following the project The Orphans of Tar
One week before the street opera PLOT came into place in the middle of Tondelier construction site, the workshop group of Spinning PLOT stepped “on stage”. The group observed, monitored and learned from ongoing processes and became directly and indirectly part of the play.
The workshop was based on the participatory open air opera PLOT by artist collective PILOOT. This opera was the grand finale of a trajectory of 7 years of social artistic research and exercises. By introducing and unravelling the works of PILOOT, Spinning PLOT entered the multilayered artistic practices which developed and are still running around Tondelier site – a highly gentrified area in the Rabot area in Ghent.
As Spinning PLOT, we set up a camp at Kunsthal Gent and made daily expeditions to Tondelier, where the artists and protagonists of the opera PLOT were active. We dug into archive material, invited the artists currently and formerly involved in the long term practice on site and exchanged on each other's artistic interests in this experimental context.
We started by engaging with the speculative opera libretto The Orphans of Tar, a factual-fiction co-authored by participants and contributors of a previous site-specific workshop in 2019, ourselves included. We looked into its characters and thereby introduced the idea of a co-conducted Tondelier opera.
Based on methodologies of co-narrating, we took an outside satellite perspective on opera PLOT, to realise scenes of our own. A scene being a moment, in which participants made their experience tangible in the medium of their choice, helped by the group.
photos Tomas Uyttendaele
To introduce what could be a standalone scene, Clémentine Vaultier proposed an activity based on the Orphans of Tar character: the Anxious Explorer. She invited Jean-Francois Paquay and together, both being experts in ceramics, they introduced us to a botanical stroll into material collection in ceramic making, with a special focus on ash glazing and invasive plants. With her excursion on Tondelier site, Clémentine Vaultier invited the workshop group to hunt butterfly bushes and therefore explore the construction site PLOT on an off-track mode.
More satellite scenes in the shape of written text or performances followed. For instance Emma Boeyaert was interested in the transient daily routines and conversations construction workers held today, but will be dust of the past by tomorrow. Recording the construction workers up on the 8th floor, she amplified them later on the stage of opera PLOT, before the main acts began and made this sound ambience her small format scene. “Like a message to the future inhabitants of the apartment complex,” she says.
The “Embodied Voice Practice”, composed to gain body awareness and self trust, was shared in a guided session by Jietske Vermoortele, who recently learned the exercises from Juliana Bloodgood in a residency in Greece.
“Miss Trust’s Bubblegum Exercice”, an experimental singing technique developed during the writing of The Orphans of Tar was introduced by Vanessa Müller. First shared with the workshop group on the terrace of the representative Tondelier office pavilion, it later helped warming up with the singers of the opera choir.
The similarities of Latin and Kyrilic written vocabulary, and the Ukrainian sound of words, compared to English generated another trajectory to one of our participants. Oxana Adamova made a connection between the artist impression, typically to the industry, and the emotional side of gentrification. By creating tags on site, carving them into the black mountain of soil, she made her signatures a temporary monument and therefore a part of PLOT.
Julien De Smet made a composter and proposed a final gathering around shredding material processed during the week. Elements of the notes, organic garbage, and other relevant organic findings, were reduced into scrapples and later mingled to the mass. This capsule was installed in the container on Tondelier site, to process the latest happenings over time.
By intervening with opera PLOT, Spinning PLOT became part of the play, weaving social and artististic interactions within the group, the organisers, the participants, and the public.
The workshop was realised through the frameworks of radical_house/ Bridging from School, PILOOT and Nomadic School of Arts, and financed by the European Union through NextGenerationEU.
Julien de Smet, Vanessa Müller and Clémentine Vaultier, alumni of Autonomous Design, KASK School of Arts organised Spinning PLOT. Together they form BOTSCHAFT, a collective which developed shared interests in intertwining practices, politics of space and storytelling. BOTSCHAFT is a research-based facilitator and messenger – Botschafter – to connect and fuse individual research interests within and beyond art school.