Lee Mingwei – Song Forest (2018)
 
Almost all the work of Lee Mingwei (b. Taichung (TW), 1964, lives and works in Paris and New York) is not so much about the creation of art objects as about establishing intimate interpersonal contact. Without the visitor’s active participation, the work is incomplete and meaningless. Viewers receive simple instructions asking them to perform a certain action, thereby becoming a participant in the work. This active contribution to a project makes visitors highly aware of themselves and of the degree to which they, as individuals, are prepared to be vulnerable and to trust the artist and/or the other participant(s), often complete strangers. In the creation of this intimate contact, Lee makes use of different disciplines, such as architecture, dance, music and poetry.
 
Specially for Brief Encounters visitors were invited by an eight-year-old boy to sit on a chair in front of a woman at a grand piano, which had been placed in the woods. The woman was the renowned Taiwanese pianist PeiYao Wang – mother of the boy, Owen, and a good friend of Lee’s. The piano, Owen’s seat and the chair where the invited visitor sat, were on stages, the shape of which was based on abstract ripples in water, a design by David Lee, Owen’s father.
Wang gave one visitor at a time a brief private concert, while the other members of the audience watched the scene from a distance. She played pieces from Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturnes, 21 works for piano, which he composed between 1827 and 1846. Nocturnes (from the Latin nocturnus) are compositions inspired by the dreamy atmosphere of the night, which were popularised by Chopin.
 
It was a mesmerizing experience: the innocence of the young boy offering the invitation, the world-famous romantic sounds shimmering through the trees, played especially for you by a master pianist who was sitting right in front of you. Many visitors shed a tear.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
fotografie: Gert Jan van Rooij
 
Shana Moulton – Trapped in a Pyramid Scheme (2018)
 
The artistic practice of Shana Moulton (b. Oakhurst, 1976, lives and works in Fresno) revolves around a woman who is searching for meaning and purpose in a commercial wasteland of consumer goods and beauty products. The role of that woman is played by Moulton’s alter ego, the naive Cynthia – Moulton in a wig. On her way to enlightenment, hypersensitive to the obsessions, neuroses and anxieties associated with contemporary Western society, Cynthia seeks refuge in TV gurus and all kinds of beauty products that are designed to combat the signs of ageing.
 
Cynthia is in many respects the product of Moulton’s own compulsive thoughts – and those of millions of others. The alter ego functions as an irrational self-portrait that has been created in order to submit to a world in which prescription medicines, esoteric movements and products targeted at female consumers by the health, wellness and beauty industries all combine equally to determine physical and mental wellbeing. In performances and videos that deliberately evoke a surreal Twin Peaks-like atmosphere, which is often as hilarious as it is terrifying, Cynthia moves through a pastel-coloured world of kitsch and decadence, which brings to mind the clichéd image of the west coast of America.
 

For Brief Encounters, Moulton created a performance, in which Cynthia was trapped inside a pyramid of wooden beams, to which various New Age items and physiotherapeutic devices were attached, all intended to improve her spiritual and physical state of being. While Cynthia attempted to free herself from the pyramid in a Houdini-like struggle that also evoked associations with the victims of medieval public torture, her prison gradually transformed into an orgone generator, a wooden cabinet that is believed to turn negative energy into positive energy, an invention created by the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. This allowed Cynthia to master the situation, and she experienced perfect balance in her spiritual, emotional and physical states; purifying freedom and peace of mind in the forest.
 
Trapped in a Pyramid Scheme will be performed twice on 26 May: at 3pm and at 4.30pm.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
fotografie: Gert Jan van Rooij
 
Nick Steur – FREEZE, reflections (2018)
 
Nick Steur (b. 1982, Nijmegen, lives and works in Maastricht) always seeks out in his work the near-impossibility of defying natural forces, solely through the use of his own muscle power and extreme concentration and precision. He usually carries out his art projects in the public space, with natural materials such as stone, sand and water. Steur studied at the Toneelschool (institute of performative arts) in Maastricht and his work lies at the interface of visual and performing arts. The process, in the presence of the public, is at least as important to him as the result.
 
For Brief Encounters Steur conceived a new version of the work FREEZE, which he has realized in different ways since 2012. His original plan to allow two boulders of 50 to 70 cm height to be balanced in the pool in De Oude Warande could ultimately not be realised due to the current exceptionally high water level. In his new proposal Steur made use of this high water level. In the Romantic looking pool, the result of 19th century sand excavation for the production of cement, Steur arranged, in a two hours lasting performance, six stackings of Carrara marble stones and moonstones in a circular composition, each stone some twenty to forty centimeters high. The stackings seemed to float on the water surface. The audience seemed hypnotized.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
fotografie: Gert Jan van Rooij
 
Brief Encounters ’18 – 16 September
 
Davide Balula (FR)
Thorsten Brinkmann (DE)
Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen (PH)