Blaka Watra was one of first users’ rooms in Amsterdam and is primarily frequented by an ‘invisible’ group of users with roots in Surinam. Most of them moved here after Surinam gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1975. Blaka Watra’s visitors are long-term users of hard drugs, most of them between 45 and 65 years old. Blaka Watra’s function is two-fold: it offers shelter and protection but at the same time provides for the ‘tidying up’ of public space and thus meets the growing clamour for a sense of safety in the public domain.
Saskia Janssen often works in conjunction with specific groups of people. This is driven by her personal fascination with making a situation ‘visible’. A users’ space like Blaka Watra is integrated into her work simply because she is curious about this invisible group, which has been sidelined to society’s periphery because the majority of us regard them as a source of nuisance. Saskia Janssen’s intention was to become acquainted with the users, and the work was produced as a result of this contact. She does not profess to improve the situation of the users; she has no ‘good intentions’. She does, however, cherish the ambition to generate something special as a result of such contact.
The publication is the result of a study conducted by Saskia Janssen in the context of the Art and Public Space Research Group project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.
Blaka Watra Spiders (Me & You on a Golden Avenue), Roma Publications, 2009.Dolores:Pilvi Takala - The Trainee
Imagine yourself in your (extremely) (boring) daily office job. Like you do every morning, you enter the big office (located in an area of the city which is easily reachable both by car and public transport) through the main entrance - greeting the hostess at the same time as you enter your access code to grant yourself access to the office area.
On your way to your own desk you spot a new girl. Although she wears her hair somewhat alternatively she does look quite ambitious with those neat trousers and that jacket.
On your first way (of many to come that day) to the coffee machine you see the new girl sitting at a desk. The desk has nothing on it - no computer, and not even papers or a pen. The girl is sitting behind the desk and appears to be in deep thought.
Back at your own desk you inquire about the girl with your colleagues. It turns out that her name is Johanna and that she is the new trainee. Why she doesn't have a computer is also quite a mystery to your colleagues.
On your second way to the coffee machine (or maybe it's the water cooler this time) you spot the trainee still without a computer - and still heavily contemplating. You decide to speak up to her: "What are you working on?", you ask. "I'm doing some brainwork", she answers. Flabbergasted you continue your ways.
Back at your desk you realize that it's also your responsibility to guarantee the future of the company, and therefore to make sure that the trainees from your company mirror the well being of this company in their future occupations. You decide to send an email with a complaint to your manager.
The last time you go and fetch some coffee for that day you meet up with some colleagues from Finance. They too have seen a new trainee sporting some awkward (to say the least) behaviour...
Pilvi Takala (Finland, 1981) has shown her work at the 2005 Istanbul Biennale, and more recently at Frac des Pays de La Loire in Nantes, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, and the Turku Art Museum. Some of her recent group shows include: the 5th Berlin Biennial, Kunsthalle Helsinki, and the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center. Currently she is a resident artist at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.
*The Dolores exhibition is curated by Joris Lindhout
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