The solo project REHEARSAL by Germaine Kruip (Castricum, 1970) is one of the most minimal works she has made to date. Especially produced for SMBA, in this work Kruip brings into the ‘neutral’ exhibition space her investigations of the perception of the reality of the public domain.
Kruip’s work operates on the border between theatre and fine art. In her projects the viewer is alternately placed in the position of observer and actor. Through subtle interventions she adds an extra dimension to seemingly everyday situations. In another work, 'Point of View', she had the public walk through the city. En route the walkers encountered staged situations. Kruip asked actors to perform acts that would be perceived as completely normal in a street setting. Because the viewers did not know who was an actor and who simply another passer-by, a situation arose which forced a sharpened observation of everyday reality. Was the sleeping woman on the bank part of a ‘performance’? And the little boy walking across the grass field – who did he belong to?
In July 2002, Kruip made a version of this performance in Tucuman, Argentina, where the public domain has become a charged arena after the collapse of the Argentine economy. Inhabitants of Tucuman take to the street to express their displeasure at the national government – with silent marches or by standing outside the local government building clapping for hours on end. The staging that Kruip organized in the central square in Tucuman acquired a stronger political charge than she had at first foreseen.
For her presentation at SMBA Kruip has decided to go for a contrast. REHEARSAL is situated in an exhibition space stripped of all extraneous detail, thus forming an antithesis to the charged public space of Tucuman. The subject of REHEARSAL is the behavioural codes and unwritten laws of the places where art is exhibited. Analogous to her work in public space, in REHEARSAL the viewer is both performer and performance. The viewer is unable to establish a relationship with the bustling reality of the city, but moves in space that is more or less empty except for the back wall which has been transformed into an enormous light box of seventeen metres long. Fellow visitors in this space become silhouettes against the bright light, new visitors are clearly illuminated. In this theatrical setting the visitor is strongly aware of his or her own presence. Every movement or gesture becomes amplified. A few photographic images near the entrance indicate what might occur in this space, but as usual, Kruip does not reveal her script. It is left to the viewers to find their own way and to judge which roles have been set aside for them.