Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister in the Vondelbunker. Day 6,7,8

Previously on WeAreNotSisi: It was – until  September 2014 – the most impressive artistic performance I have ever witnessed in my live: Julia Seyrs „The Capitalistic Innocence of Tastelessness“ (between fans and admirers simply known as „Die Rouladenperformance“) that  took place in 2007 in the Wichtelgasse in Vienna. It was very slow, it took very long, it was never boring, it was very colourful, it was very quiet and the sound that was heard was intriguing. There was a lot of smell, there was a lot of humour, there was a lot of tragedy, there was a fantastic story around it. There was not a movement too much and not a movement too little. It was perfect. (The end of the 1 hour performance you can see HERE – so you get a tiny tiny little glimpse of it).

I never saw work of Julia Seyr again, I did not follow what she was doing further, I even forgot her name. I  did hear some good stories, though, once in a while from Bibi Lukitsch who brought me to the Wichtelgasse back in 2007. That’s why I knew Julia Seyr was still working as an artist. So when I made the decision to organize an exhibition one thing was clear: I would try everything that Julia Seyr would be part of it. Things had changed a bit and so not only Julia Seyr, but Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister agreed to perform three consecutive days in a row in the first week of WeAreNotSisi. Very exciting indeed.

So 7 years after I’ve seen her in the Roulade (we never actually talked or met), Julia and me shook hands and had lunch together with Michael Bürgermeister on the day of the Kick Off, met to prepare the performances the day after and were ready to go! on Friday for the first run.

Sunset Performance NR 1 and 2 and a Sunday Performance.

The official opening times of WeAreNotSisi where “Every day except Thursday from 12-18″, but as for so many other days of the show we made overtime these days.  The sun on day 1 set around 19:45, so that was where we set up the first third of the performance.  Three monitors where standing in front of the  area where Julia Seyr was working. In the three monitors the Video „Vondel 1 – Homage to Joost van den Vondel“ by Michael Bürgermeister was screening simultanously. The Video was a view into a melancholic paradise with bits of Vondels’ huge and diverse Oeuvre read by the Michael Bürgermeister. During the performance he stood by the side, filming without moving. On the following days we heard more Vondel and saw more caleidoscopic glimpses of for instance market-beauties or wedding sadness.

We did not know how many guests to expect, so while Julia started the show, I brought all the design-mobiliaer standing around in the Bunker to make it comfortable for those who were there to see her assembling i.e. paper, spraypaint, egg, flour, confetti, glitter, wire, string, plastic flowers on the floor without saying a word.

Time to Zoom Out: The sun is setting. We are in the Vondelbunker. The Vondelbunker is an air raid shelter built during the Cold War in the Vondelbrug that is bypassing the Vondelpark. Many of such shelters were built all around Amsterdam in the 50s and 60s, but very soon the municipality realized that the case of emergency seemed to have been postponed for quite a while and so they were looking for new ways of using it. So at some point it became a youth center, where some of the now old or dead Amsterdammers had their first experiences with drugs and intense live (music)-performances. Naturally this couldn`t be tolerated for too long so after one or the other scandal the youth center/club/disco was closed down and the bunker left behind for some more exclusive usage. Until 3 years ago, when the Amsterdam-based collective Schijnheilig took over the space as a “broedplaats” from the municipality to create an open space for all sorts of highly political initiatives.

Time to Zoom In: After we finished to clean up the rests of the performance, I made an interview with Julia Seyr at the spot where the performance took place – surrounded by Micha Willes’ “Joseph Beuys’ Bericht an die Akademie” (2014), by Garaceks’ untitled assembly of PO-foam plofkippen (made in the Bunker while we were building up the show) by Hari Schütz’ triptychon “Roma Napoli” (1986) and the rest of Julia Seyrs performance hanging on a wire just in front of us. She told me, that, on the third day performing, she realized,there was something very personal she worked off in the performance and that on the last day she realized what the performance actually is about.

Starting point, Julia Seyr further explained, was a myth of a girl imprisoned in a palace,  who is forced to live in superabundance there. She is bored and thus is punished by the gods because of her boredom. The performance was about ingratitude and perishableness – a reason why she used the symbols “cross”, “egg”, “flower”. While working on this text, recollecting the three performances for days, I realized that Julia Seyr and Michael Bürgermeister created a deeply melancholic and utterly beautiful vaccuum out of over abundance in this little corner of a brutal space called Vondelbunker. Clearly that was exactly the plan, which is very, very & very impressive. And furthermore mercilessly radical in our age reigned by an all-encompassing horror vacui. Chapeau!

Time to Zoom Out: It’s dark in the Vondelpark, there is people sitting under the Vondelbrug and around it, playing music, talking, hanging out. Sometimes, the really brave ones even light a fire. As most of the other parks in Amsterdam the Vondelpark is also not closed and shut at night. So you can use it as a highway or hangout all through the night. The park was founded by some rich industrials and bankers 150 years ago. They erected a statue of Joost van den Vondel there, so people started to call the park Vondelpark and in 1880 the name was made official.  Mr. van den Vondel was a poet who pulished his work in the 17th century.

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