Letters to Verónica: Verónica answers...

Dear Su!

Your email has touched me. You can publish. It’s a beautiful gesture and I don’t feel forced, or unreasonable, or desperate for not managing to get anything else. As long as the conversation won’t be manipulated to an audience, and it goes as it reaches me, I think it’s really fine and I repeat: it’s a very beautiful gesture, which impressed me. It’s strength also lays on the non arrogance and honesty and straightfulness of how you write. Write anything that comes into your mind and then we see, but you can write anything at all.

I now answer to your close words, so close…
I was reading you and reaching the part when you’d like to be invisible and an idea came to me: I’ve seen you walking a duck through the neighbourhood as a pet, or even a goose (but they are more dangerous) with a rope or a red string (it’s more sexy) on its neck and see what happens. I saw that people would come to you (for the duck), interact and that they would accept you. Don’t ask me why but I had that image and it hunts me now. Don’t ask me how…but I still find it a fabulous idea. I still think why is it and I find a memory of a gypsy neighbourhood in Macedonia where there were ducks in the streets and somehow this neighbourhood reminded me of the other one.

Of course I’ve seen the brother with the lawn tractor and I found the same poetics from your idea of writing me…or even simply this email.
It’s an absurd search and it suddenly it reminds me the book “Conquest of the Useless”, it’s the diary of the shooting from Fitcarraldo. I’d like us to read it together… and time, that dispute of impatience, our Walser.

Back to our dialogue of quotes, your from Pasteur (I like it) it reminds me this one that seats on another level, but doesn’t entirely contradict it: “circumstances? I am the circumstances”, it’s more or less like this. And it’s from Napoleon. You’ll have to make the circumstances as well. You’ll make them. Luck protects the audacious.

If the book is good, will you send it to me? Claire’s one, I have so much to read that I don’t know how. Checked my agenda and it’s possibly quite full until Nov 2012… :p

And it seems there’s nothing you write me that doesn’t remind me of tango at some point. Or maybe it’s tango that it’s stuck in my head: comme il faut is the name of the brand of the most fancy tango shoes from Buenos Aires. See the shop and the shoes on the web. They are super beautiful and the experience of buying them as well. You enter a shop where there’s a small room for men to wait and women go to another room where a few shoes are displayed. Then the lady comes with two pairs and asks you which ones you like the most. There are the two shapes of the shop. You choose one and then you have to say what you’d like: material, colour, wide, closed, sandal, etc. she goes back inside and brings a few with that kind of shape, according to your description and then you say: I’d like more so or so. She goes back inside and brings some more until you’ll keep one or a few pairs.  (Americans take 4 pairs…) but you can never see all the shop has. It’s fantastic as an experience, you feel like a queen. Quite opposed to the place where you are… Well, it would be nice that you’d take comme il faut to walk the duck. That would be the weirdest thing that exists but… makes perfect sense. Watch it: do you remember the story of the duck caretaker that is the daughter of a king? Her father sends her to take care of the ducks because she says she loves him as much as she loves salt. Do you know it? Maybe it’s not by chance that all this comes in this email. My little princess what are you doing there? What do you find that you don’t know already? Which treasure will this neighbourhood bring you? Which salt? A denounced princess crossing the neighbourhood with a duck and comme il faut shoes… No, the best! This is just a couple pictures and it’s a critic to artists pretend to be what they’re not, through an uncanny situation that shows exactly what they are… sorry, I’m raving through your project. It’s not fair. I flew. Sorry but I don’t delete it, so there’s nothing you don’t know.

In any case, I do remember of the neighbourhood. It’s good to know you there, it gives a deep peace to my less happy memories. I remember staying in bed facing the big window, after Jasper went out for Maths class, watching the snow falling. It was so beautiful! I’ve seen so much snow in that neighbourhood! The moments I passed staring at the window… or going to Albert Hein on my own…those were the best. And I liked it. I also enjoyed the area of the lake. Or the canal where the boats were, wherever that was… Maybe that’s where the duck comes from. I’m sorry I can’t stop thinking of it… qua qua qua sorry Su

Yesterday Tiago came here again. He arrived at two o’clock in the morning after playing music. It went bad for him. No one showed up… I haven’t slept much today…Yesterday he told me that he was also scared of me, I asked him why and he said “Because it’s so good. It’s unknown. And the unknown is scary.” I’m sorry to mix this stuff in your email for the work, but look I guess we can…

From the neighbourhood: the houses, so social…Jesus, total social architecture…I also remember the absence of number in the doors or in some floors, something quite different from here…isn’t it? And the light from the snow; the quietness of the snow; waiting for the snow. And you there now. I’d love to go seeing you, of course! Maybe it will be possible. That is also my dream, a lot before the residency, it grew when I was there: we’d be together in the Netherlands and it would be awesome. Do you remember this dream of mine?

I really like you. I’m very cheesy today. It must be from the night. I’m happy. I don’t know how for how long will it last but I’m happy. And I’m curious to know if you tried something after our phone call. I checked the meaning of the word “serendipity” that I didn’t know…It magically fits all I’ve written…we’re in sintony!!!

I’m now searching for Herzog’s book to transcribe the first page and I’ll have to say goodbye. Believe in magic, it’s possible after that:

Fitzcarraldo: !por el cocinero de sus perros!
!por Verdi!! Por Rossini! ! POr Caruso!
Dom Araujo: !Por Fitzcarraldo, el conquistador de lo inútil!
Fitzcarraldo: !Tan cierto como que estoy parado delante de usted, un dia voy a llevar gran ópera a la selva!
!Soy... mayoría!
!Soy los billones!
!Soy el teatro en la jungla!
!Soy el inventor del caucho!
!Sólo a través de mí el caucho se hace palabra!

Dialogo de la pelicula Fitzcarraldo

(Fitzcarraldo: Now for the cook of his dogs!
Now for Verdi! For Rossini! ! By Caruso!
Sun Araujo:! For Fitzcarraldo, the conquistador of the useless!
Fitzcarraldo:! As surely as I stand before you, one day I will bring grand opera to the jungle!
! I am ... Most!
! I am the billions!
! I'm the theatre in the jungle!
! I am the inventor of rubber!
! Me only through the rubber becomes word!

Dialogue from the movie Fitzcarraldo)

There’s also the German version of the book, the original one, actually!! Maybe there’s also an English one…

Don’t kill the neighbours, and don’t take too much cold, can you use the stove? Look, don’t forget that fear comes from the unknown, it’s because you can’t understand the rules that they scare you, don’t forget they are people like you.

A tender hug,


Part 4, choreographing a service, setting relations

Part 4

20, 21, 22, 23

This piece of writing sets itself to be a rhizomatic sketch book through the notes taken through out the period of September, October and November 2011, spent on various visits, stays and post-reflections on the location of Kanalenejland, through a residency at the art space of Expodium, Utrecht, NL. As a journal is meant to be read as a travel log, from day one to day... from part to part.

Last days of residency.

As i approach the last days of the residency, and after accomplishing the making of diesel, with the cooking show-chemistry lesson, the second question emerges: What would be the possibility to leave something sustainable, something that would last through time, something that would work on maintaining a relationship. What is really left for the local inhabitants of the context of the artistic practice?

study of what a service is

question of maintenance
, how to maintain a relation outside of the residency frame
, and issues of duration
compilation for service brochure on Do-it-Yourself vegetable diesel using Mercedes-Benz cars, Arizona 2011

 service |ˈsərvis|
1 the action of helping or doing work for someone.
• an act of assistance.
• assistance or advice given to customers during and after the sale of goods.
• short for service industry.
• the action or process of serving food and drinks to customers.
• a period of employment with a company or organization.
• employment as a servant.
• the provision of the necessary maintenance work for a machine.
• a periodic routine inspection and maintenance of a vehicle or other machine.
2 a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water.
• a public department or organization run by the government.
3 a ceremony of religious worship according to a prescribed form; the prescribed form for such a ceremony.

be at someone's service be ready to assist someone whenever possible.
be of service be available to assist someone.
in service 1 in or available for use. 2 dated employed as a servant.
out of service not available for use.
see service serve in the armed forces : he saw service in both world wars. • be used : the building later saw service as a blacksmith's shop.

ORIGIN Old English (denoting religious devotion or a form of liturgy), from Old French servise or Latin servitium ‘slavery,’ from servus ‘slave.’ The early sense of the verb (mid 19th cent.) was [be of service to, provide with a service.]

photo collage of various mercedes-benz sale points, Utrecht 2011 
The basic idea would be a trading of services. I would trade the know how of making diesel, and diesel itself (maybe soap in the future, with the process leftover of glycerin) for other possible available services (learning the language arabic, learning diesel engine mechanics, etc)

cooperative-service identity-logo study 'woe laat is het? alles moet weg!', utrecht 2011

how to make a service of exchange in location, one in which two parties gain by direct trade, that both benefit from each sharing/investiment of time?

i quickly make a have / need list to map out my field of potentialities, and start crossing out. i arrive to 'arabic lessons, cooking diesel, motor lessons, cooking soap, cooking food, trading skills, ballet classes, garage space, food', among others.

i decide to make a service center by appointment of exchange - the process of cooking diesel and soap from waste materials, in exchange for arabic lessons and motor lessons.

only after living 10 years in The Netherlands, i realized that Portugal, Europe's California, is as much down south of europe, as just north of africa, and many of 'us' here, have Moorish physical traces. But this history is not so well documented in the academia, partly due to the influence of roman catholic and monarchy power in the written documentation of history as-is.
partly im curious to know more of a past i carry without knowing.

one of the 5 detroit wonders i'm attempting to gain experience and knowledge is diesel motors connected to dynamos and power converter, commonly know as electricity generators. jeff, from omnicorpdetroit, used road bicycles to charge car batteries. why not a 6.2 detroit diesel motor?

→ research and build <image: generator study collage - v-diesel power grids and installation for a working and living space - life off the grid series >

1) transmission of knowledge between two agents

how to cook diesel?

lesson - performance - demonstration 1on1, and the explanation of various methods and processors

note → show image from jeane and eric meeting in southwest Detroit

j location of waste oil and diesel processing for auto fuel, Detroit 2010

2) instalation:  demonstration lecture laboratory/ transfer of knowledge station for two
narrative : the chemical process of waste oil plus alcohol plus catalyzer equals diesel and glycerine

diesel station after second, class with stage designer hein drost from heindrost.nl, october 23rd 2012           
project local service installation on expodium kanalenejland for 1on1 knowledge transfer - the passing of skills, Utrecht 2011

note  → map process of use of process waste - glycerine  → chemical process of saponification  → making of soap, solid and liquid

note →  check high volume diesel processors prototype examples, to map different possibilities according logistics of singular contexts of intervention.

making of service brochure :

note → on rewriting history and memory re-inscription or by the way 'who was Diesel again'?

Diesel patent in US, held by Busch-Sulzer Bros.-Diesel Engine Company, 1913 and original german diesel patent by Rudolf Diesel, 1892

note → possible service education sector - story telling / brochure example

<diesel - patent - factory - dresden boat - storytelling>

this is a story.

A story about a man. A simple man, like many others, one that had dreams for a better world and make some gold.

These dreams took him on a travel, a travel he would never come back from.

It started from Munich, the city where he lived and worked. From there, a train he took, to Antwerp he went.

Once in Antwerp, he boarded on SS Dresden, an steam-engine english passenger ship, which know for the marvelous north sea route, between the Hook of Holland and Harwich, England, from 1897 to 1915. The ship was built in 1897 by the Earle Company at Hull for the Great Eastern Railway.

It was back in the good old days, before commercial airlines, before all these elevator non-places flavoured called airports, airplanes, speedtrains, and the  likes took over the idea of traveling. Time had a while different meaning back then.

This man, was an inventor. He envisioned a future beyond the usual same'o-same'o. A break beyond the established status quo, beyond the sitting power.

In his briefcase, he carefully carried the plans for a whole new factory, where his dream was to take place. London was to take the schematics for this future, and give it a space to take form.

He was on his way to meet with representatives of Consolidated Diesel Manufacturing Ltd. with the view of opening a factory to build his engine.

On the night September 29, 1913, he dined aboard ship and then retired for the evening, leaving a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call. He went for a walk on the deck, seeing the boat sail away from the Antwerp arbor, leaving behind a continental Europe on the brick of war.
Excited with the coming meeting, awaiting for him in London, he retired to his chambers early in the evening.

The next morning, the wake up call service found his bedding undone, and he was nowhere to be found, neither his suitcase containing the plan schematics for this new future.

On October 9 the crew of the Dutch fishing boat Coertsen, pulled a badly decomposed
body of a man from the channel. They removed his personal effects and returned the corpse
to the sea. The items, which included an eyeglass case, a wallet, a pocket knife and a pill case
were later identified by a son, Eugen as having belonged to his father.

dresden passenger boat, service between harwich and antwerp postcard, the german submarine uboat uc22 launch at hamburg harbour, the uc22 maps of its theater of operations, dresden equipped as HMS Louvain, an armed boarding steamer, last commander to navigate the ship dresden/hms louvain.

Speculation was rife in the newspapers as reporters sought answers to the mystery. Some concluded that he was murdered by German agents to prevent his engine system from falling into British hands on the eve of the First World War. Another theory was that he was killed by hitmen hired by the petroleum industry. Still others decided that he committed suicide. The later was unlikely as he was reported to be "excited about the possibility that his invention would become more widespread." About the only theory not advanced was the simple possibility that he had accidentally fallen overboard and drowned. To this date the mystery has never been solved.

The SS Dresden, the crime scene itself, didn't live much much longer.

In 1915, it was taken over by the British Royal Navy as a Armed boarding steamer, and re-named HMS Louvain, to take part in the First World War.

On the 21 January 1918, HMS Louvain was sunk by the U-Boat SC22, a German submarine, in the Aegean Sea.

Documents detailing the sinking and subsequent court-martial, show that HMS Louvain was on voyage from Malta to Mudros and was torpedoed at 9.30pm, on 20th January 1918, whilst passing through the Zea channel (between the islands of Zea, or Kea, and Makro Nisi). The ship sank almost at once, the engine room bulkhead having been burst by the explosion.

In the War Mudros on the Greek island Lemnos was an allied base in the Aegean, fifty miles south-west of the Dardanelles and an important staging post for military actions around Gallipoli.

The court-martial found that the large loss of life was due partly to the explosion itself and partly to the rush for lifeboats, their over-crowding and the lack of supervision in lowering them.

Louvain had not been zig-zagging, as she should have been, but as the captain, Montague George Easton and the officer of the watch went down with the ship, no blame could be apportioned.

The U-Boat SC22 belonged to the UC II series, which had a revolutionary design in the submarine series, due to its diesel engines. This unit only, counted up to 22 ships sunk in the First World War.

Built in the shipyard Blohm&Voss in Hamburg, launched on 1st February 1916 and surrendered to France on the 3rd February 1919. It was broken up at Landerneau in July 1921.

With the sinking of HMS Louvain, an armed boarding steamer, earlier known as SS Dresden, a  commercial passenger steamer, 224 people, including its commander, Montague George Easton disappeared, all joining the professor Rudolf von Diesel. A snake eating its own tail.

The end

Secrets of a poet

Supervlaai (shopping center kanaleneiland)

I seat on a table next to the window. On the right, a group of men talks lively. They are not speaking in Dutch. On the left, a man, reading the newspaper. In a quick look, I see that it’s a group of four men. On the left, next to the door, two women talk, facing each other. A nice image: I see the face of the woman that has her back turned to me, reflected on the mirror: her expressions, while talking to the other one, I see her blonde hair touching the shoulders and the blue eyes. Two men at the entrance to the shopping, on the inside, they talk and gesticulate. One has a hat made of wool and a rosy face, brown hair and eys and dark skin. Behind the counter, a blonde, middle aged woman, handling the cakes, with care, like combing their hair. The man with the newspaper goes outside. He is bald, wears glasses and a grey suit. A girl enters, points at the cakes and changes a few words with the blond woman. Someone seats at the table from the bald man who left. I turn my head to see who is it. It’s him that looks at me, intrigued. Two women are now discussing about cakes with the blond lady. From the right, a male voice asking me in Dutch something from which I can only understand the word “writing”, “Creative writing” my rehearsed answer. I wrote poetry for 40 years, ah yes? yes, and then I stopped, you can’t make any money from that. Humhum, I work as a translator now, ah! (this time I show some interest), which languages?, English and German to Dutch. Do you come from Italy? No, Portugal, do you live here?, no, in Rotterdam, I’m visiting some friends. What do you write about? About Kanaleneiland. I live here for 7 years and I like it, never had problems, they say it’s the worst neighbourhood from the Netherlands, but I like it. So do I. I lived a few years in Scotland, didn’t like it. Edinburgh. Never felt at home. I found a home here, it’s not the same as my own, but another one. If I could speak the language, I would feel more at home. I don’t remember the answer anymore, he talks now about his plans. Writing a novel, translating a Spanish famous book into Dutch, become a publisher, plans and more plans. Studying again. Philosophy. But 1500euros it’s expensive. Do you miss Edinburgh? No, never felt at home there. But I’m counting on going there soon to spend a few months, I have a couple friends there that I don’t see for 20 years, but we keep in touch. They don’t like the British. When the Dutch team won the British team on football, I was watching the game in a bar, they started telling each other that I was Dutch, everyone greeting me and paying me beers hugging me, that was great! Talks with a smile.  I don’t know how, but the conversation went on and on, words are like cherries, one pushes another. A refined man. Big, with round glasses. Lonely. He tells me about his past, the grants he won in the 70’s, as if the everyday would have distracted him, year after year, in his vulnerable sensibility, and he stopped doing what he really liked. He tells me about Slauerhoff, he knows Pessoa, and a lot more about writing.

He says that poetry is a sad thing. That he asks himself if poetry always has to be a sad thing. That he is researching about “poetry moods”, and that his friends tell him that his poetry is sad although he doesn’t consider himself a sad person. Maybe he is and doesn’t know. I travel for a minute and come back to my seat to listen. But I’m 56 years old. I don’t think I will have the time to do all that. A friend has recently lost her garndmother, she was 101 years old – I’m sure you’ll have time for all that and even more. I lost my mothe rlast year. She was 98 years old. I thought she would reach 100, but she didn’t want. I came here to be close to her, I was her favorite. You have brothers? We’re many, a catholic family, like you. I’m not a catholic, although I come from a catholic country. He orders a coffee and asks me if I’d like a coffee too. I’m sorry, I have to go to Alberthein. I also have things to do, but will take it easy today. Another 5 minutes of talk. Coffee arrives. It seems that he knows the blonde lady, I feel a certain familiarity, (at this time, both the blond lady and the group of men have an hear on our conversation and sneak through the corner of the eye) maybe he comes here everyday. I say goodbye, he shakes my hand. Have a good day. The same for you. I take my time shopping, when I pass by on my way back he is not there anymore.

Public secrets from the window
(later on, back to Auriolaan 98)

Two kids arrive and start playing fottball, both wearing sneakers and training suit, one wers a leather coat and the other a grey vest. They hit a grey car, that is parked just next to them. Eventually they hit the antenna for the radio. On the right, a group of women is carrying pieces of wood to a car parked on the walking board. An Audi A6. A girl with braidings runs oput of the bulding to jump into a metal tube and turn her head up side down, her braidings touching the floor. A man on a balcony in front observing the women caryring the pieces of wood, as he smokes a cigarrette. The girl runs again to do the same figure, like a sloth. The man goes back inside. The woman locks the door of the car. The kids continue playing football as they talk continuously.  

Letters to Verónica: first letter

October 17 2011
8.29 pm
Location: Kanaleneiland

Dear V.,

Here I seat and write you. In this empty room, that works as a space for presenting events, João’s tomatoes next to one of the windows, the reflex from the lamps on the other one. I feel like in a kind of aquarium, in a room with no curtains. I can’t see much through for the outside, but I know that you can see through from the outside to the inside. But I don’t think there’s anyone in the streets. We couldn’t turn the central heater on, so it’s shit cold and I have a small heater that Nikos brought from Amsterdam. And I think that it would never occurred to us, when you came to this neighbourhood that I could be here now! I don’t resist addressing you, sharing all this with you; I hope it won’t hunt you with sad and obsolete images from your staying here. As you were saying during summer, it’s not easy to find places to write in the streets, there are no places to simply “be” in the streets. From the things I know about the urban planning, it seems that it was a deliberate decision, so that homeless people and the “problematic youth” wouldn’t have where to land. The neighbourhood is also small, which doesn’t leave much choice in terms of places for people to join together. It’s cold and there are not many people in the streets, it’s actually a bit quiet. This week the kids don’t have classes, so I can see them at each block, in the pseudo-playgrounds that grow as mushrooms at each corner. They look quite cheeky, but with a certain grace (until the day they mess around with me =D).  Today there were a couple kids, with a plastic tractor, a bit bigger than a tricycle. Green. It reminded me of “The straight story” by David Lynch, have you seen it? The guy who crosses America in a lawn tractor to see his brother? Yes, but this ones were hanging around back and forth, until one tries to lift the front wheel up (as if in a motorcycle) to fall right on the floor. Too good.

This space is cool, good for working. (I don’t resist sharing this with you: there might be someone here with belly problems, the toilet always smells incredibly well, I looked up and there are three spray cans from Breeze and a box with around 20 of that stuff that you put on the toilet (to give it a nice smell), what makes me wonder why would someone buy an entire box of that stuff!)

They prevented me to be a bit cautious, but so far no incidents. In fact, today I was trying to walk on the streets without being noticed, or let’s give it a pompous name comme il faut, (this is an art project, after all): I was researching for strategies of invisibility ahahah! It sounds better, doesn’t it? In fact, I simply walked through the neighbourhood, block after block. I specially like the place with a view through the river, and the shelter under the bridge. But almost not one passes there. This all story about public space actually came from my drive to watch people. And I couldn’t watch them in their homes. Also the space would be small, it would lack dynamic, movement, interaction. It’s not so much the idea of questioning design or urban planning; what fascinates me is to watch people, their expressions, gestures, movements, interactions, the social choreography of the thing. I’ve read the pdf from Claire Bishop’s book you asked me to download from the internet. I have to print it or order it (interrupted by a noise coming from the ceiling: I don’t know what the neighbour does, either he is an elephant or he has an elephant at home =D) it talks about Maria Lind, Cândida already talked about her, she seems to be a cool one.

Past Saturday I came to attend two presentations, one from João (that I mentioned above; he tried to grow vegetables to eat and the result was two tomatoes: one is getting mellow), he is Portuguese and made a project on how to transform waste oil into biodiesel: fantastic research and amazing performance with an accent that makes it really witty. The other one was from Nikos, a great Greek guy that introduced what he calls “Night Walks”, a series of walks through the neighbourhood that gathers more and more people, he refers to it as baby steps towards a collaboration. Beautiful and unpretentious. I think that if life wasn’t a (fuck, how you say “seripendity” in Portuguese? Pause for google translate…), if life wasn’t a Serendipidade (ahah, very good, isn’t it?), well, if life wasn’t such a fool seripendity, I could convince you to come here.

(“Chance favours only the prepared mind”
Louis Pasteur

I found this in wikipedia, beautiful, isn’t it? It’s almost like: “When the student is ready, the master appears”)

Look, I found this, maybe you’ll like it, might be the kind of “The book of embraces”:

(Sometimes I feel a shudder through the spine for being alone here, in a room without curtains…)

(ups! shit, I heard a noise from the stairs…)

(ahah, if the neighbour comes to ask for sugar, I open the door with a bird gun, very ridiculous, ahah!)

(Pause to send a stupid text…)

Well, this email starts having so many parentheses that by now it’s all parentheses and trivial things with no interest, which makes me think that I found the track of words… and the conversation has lost the few seriousness that had on the beginning…

 V., your friend just managed to turn the hitting on!

(12.33 pm now)
We tried many times during the morning and it wouldn’t work and now I just went there and zás! It’s working… I’m a bit worried that it now has a huge flame, seems like the all thing is burning on the inside, I guess it must be normal, it’s warming up… It also makes some funny noises… I’ll keep an eye on it until going to bed… I sent an email to the guys saying that they didn’t have to worry about the lack of heating, that in fact in seemed like the all thing was burning inside; I think they might have felt a lot more relieved.

I was thinking something: that it would help me a lot for this project if I could write you as part of my research. But that would mean that possibly what I write you would be published. Do you mind? Besides helping me, which is before anything else a need from me, I also think that if you don’t feel exposed, that could be a way of dedicating it to you, partially. Please let me know how you feel about that. It comes to my mind that I really like to have you in my life, otherwise to whom would I write all this?

Thousand kisses,

Sneaking and sharing secrets

1. Anticipation
The week before I went to Kanaleneiland, I was trying to make a ruff sketch on starting points for my research there. I inevitably picked up a book that actually is a transcription from a conference that Derrida gave in Coimbra (my hometown in Portugal), about his writings on hospitality. It is a bilingual edition (Portuguese/French) and through the all book you have translator’s notes trying to negotiate the meanings of the words in different languages, in a triangle of tensions between French, Portuguese and English languages, as Derrida often plays with the meaning of the words in different languages. At the end of the book, in one of the notes, he explains has the word “hôte” in French means both “host” and “guest” in English and  “hóspede” / “hospedeiro” in Portuguese. He also draws attention for the fact that “hostis” in Latin, both means “host” and “enemy”. I was thinking a lot in terms of defence mechanisms that one develops for what we don’t know and what we don’t expect. I also defined some key words so that I can try to map my research and have a certain idea of what I’m I talking about or what am I interested in.

Keywords before sneak week:
- Hôte
- Encounter
- Translation

2. The world is a pea: from Lisbon to Kanaleneiland through tango, going to Buenos Aires and from Lisbon to Kanaleneiland through Rotterdam, passing by Porto, finally meeting in Lisbon again.

Trying to make the long story short, in Summer 2008, the year before I came to the Netherlands, I moved from Lisbon, (where I stayed for two years), to Porto, (where I had been living before). By that time, my friend Verónica (from Lisbon), had met a Dutch guy in her tango classes, and as he eventually returned to the Netherlands, that summer she decided to come to the Netherlands for two weeks to meet him. He was living in Utrecht. I moved to Porto, she moved to Buenos Aires and they splited soon after. In August 2009 I moved to the Netherlands to start my MFA at Piet Zwart Institue in Rotterdam. In the end of July 2011, soon after finishing my MFA, I receive and invitation from Expodium to meet them. I meet them and I get introduced to the project in Kanaleneiland. I go to Portugal for summer vacations and spend two weeks in V.’s house in Lisbon, where I tell her about the project and get to know, after two years, that this was the neighbourhood where she stayed when she came to Utrecht.

3. Kanaleneiland: immediate experiences and unfiltered first reactions
During Sneak week, I spend my days outside, walking around the neighbourhood and trying to have a first contact with it. At the end of the afternoon, I would come to the apartment, the shelter, and reflect on what I had seen and felt. On the first evening of my staying, I immediately felt like I had to talk to my friend V. about that, since we had speculated so much in our Lisbon meeting last summer. I wrote her a letter, sharing some intimate, embarrassing thoughts, from friend to friend and first impressions about the place.

4. Reflecting on first experiences and mediating them
The second evening from my staying here, I was trying to rationalize my thoughts and structuring them. I came across to the movie: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), about the life of a boy that has a dysfunctional immune system. He can’t have contact with unfiltered air, as it might kill him, so he is forced to live in incubator conditions. His condition forces his family, his neighbours, everyone that surrounds him to find ways of trying to relate to him, despite the initial fears for him being so different. Also, it forces the institutions (school) to adapt so that they can receive him. But to start with, it forces him to build defences so that he can deal with his own condition and relate with others. (Despite from any criticism that it might be tacky or cheesy, I found it really striking.)
I selected three images from the film:

1. The boy is having classes from home through live streaming and interacting with his classmates by making fun of the teacher while he is with his back turned.

2.  The boy asks his friend to jump in her horse above his incubator so that he can come close to the sensation of riding a horse.

3.  The boy goes to school in a special suit that looks like an astronaut suit.

So, back to Kanaleneiland... If I’m invading a space that is not exactly mine in this neighbourhood, as I don’t exactly live there  (and by “invading” I mean to try to come close to the people who actually live there, by the purposes of doing a project, but motivated by the genuine drive to learn from a shared experience), I thought that somehow I’ll expose the people that I will be relating to, by delivering that experience to an audience. So maybe for the game to be fair, I should also expose myself by delivering some of my intimate thoughts unrendered and unfiltered.

5. Inhibiting defence mechanisms: mediating the experience without filters
I finally decided to publish the emails that I’ve been changing with Verónica and the ones that I will be writing in the future without any kind of editing, which is kind of uncomfortable for me in a way because it’s a private ongoing conversation between friends, with thoughts that I normally wouldn’t share in public, as they are very spontaneous and unconsidered and therefore not so politically correct. I will publish the first ones as soon as I manage to translate them, as we communicate in Portuguese. We agreed in changing the names of the people that we mention, to protect their privacy. (As I write this, I think that actually by translating the emails into English language, I am already mediating the experience.)

Keywords after first week research:
- Defence mechanisms
- Immune system
- Mediation
- Exposure
- Translation


Part 3, launching a service, the event, the making of

Part 3
10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

This piece of writing sets itself to be a rhizomatic sketch book through the notes taken through out the period of September, October and Nove
mber 2011, spent on various visits, stays and post-reflections on the location of Kanalenejland, through a residency at the art space of Expodium, Utrecht, NL. As a journal is meant to be read as a travel log, from day one to day... from part to part.

the event, the making of

making a diesel service launch performance - cooking show + chemistry lesson + history channel
the idea of making a collective of diesel making fan club
the collective has the potential to reinforce a damaged community
analyze the process of an attempt of translating a Detroit strategy within NL borders

preparation of performance - service launch

on this coming 15th of october, a world wide protest to occupy symbolic public spaces around the globe is being called upon and organized.
a protest against the current affairs of things, against the misuse of power by the greater organizations, public and private, governments and corporations (if its still a valid distinction).

by coincidence, or synchrony, my presentation and nikos', on the 'translation #4 - here, after there, MI'  is on this same date.

though i believe in protest as a strategy to create changes of a communal perception, as a strategy it has its shortcomings. immobilization against a society of contest, of achievements, like ours, in itself leads to the failure of really contesting something on a practical level. it can be useful as a social jolt, as a temporary immobilization, performing/symbolizing a going there, stop, change direction and, go here. As a call for consciousness of where we are, and where we really want to go, revisiting a shared utopia, as an horizon that clearly only gives itself as a direction to walk, to aim ones actions. And to never truly arrive.

for me, this day raises the question: 'how did this society ended in one that protest against the misuse of power became a common habit? one's existence reduced to the necessity of protest to claim what is rightfully and lawfully 'ours' as citizenship rights?

(or why i rather contest for the use of power)

→ power → heat → life → energy → fire  → coal → 19th c. → steam boats →  20th c. → automobiles → petrol → gasoline → leftovers → waste → diesel → motor → generator → electricity

Do-It-Ourselves culture and absent governments in the face of crisis, one sided solutions


front page of a 'Do-It-Yourself' Vegetable Diesel manual from 1999.

note → research further on biopower - biopolitics as an event, negri & arendt in 'Common Wealth', 2003

note → more further research : analyze mechanisms of sense of flight and sense of ownership within a culture whilst at crisis

making laboratory
<making off - last tunes>

to print:

the night before, the 14th

launch service performance

the night before, putting the car tags, plus gps map and any photo that might be visible from spycam

got two visitors at night, that came by the flat front door. one was dries, 30alot, from maroco plus a older friend.
dries did the talking, while the older one stayed observing from the back. dries was confused with what i meant in the card he had found in his mercedes windshield. i explained my plan, to trade 1hour of teaching how to make diesel, for 1hour of his - learning some mechanics on mercedes diesel cars, or some arab words, sufism, any kind of knowledge he could transfer to another person. he had some questions about the diesel damaging the engine, and in my broken dutch, i explained the process of cleaning the diesel after processing, to remove the excess of potential corroding or clogging substances. he asked me to exchange phone numbers and a let's call next week and good night thanks for coming ended the meeting. oh, i forgot to mention he was curious what space was the one i was living. if is it from the city hall, or what... art projects? another one,  more white dutch kids coming here? no, im portuguese,  im like you, an emigrant, and yeah, here in the north i'm also black or something. ah... oh by the way, are you living here?  yeah, for the time being  for how long are you staying? well... thats the problem, aaahhh... 1 month only? hum... ah well, g'nite, shalam.
the second bashed the door. they were 5 or 6 and shouted words. broke the lobby door open, came into the building. bashed some more inside the building stairwell. i froze. i got a hammer into my right hand, and double locked the door. the neighbor from some flat above this one, came outside, screamed to them through the stairs.
they ran to the back of the building, under the living room window. i could hear them whispering under the living room window. she called the cops, and 5 or so minutes they arrived and circled the building. the kids ran away.
i was left with a feeling it was my wrong doing, that i had triggered something i shouldn't have.
then again, im not responsible for others violence.
the next day, i held two performances. the one in the afternoon, for the local communities. i made some mint tea, and hid all the beer bottles. no one appeared. i was expecting that, as it is a known friction between evacuees and new comers. though the night before, dries was already my entry point to start a potential service cooperative. he drove one of the mercedes benz diesel, and was interested in coming for a cooking demonstration. 
sad, a lot of mint tea went to waste.

the performance for the evening audience took the for of a Do-It-yourself cooking show, mixed with a chemistry class, leading to a 20 minutes talk show of Q&A's with the audience, relating the work process and its ontology.

note → the performative economy of a cooking show, a chemistry class, a talk show q&a's.

idea → perform a post-industrial narrative to frame content.

narrative to perform:
1) chemistry class
        -identify process
        -identify components
        -explain context

2) cooking show
        -demonstrate chemical process of Transesterification
        -transmit the cooking knowledge of the chemical process to an audience
        -explain context

3) talk show of FAQ's (frequently asked questions)
        -during the 20 minutes needed for the chemical process to happen
        -talk with the audience about the ontology of the act in the various levels of it
        -wrap up with the end of the process and bottling the diesel in jack daniels 700ml and 1000ml bottles.


Night Walkers #3 (This Used To Be My Playground Session)

NITGH WALKERS #3 was a guide to Kanaleneiland's playgrounds by May Linh Ly. 
There is an insane amount of playgrounds in the area! 
Mai Lihn was not only questioning their presence and function but also the notion of the playground. Her route included apart from what you would stereotypically call a 'playground', all those spots in the area that evoke a certain feeling of leisure and play. 
Eighteen playgrounds over one hour and a half of walking in the night.
Some fenced, some out in the open, most of them in front of the entrance of the flats, others hidden in the labyrinth of the apartment complex. 


Silde at Marshalllaan

Fenced playground at Marshalllaan

Left overs of playground

Basketball field funded by ABN AMRO in Marco Pololaan

Basketball field funded by ABN AMRO in Marco Pololaan

Tennis court at Marco Pololaan

Mai Lihn's childhood playground

Mai Lihn's childhood playground

New 'front door' playground at Culumbuslaan

Playground at Pontekoelaan

Playground at Pontekoelaan

Playground at Pontekoelaan

Leisure spot under the bridge



Our stay in Kanaleneiland is coming to an end. We are moving out within a week making space for new artists to join. 
But so far no packing has been done. Quite the opposite actually. Thoughts, observations and try outs have been 'piling up' at the Auriollaan apartment, and we are extensively  working on putting all pieces together towards  Saturday's  event. 

Check the following information or come unprepared.

15.10.2011 | 20.00-23.00 | locatie:KANALENEILAND (Auriollaan 98)
João Evangelista | Nikos Doulos

As a follow-up of their three previous translation stations, all based on their experiences in Detroit, Nikos Doulos and Joao Evangelista present the fourth and final translation station, this time in Kanaleneiland, Utrecht. The translation stations are stops in the process of testing experiences and knowledge learned in Detroit, against different contexts. As Expodium assigns the artists they send to Detroit to get their hands dirty in order to come up with projects that root in the urban situation there, this method is also applied to Kanaleneiland. Therefore, Translation Station #4 focuses on finding an appropriate way of applying the knowledge gained in Detroit to the social context of Kanaleneiland.

João Evangelista | SERVICE LAUNCH 1& 2

What proverbial power lies dorment in a neighborhood like Kanaleneiland? What groups of people already have their own productive way of looking after their own? João Evangelista will be showing a straightforward way of producing power, kick-starting a communal way of working on a shared interest.

Nikos Doulos | ARE YOU PEOPLE?

Nikos Doulos' performance is rooted in collecting information obtained while taking baby steps towards a collective doing. During his stay in Kanaleneiland this last month, he hooked up with many local artists and initiatives and tested several ways of operating as a collective, focusing on the 'why' rather than the 'know how' of such an activity. The emphasis was put on its necessity as a format for doing and creating a sense of 'belonging to' instead of it being a top-down initiative.

And of course one more NIGHT WALKERS session! 


NIGHT WALKERS is a group of artists and residents in Kanaleneiland, Utrecht. 
They initiate night walks around the area. 
Meeting point: Front porch at Auriollaan 98!
allow yourself to get affected by the urban night-scape.


Intermission : issues on translations

Clearing the standing ground...

As I initiate this 4th translation station from the Detroit residency in 2010, within the residency in Kanaleneiland, I find myself attempting to create a bridge between the two realities, between the two territories.

But before I start, I feel an eminent necessity to question where I stand. Questioning the act and its content, in order to define clearly the grounds for a solid position.

What it means to translate?

'off the grid' architecture studies
                                                                      first nursery - planting detroit tomatoes, amsterdam 2011

The first image that occurs, commonly, is the translation between languages (written or spoken), that a text is capable of being expressed in one other language.

A second case, would be the translation of this text into an image, for example, the conversion from one medium into another.

In a last case, more technical, and even archaic, refers to the ancient removal of a saint's relics to one other place, the process of moving an item from one place to another, involving a re-territorialization of that item and its aeffects.

(i cant avoid thinking about the newspaper article released today on the coming open auction of Hitler's personal items, ranging from his reading glasses to a unique copy of his Mein Kampf, signed to his cell mate, Rudolf Hess after their failed coup in Munich, in 1923 - who let them out?! – though jokes on Hitler in a raising nationalistic Europe are not taken lightly and got the film maker Lars von Triers interrogated by the police.)

The origin of the word 'translation' can be traced from late middle english, from french 'tranférer', and initially from latin 'transferre'. This last construction is the juxtaposition of trans- 'across' with ferre - 'to bear'.

So I wonder what I am (capable of) carrying across these two territories, Detroit and Kanaleneiland, what is the baggage that comes along with me, as an artist and as a person.

One of the so-called risks of translation is the 'inappropriate spill-over of source-language idiom and usage into the target-language translation'. Spill-overs import unique source-language loanwords that enrich the target languages, creating hybrids named as 'multi-languages'.

(i cant avoid thinking of Monte's Span'english, the playful shift between english and spanish, spoken by many Mexicans living in the United States, or Portuñol which I speak fluently every time I encounter my neighbor Spaniards, kicking portuguese words out of my mouth with a spanish accent - its physical phonetics, which is the most affective part of the bodily knowledge of a language, and easily emphasized with)

Next to these excesses, another usual mishap happens within the gaps between languages and their localized meanings, between territories and their boundaries. Some years ago I stumbled upon the following text on ‘Mistranslations and 'failed advertising campaigns' which reveals this gap in a ingenious manner:

1. Translations.
Aware of context I do an internet search on the phrase “failed advertising campaigns”. There, amongst the frantic exhortations ‘your company can’t afford a failed advertising campaign’, the adds for subscription copywriting courses and the lengthy theoretical agonising about corporations who have lost their market share, the sites I’m most struck by are those which feature a jocular catalogue of advertising blunders in which product names and advertising slogans are ‘humorously’ mistranslated.
Scattered on the web – in the humour pages of lads magazines (last updated 1998), in the ‘miscellaneous’ and ‘funny stuff’ pages of so many computer programmers, chemists, students, bankers, teenagers and in sites hosted everywhere from Rochdale to Perth – these assembled one liners have little status as truth, floating free and far from whatever articles, news items or gossip that may have borne them long long ago.
**In Chinese, the Kentucky Fried Chicken slogan "finger-lickin' good" was translated and used on billboards reading ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken "eat your fingers off."’
The car whose name turned out to mean “tiny male genitals” in Mexican street-slang, and its rival which was accidentally named in translation the “Won’t Go”, the billboard slogan that became "bite the wax tadpole" in Taiwan or "female horse stuffed with wax" depending on the dialect, the magazine food ads that declared in bold erroneous Spanish translation “it takes a hard man to sexually arouse a chicken”.
These are puerile whispers. Insignificant texts. They are scattered stories. But if their assertions have no more than the status of a rumour, we should\ also know that all rumours have, if not a truth, then at least a shadow of reason, a frank if distorted heart, a core, a purpose, a problem to work on.
These stories (like all stories of mistranslation) mark the power of language to cause confusion instead of the transparency it promises. These stories (none longer than 35 words) celebrate that confusion as again and again the best laid plans of powerful corporations are setback, wrecked or ridiculed by a mistranslated word or a misplaced emphasis, transformed by a shift in cultural or linguistic context. From the mistranslations (as from all failures) seep other truths, other realities. The gap between aspiration and the world’s true condition is made visible in accident.
In fact I don’t really like the stories so much as I like the fact that they exist. That against the branded tide this more or less insignificant sub-genre of viral narrative spreads its inexorable message - that the rich and well resourced are also foolish, that the same language with which they enthral a globe is also slippery, unpredictable, that words themselves can double back and bite the hand that bred them. That the mighty can fall.
In Taiwan, the translation of the Pepsi slogan "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" came out as "Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead."
Here the mistranslation makes a promise of preposterous and frightening magnitude. But it only serves to point us back with fresh clarity to the original which, though lacking occult tendencies, is easily as preposterous and offensive an assertion. Pepsi will not, we can assume, bring our ancestors back from the dead yet nor will it, bar the effects of caffeine and glucose, make us come alive.
The toothpaste inadvertently given the same name as a local porn magazine, the hotdog brand translated as Big Cocks, the new car model translated as “the masturbator”, the slogan for a fountain pen which when mistranslated boasted how it couldn’t leak in your pocket and would never make you pregnant.
The content of these micro narratives is relentlessly twisted, scatological, sexual, perverse, destructive, morbid, bizarre. It is the chatter of advertising’s unconscious, made visible in the slips of its in any case slippery tongue. To some extent these mistranslated slogans posit the reverse of advertising – the reverse of publicly acceptable language – in which, from beneath the promises of health, wealth, coolness and sexual pleasure seep slogans of death, impotence, failure, impropriety, decay .
Amen to that.

'off the grid' architecture studies
knowledge transfer on creating a power system 'off the grid' for own work at Festival a/d Werf, Utrecht 2011

The second part of this text, I keep for wondering what is it the content of these translation series.
Beyond any mystified and cryptic word, such as new strategies, urban translations, creative responses and the like, what was really out there, back in Detroit?
What was it, that those 2 months and a bit more, gave me?
The definition of common, separates into two domains, which are related, but completely distinct.
One is the representation of the earth and its ecosystems. The other, is the results of human creativity (ideas, knowledges, codes, aeffects, languages, and the like, which are potentially open and shared).
It is this other representation of the common that those two months in Detroit gave me access to, the re-presentation of the common within a territory that has been completely exhausted, and abandoned by Capitalism under the organization of life according the principles of Fordism. A 67 days joyride on what is there to do, after life has been devoured and drained, like in a B-movie vampire orgy. A system that is now at work and full speed on this side of the Atlantic, and rapidly devouring any kind of social structures as 'we' got to know then for the last decades.
old men & old women remember 'what things used to be like' , young people better try their best to forget and move on…
Still this other idea of common drives me through a complex situation, a sorts of a double edged knife I’m trying to grasp without getting cut. The 21st century reveals the tendency in the capitalistic economy to center even more economic production on common goods - which, in effect, poses a dilemma if not a contradiction for capitalistic accumulation because common goods are only productive when they are openly accessible and freely shared. This goes against their privatization as property.
They don’t operate a logic of scarcity, they are unlimited and become more productive if 'both you and I use it'. A second industrial revolution is taking place, based on the shared knowledge from the DIY (‘do-it-yourself’), transferred to a communal territory, a ‘do-it-ourselves’.
This 'common' knowledge can be the common that already exists - an affective resource (though the already existing common is usually very localized – like the knowledge gathered in Detroit, functions within that specific context, and does not necessarily functions in any other part of the world), and the new common yet to be produced (a shared dimension of immaterial production that 'we' can generate).
They are two disparate forms of knowledge, bound to very different conditions, which raise various questions.
How are these two different commons sharable across such different contexts?

How these local knowledges can be scalable? How access to them can be open beyond locality?

How to deal with the fundamentally local, or rather territorial, about the production of the common?

How can a common knowledge acquired during a residency in Detroit, be applied in a residency in Kanaleneiland?

 'off the grid' architecture studies                                                   
transplanting detroit tomatoes - the nursery series 2, amsterdam 2011

The city itself, not just the built environment, but the fabric of the place - is a crystallization of past productions of the common. From this main point, what are the instances when the common does have the potential for transfer, for extension beyond the local?

These forms of the common, social and cultural vocabularies, would undoubtedly undergo a transformation in the transfer process. These 'imported' patterns of behavior have to negotiate with the established habits and value system of the local populace. Through this negotiation, something new emerges, local to the city, the new locality.

Considering the common in relation to transfer and extension, it becomes a field of translations more than a growing global bank of shared or shareable knowledge.

As a field of translations, the common is produced by both the addition of new blocks of knowledge and aeffects and by constant and small adjustments and alterations. It can be seen as a dynamic process of minor tweakings and reformattings.

Such translations or transfers of the common are not - and perhaps cannot be - planned or determined in advance. They proceed through a kind of experimentation, in a way of cycles of struggles follow a zigzag movement as every repetition is subject to experimentation and innovation.

Previous translations of the common become part of a bank of experience. They are tools that can be reused.

Usable models to expedite future transfers of the common from one location to the other in the ways that the common is generated in "unexceptional" everyday practices - in a minor change in clothing style or language that codes a difference, in coming up with ways to deal with power or food shortages, in shared adjustments to moral criteria.

Tim Etchells ‘On Mistranslations’ for The Institute of Failure
The Locations of the Common: a conversation with Michael Hardt