SLOW BURN – AN INDEX OF POSSIBILITIES
Spoorzone 013 - 06.04– 23.06.2013
The five biggest towns in the province of Noord-Brabant are on the verge of redeveloping their railway zones. The railway zone in Tiburg is a large (55-hectare) elongated area running through the city centre. Tilburg’s aim in redeveloping the railway zone is to achieve a unique blend of knowledge, culture, leisure, sustainability, and cutting-edge mixed-use development, a whole meant to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Redevelopment of the NS workshop section, with its monumental buildings, can bring an important part of Tilburg’s cultural heritage back to life. These historic structures and
infrastructure imbue the area with a unique quality and energy. This makes the railway zone a fascinating combination of urban renewal with an emphasis on industrial heritage.
As the first international cultural project in the railway zone, Slow Burn will play a pioneering role. Slow Burn will not in any way serve as an instrument of ideology or a fig leaf. On the contrary, the exhibition will be both a vehicle for developments in contemporary art and a site-responsive reflection on the distinctive features of the railway zone as it is redeveloped.
If there is one term that captures the essence of the railway zone, then it is undeniably time. Not only does the railway zone have a historic heart but the area is also profoundly marked by remnants that evoke the theme of passage. These vestiges of the past include not only the workshops once used for train maintenance, but also the extant infrastructural elements, which relate directly to transport and travel, concepts that cannot be separated from the idea of time.
Time is hardly a new theme in visual art, but over the past decade it has risen to new prominence within the oeuvres of many artists. All sorts of imaginative variations on this theme – reflections on passage, transformation, the cycle of life and death, the collective or personal past (whether factual or invented), the deceleration or compression of time, progress, visions of the future (whether based on technological advances or not, whether apocalyptic or not, whether they are new orders or new disorders) – have resulted in fascinating works and bodies of work that have greatly enhanced our ever-expanding insight into the slow burn known as time.
The redevelopment of the railway zone is still in the planning stage. What is actually going on remains hazy (a slow burn) because of the obstacles posed by the present economic crisis and political quagmire. The current vacuum offers, at least in theory, the potential for forms of action that undermine the supposed consensus and the dominant ideology and take dissensus as their fundamental principle. Michel De Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984) contends that the natural tendency of the individual or small community is either to appropriate ideology, social structures, and codes for one’s own purposes, or to evade them, and thus to tend towards an orderly chaos that he refers to as entropy, a term with its origins in thermodynamics that refers to the most fundamental form of unpredictable chaos or derailment within a system.
Slow Burn is intended to accommodate a collection of works that investigate and express the concept of time in various ways, along with works focusing on the concept of entropy. The combination of these two themes can provide insight into the possibilities or impossibilities encapsulated in an area in the process of redefinition, like the railway zone: an index of possibilities.
Slow Burn will unfold exclusively in the former locomotive depot (1933) in the railway zone. It will be the first time that these interiors are open to the general public.