Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 6#2/3 Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven 1 jan 1991



Annemie van Kerckhoven is a Belgian artist who wears her politics on her panties.


Kerckhoven -

The Dream as Point of Departure and Epilogue: description kills foundation

I was lying in the room I had as a child, the room in which I lived until I was fifteen. An attic room with an irregular, slanted ceiling: the wall was three metres high on the one side and one metre high on the other. A tall gas radiator painted reddish brown, divided into five, separate, elliptical heating elements with a shiny metal cap, stood in front of the chimney on the newly scrubbed, bare wooden floor.
I'd just had a short romance with a young, ambitious art critic in the bed which was at right angles to the radiator and at an equal distance from the slanted roof with the window. It was dark outside, and the light at the head of the bed was very bright. The boy was tired and wanted to stay in bed for a while yet; the thin blanket didn't provide very much warmth.
Because something had attracted my attention, something which hadn't been there before, I'd climbed out of the bed. On the radiator was a kind of fish bowl, very large, filled to the rim with some kind of yoghurt-like substance. The substance was of an icy, dull blue-green colour and smelled pleasantly chemical and very poisonous. Fear hung in the air of the room. A tune became barely audible in the room: oddly enough, it seemed to come from the bowl. I carefully brought my ear as close as I could to the substance, and automatically, the urge came to hum along softly with the familiar ditty. This was what was expected of me and this is what I did. In this way, I came into contact with the liquid in the bowl. It was an intelligence which wished to communicate. What did it want to make me understand? I became afraid and looked around at the critic, who was half asleep and oblivious to what was happening.
The next moment, the bowl was in a far corner of the room, where it was cold, because it was freezing outside.
After a few distracted moments I looked at the bowl from which heavy, jagged crystals were growing upwards, leaning to the right. They were also mint coloured and taught me that the liquid didn't tolerate cold well.
There was noise at the door of the room and I let in the rest of the family, so that they could look at the frozen, apparently dead phenomenon. Their gazes were disturbed and uneasy.
The decision was made to thaw the bowl out on the radiator and it was put on top of it, once again. The liquid regained its normal state immediately and another soft tune became audible. I laid my ear close against it and hummed along. The entity in the bowl and I merged together and had a dialogue. A feeling of great happiness and contentment came over me. I also felt the beginnings of a kind of tension; something dangerous was happening. Aggression, raw and unformed, grew and developed, disembodied. Infrasonic vibrations became tangible. White-hot hatred, humiliating, contemptuous disapproval, rude fervency filled the air. I experienced this all breathlessly, frozen to the floor. The marble on the chimney burst into pieces, the wooden mantel was torn away, carefully placed explosions affirmed a tangible presence which felt compelled to defend itself, in some way.
My housemates had long since fled down the staircase in panic and the art critic tried to analyse the whole thing in an abstract way. I felt very privileged to have been able to experience all of these things, even though I must admit that it took several months until I felt my oId self again, afterwards.

Written July 17, 1991 / Dreamed July, 1990

translation JIM BOEKBINDER