opens itself up to the world and becomes the teller of its own narrative. It is the visitor’s duty to discover its stories and transformations, before its doors close once more.
The arch in Circa106: before
In the context of Circa106, the cabinet reveals itself. It becomes the teller of its own narrative. It is the visitor’s duty to discover its stories and transformations, before its doors close once more.
All of a sudden, the cabinet’s insides become a trompe l’oeil. Its contents congeal as a simulation of reality, with a particular effect on its viewer and the reality itself. The transformation strives on the ability of the teller to convey its story.
Adjusting a novel viewpoint through the lenses of my own practice, I decided to use the arch as a framing device for my exploration. At the moment of the residency, my headspace was inundated by facts about fiction - the topic of my Master thesis. Every element, bit and piece seem to revolve around fiction writing.
As a creative deviation from my research, in the context of Circa16, I wanted to listen to what its distinctive arch has to offer. I am here to tell a story, in an attempt to open the arch up to new tellers to come - a homage to things that it was and things it will become.
Other than the winter garden facing South with its 2-meter high potted plants, the inward arch on the rightest wall is what struck me the most in Circa 106. Its introspective tendency immediately captivated me. An arch that has the potential to be whatever one wants it to be. This poetic encounter is my conceptual point of departure for a story.
They say that adapting to a new space is always inspiring, but actually it is more complicated than that. Since your brain is not used to new surroundings, it becomes extra cautious, looking for details and hints that it can use for orientation. When you become familiarised with the space, you then blend with it and with what it can offer.
STORY: a five letter noun filled to the brim with meaning: it can be a sad story, a happy-ending story, a biography, an epic, a haiku, a grocery list, an article in a magazine. A story is a bag of things that matter. Or a cabinet of curiosities containing facts and events collected over time on the shelves of somebody’s mind. Once in a while, its doors open up to the public, and the story pours out into the world.
TELLING: a gerund, an action in disguise: an act dependent on something prior and something following. Once the act of telling is initiated, the story roams free, it becomes visible in and through the act.
When somebody tells a compelling story, so it happens that the listener’s imagination begins to unfurl. And as words are told and gestured, the story unfurls too. What causes this peculiar reaction to take place is the act of telling. In particular, storytelling refers to the oral or written sharing of stories.
The Wunderkammer (or its smaller version, the cabinet of curiosities) is a collection of random, rare and remarkable objects. A personal archive of sorts, it includes peculiar findings both genuine and fake. The walrus, the unicorn, embalmed oddities were all collectible elements in the rooms of the wealthy who could afford these extravagant chambers. Objects would crawl out of drawers and shelves and populate the walls of the room and the minds of its visitors, as the host would tell their stories to its appalled guests. More than a simple entertainer, the host would be a weaver of words and worlds. In the Wunderkammer fiction meets reality, fact mixes with fabulation and their fortunate entanglement encourages curiosity and debate.
When looking at ‘storytelling’ from up close, we can see we are dealing with a compound word, with a certain flair.
A trompe-l'œil (from French: to deceive the eye) typically consists of painting a subject in a sufficiently realistic manner so that the wall on which it is painted disappears to the eye. In the trompe l’oeil, the artist goes far beyond the normal trickery of painting, to make the viewer think that they are looking at something quite different, and usually intensely three-dimensional. This particular attempt to represent reality realistically goes back to the origins of painting and has been propagating through the centuries through sacred or mundane depictions.
A window*, a door, a portal, a gaze into another world. A surface curtaining depth. Something that needs to be veiled and protected for posterity. An archive of things loaded with stories.