zondag 19 september 2021


 Finally got to Paris again since a while, and finally the project that had been on the sheld since 1962 is being realized: the wrapping of the Arc de Triomphe - a sight for sore eyes... worth a trip.

broken Lantern and crane... 

zondag 7 maart 2021

euro-theatrix / cadavre



The current project at the Buktapaktop, being a “cadavre esquis” and sectioned in 8 or 9 parts due to the Covid-19 rules, makes for an interesting 'case' of theatre studies.. The exquisite corpse is of course not a physical one, but does have it's roots in the 'theatre of anatomy' - not only in terms of le Comte de Lautréamont's proto-dadaist statement of “the beauty of an encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on a operating table” but also in terms of dissecting thoughts in a “Tieranatomisches Theater” - name used in Berlin for ages..; and reminding us of our own mammalian condition – something we seem to forget often...

The fact that the former anatomical theatre now houses and operates the “Heimholz Zentrum für Kulturtechnik” (Centre for Cultural technology) seems very appropriate for my own considerations...


(TAT in the 1960's)

Beginning with the theatre of life & death as it were and the anatomical gaze as essential to understand the inner workings, even if missing the point constantly (dissected rabbit never to hop again)

(see also historical section)

so Buktapaktop's “Cadavere esquis” is something that I consider being performance, theatre and conceptual dissection at the same time – My first instalment was in fact in absentia: taking the day to investigate a stretch of coastline as a 'figure' representing anyone who had passed both recently and in history (as chance would have it these images were taken on one of the many bunkers left over from the “Atlantikwall' fortifications strewn all along the north sea coast - 

(picture taken by R. Pacquée)



here a report from the 'Obst' section


woensdag 6 mei 2020

Pencilpomegrenade beehive

Remains pencilled in / photoTrinks

Well I was pleasantly surprised when I had a look at the first results of my investigative project for the series "what remains" at defibrillator in Chicago... I had been somewhat dismayed at the technical problems we encountered ( aside from the sorry fact I couldn't be there myself) and had sort of reduced expectations... But no, it was quite interesting... The crew at DFBR8r had done a good job at installing the piece just in the passage between front and rear... So being part of the gallery space and at the same time the soul kitchen where artists congregate... The presentation being something in passing, an aside to the main events so to speak "en passant" as the french would say... Thus recreating quite well the memory of being out of class during lessons, so to say, sharpening pencils, as if that were an essential part of my education... And yes it was... 

Photo Trinks

Here too, the aside nature of the proposition, sharpening a pencil while passing by to get a drink or conversely, to see the next performance... And yet just as it is an aside, there is no pretension to a proposal... It seems to come when turning the handle of this manual machine that takes people back to when not everything was automatic. At the same time it's mechanistic and repetitive, grinding away at the troubles... Which is a very positive slant given by one of the participants...

C.R.'s wonderful befitting Beehive 
          ( Ph. Angeliki Chaido Tsoli)

The setup was perfect... Perfect too was the get-up that C.R. - the artist hosting my piece had prepared... A veritable school teacher from the early sixties... Decent but light & airy blouse with flower decoration, and a wonderful beehive sculpture of a hair-do, slightly flamboyant but retaining a certain strictness needed to keep the kids on the straight & narrow...  And yes, even though I had just mentioned this memory connected to the sharpener at school in passing... It is spot on: the beehive hairdo is also an original Chicago invention...  And what is more... It connects directly back to the pomegranate... By way of Vinci... The creator of the Beehive was Margaret Vinci Heldt, and earlier I had made reference to the grenades designed by Leonardo Da Vinci... But per chance came across a painting by him depicting mother and child ( mary & Jeeez...) with a pomegranate... Well well...

So much for synchronicity and serendipity...

So, after hatching the idea to replace the missing shavings-receptacle with a hollowed- out pomegranate, an idea that was also spawned by some fluke connection made to the projects preceding this one... The question of how many seeds, the varying traditions and meanings... Well, I actually counted the seeds in this one, and there are 468 of them, and as of yet I have not found a number that coincides in some mysterious way...

In the meantime I have had word that my copies of the four remain-investigations are en route... Looking forward to reading about all the other findings... And in the meantime, remains are being gathered everywhere... Virus r no virus...
Keep well!

zondag 8 maart 2020


the next / second step to the pencil-shapening contribution to "what remains" as proposed at the end of the sharpening process to re-connect with the original performance.
full circle.

zaterdag 29 februari 2020


everything that could / did go wrong (technically) and so this video is a sort of ersatz-perf-correspondence which will be expanded upon later...
Thanks for all those that did their best to make it possible...

zaterdag 1 februari 2020

February remainder series...

for the investigation at DFBRL8R gallery in Chicago I decided to go with an old sharpener - I was an inveterate sharpener as school, and wanted to know what happened to all those shavings...


Boston vs Chicago

Though Boston seems to be the slightly older brand, I have now come to realise that Chicago is well and truly in the running for pencil sharpening capital of the US of A… their Loomis & Shultz company being the home of the US pencil sharpening company, or American Pencil sharpening company… “US” being one of their early products) - APSCo… well, who would have guessed (except Chicagoans, who knew all along) — interesting industrial and social history there with the firs union lockouts and such… and…
for me the solution to a vexing question: why the boston sharpener didn’t have a see-through receptacle through chip/shaving receptacle… it’s not like they didn’t try… seems the patent war went back and forth and in the end Boston lost out… (having first won their plea… but I never came across a Boston sharpener with a window before…)

(see here a report on some labor dispute involving pistols and clubs… and two women roughly handled…)

But we get ahead of ourselves… though pencils are as old as the hills, pencil sharpeners only came into being with the advent of mechanically produced pencils, probably due to a uniformity that did not exist before… some sharpeners were produced on small local scales, but the first real pencil sharpener company was American.. in 1855 Walter Kittredge Foster of Bangor, Maine produced small hand-held sharpeners that were even sold in Europe as ‘the american pencil sharpener’…

APSCO (Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co.) became the largest after buying out the USpencil sharpener company in 1907, and together with other US companies dominated the market.

but the basic patent is from olcott, which was bought out by apsco…

but what i consider now as one of the more interesting aspects
of pushing pencils is from a belgian surrealist who did a lot of
work in Lapland, and as one might surmise: it all melted away

here a quick swipe at his snow pencil, as seen in a recent exhibit in Brussels...

Pencil Point
second part / consideration:

When doing some preliminary research I found this comment by Marilyn Rousseau as a response to a short history of Boston sharpeners on the net (related to the office museum I think)  - it quite endeared me:

For Christmas in 1948, I asked for a Boston pencil sharpener just like the one we had at school. It had eight holes for different sized pencils. Many years later, I wondered what happened to that pencil sharpener, and when I visited the old, abandoned farmhouse some years afterwards, I found it still screwed to a bookcase. The entire place had been stripped, even the kitchen sink was gone, but there stood my almost 70 year-old, rusted pencil sharpener. I unscrewed it, and brought it home where it resides in my sewing studio, and still sharpens pencils as good as new.
August 22, 2017 1:03 pm
Also it reminded me that we too had a sharpener - though not a gleaming shiny one with multiple size-holes and all that: just a plain Bulldog, but which certainly did the trick and was with us for ever so long… I don’t know what happened to it but it’s no longer around… what did strike me though was that when I did a sketch concerning the absence of the shavings-receptacle I happened to automatically fill it in with red, which of course the Boston KS used in schools did not have a red shavings receptacle.

Memory is not always an efficient tool: what remains depends on all kinds of influences that may or may ot have anything to do with the reasoning behind it. Often I find myself believing something to be true based on first-hand knowledge only to find I’m amiss: and that memory has warped over the years to include hearsay, wishful thinking and just plain obstinacy.
Photographs and such are always helpful but not irrefutably conclusive, especially nowadays with electronic manipulation it is hard to state the neutrality of the image as once was taken for granted (even then, master-forgers could give even professionals the runaround) and thus we come to the subjectivity of the memory, the sub/conscious and the submerge-ability of suggestion, conjecture, speculation and belief…

(see also museum of the subconscious, B.P.)

I purposely did not enquire about the previous/original performance (it was given as option not to) even though I did see a heap of shavings as an additional proposition, I decided not to stay with only one remnant. - one that had spoken to me on a near-subconscious level rather than an intellectual - even though one might construe my recognition of what it was as an intellectual trait - albeit a cultural one: many non-americans from a certain (later) generation would not recognise it, just as I was surprised recently seeing someone who was not even that young not recognise a coffee mill… a hand cranked one admittedly… 

So when confronted at some stage during the correspondence with the mention of the name of the performer who had left this object behind I was in a quandary: look up the performance and carry on my considerations with the original intent and result in mind, or negate the information… (not delete, but set it aside for later…)  I chose the latter… otherwise I would have had to immediately put on my conservator’s hat and consider the best way to arrest, preserve and present the object at hand with the original intention and context as my guidance, as far as a definitive identification of these might have been possible.

(here too the aspect of the first section of this investigation comes to mid: to fix… not only in the sense of repairing possible damage, but to affix or to arrest context to the exclusivity of the original intention. I wanted to avoid that for the time being… If I had not, I would perhaps not have rememberd that my own sharpened was a Bulldog and not a KS… in this case the lack of information about a missing element has in fact conjured a new(old) memory tat might or might not have anything to do with it all.

to be investigated further…

part three


I have been referring only to the subjective and supposed origins of my remnants, reflecting mainly on my own perspective, experience and attitude - while negating, yes actively negating information pertaining to the actual course of things that led to this remnant being included in the series… even though I have received information about the original performance, I decided to negate, or at least postpone any investigation or reference to it even though it is the main point of departure of any speculation. 
Instead I have been seduced by the meanderings of a non-specific research, a submersible one, that tends to flow and eddy like a stream, digress and turn in circles going no-where specifically in a hurry… from the beginnings of the modern pencil as a small part of the revolutionary ‘military industrial complex’ (to wit, alongside early flight as possible asset to military campaigns… Conté was known primarily as monglofier in his time…) digressing into the circumstances that led (lead…) pencil-producer Henry David Thoreau to retreat into the woods at Walden and be able to publish his findings through pencilmaking… though no-one seems to know if he actually used the pencils to write the book… mythology forms around these uncertainties, and any attempt to re-enact or trap a past performance is prone to hearsay (hear-see?) speculative interpretation… even the strictest empirical methodology has at some point to soften and allow a certain amount of conjecture: even if the intent of the original performer had been different that the actual version presented, it might not be opportune to divulge this information at that time, or any time for that mater, and thus become one of those variable of which I speak.

The rivalry between the American (Automatic) Pencil Sharpening Co. and Boston Pencil Sharpener, (still to this day: see recent article on “Sharpener Shootout: APSCO vs Ranger 55”) - not to mention the interesting social and labor histories involved… History of patent rights, (see A.B. Dick, also of Chicago) and the development of US capitalism and anti-trust laws in general… lots of digressions to get lost in I’m sure… and then there is gender politics too:

see ad from the  ///  vintage ads. live journal 

well well

(discussion: who came up with the first: “taille crayon” in 1828 pat 2444 Bernard Lassimone…Paris, then 1837 in the UK: similar “Styloxynon”…  (need to sharpen with knife before inserting) the again France: Thierry des Estwaux; thie first prism sharpener…  (NY bought some in 1853)

in the US Walter K Foster patented first sharpener in 1851… (waltee k fostee) 1855… and by 1860 was exporting to Europe for draughtsmen’s supplies… 

Revolution with A.B. Dick Planetary Pointer in 1896…  from then on various / improved versions etc..  see Love Sharpener (US pat #594114)

so much for the empirical dope…

 Okay, before the last entry (the one with the pomegranate seeds)

one might consider the loss of the shavings receptacle as the saving of the machine itself: becoming a curious remnant rather than just an old machine for… and getting tossed out. Often it is the most common piece of equipment that does not survive the test of time: too many of them around so everyone thinks… oh but there are so many around until there are… none around anymore…  
how then do we come from the stories of the great inventor Conté to the question of how many seeds… where do these investigations lead us,

how are we ever to make heads or tails of them if - as is the case here - the investigation itself produces more questions and material than the original thought ever considered?


 Finally got to Paris again since a while, and finally the project that had been on the sheld since 1962 is being realized: the wrapping of ...