A HORSE A HORSE
MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE !
From afar, Mister Van der Smith could see the tower of La Brasserie Atlas with its seventeen meters lightning rod, an audacious installation by a mad scientist and excellent organist on his spare time named Antoine Jacqz. The Atlas Brewery had not been running since 1926, although you could still find some beers on the market marked with the famous image of the titan Atlas holding planet earth on his shoulders. With its art deco façade, the belgian building was a classified historic monument. Mister Van der Smith was attracted by its grandeur, but he never truly dared visiting it because La Brasserie Atlas had legally been occupied for almost three years now by a dozen artists including this much-touted Antoine Jacqz.
A week before, in the metro, Mister Van der Smith had read an article in Ubu-Pan's newspaper about a real estate development project planned for the coming years on the site of La Brasserie Atlas : nearby the old tower, a twin tower made of glass would stand offering one hundred flats and a massive parking lot in the courtyard for its inhabitant. Nonetheless, another architect collective AquaSploachSploach was proposing to fill up the Brasserie with mulitcolor toboggan.
As Mister Van der Smith was walking in the direction of the Brasserie Atlas, he remembered the cartoon illustrating the article. The drawing portrayed ten french artists occupying the building kicked out by architects. A caption read « DEHORS ! SPLOACHSPLOACH REPREND SES DROITS ».
Mister Van der Smith had always thought SploachSploach was simply the name of a Performing Arts project, but it seemed there was more to it. Was it the name of a big investor ? This was quite mysterious. The cartoonist depicted french artists standing under the rain with heavy pieces of art : Julien Fumont holding his tree sculpture made of lead, Rose Tirfort walling up into her cinderblock up to her neck, Conan Le Meilleur dying under his massive screen, Antoine Jacqz spearing by its lighting rod and so on. This was to happen in a near future that they were now waiting for.
Mister Van der Smith knew that it was probably the last time he would see the genuine construction. The idea of visiting the space before its big transformation alighted a strong desire in him, a thought which helped him surpass his shyness towards the artists. He had not flirted with any woman for a decade. The last time was at the local hairdresser, « Chez Malou » in 2008. Malou had massaged while shampooing his rare hair. At the time, he had already sorted balding. He had remembered time and time again her soft hands on his skull, thus this memory did not have any effect on his dead boner anymore. Anyway, he preferred to take his hair treatment in spite of his nonexistent libido. Afterall, he felt so « safe » in his life full of pills and spray. This day, he did not know why, he would be misled by adrenaline and sexual excitement. This feeling took on his entire body, he would go and visit this building, after all, La Brasserie Atlas was « his » building ! The Ubu Pan was right ! He was also born in Belgium !
His heart was beating quickly under his white shirt as he approached the gate : when he arrived in front of the site, he thought « what a kingdom ». He put all his self-confidence and strengh into his arms to climb the heavy gate. Hooked on the wire fencing, a piece of ripped blue satin danced in the soft wind. Mister Van Der Smith felt so small in the one hundred hectares courtyard and was so ridiculously human compared to the massive architecture around him.
He discretly joined a group of people listening to a guy talking really low. Oskar Petsec seemed to be delivering a secret and was peeking around as if spied on by some demonic forces. He was also making too many gestures with his hands as he was introducing The Good the bad and the great in seven days, a performance by the anti-company for a big family, also known as SploachSploach, the performance collective mentioned before.
Oskar Petsec was curving his spine like a frightened animal. A girl form the audience was nervously laughing, her blue dress was torn as apparently, she had not come through the proper entrance either. These details made Mister Van der Smith feel a bit unconfortable and made him regret his presence there but as the group started to walk slowly towards the door of a building, he felt it was too late to leave. He followed, as it was easier to melt into a group like an undiferenciable zebra. He was right next to me.
No one entered into the building and Oskar Petsec was making us walking stealthily in circles on the yard. As the walk was getting slower, Oskar Petsec was talking about SploachSploach and whenever he pronounced its name, he whispered. He was explaining how during its absence orphan performers entered its kingdom and organized this 3000 degrees event behind its back, a Performance festival, having fun on SploachSploach's trone. Oskar Petsec was also talking about the consumption and digestion of performances but it was hard to catch what he was saying as he was curving his spine so low that he was almost about to kiss the floor.
Meanwhile, SploachSploach was in Cuba, sipping a Mojito in a red desert, but still was lending an ear to what was happening in his kingdom. It could feel that something was going on there with the same third sense a parent would have for their children. It connected his phone to La Brasserie Atlas and understood that performers were playing buffon¦ He thought « fucking crooks ». He heard their shouts, could imagine them making faces all these traitors who would normally lick his toes for the blessing of performing at La Brasserie Atlas were taking the piss out of him.
It was 9oclock and still very hot outside. Waiting for the show to start, Mister Van der Smith bought a gluten free beer from artist Luce Mortier, another resident of La Brasserie atlas, and laid down on the floor like most of the crowd. His habit was to gently sit on a chair but he did not want to differentiate himself too much.
Mister van der Smith was really close to me, maybe by one meter. I thought he had not noticed that we had also been next to each other during the walk led by Oskar Petsec. A plane passed thru in the sky and made a magical noise delighting to the people who had come to amaze themselves with « self-distant performance». We were served indeed, yeah, I was convinced everyone was thinking we were living one of these rare moments and most of all, the Orphan performers of SploachSploach who were inside the tower preparing themselves at the last minute, measuring the poetic impact that this apocalyptic sound would have on their future entry.
Most of the audience belonged to the millennial generation fed with supermarket food in their childhood. Now they were taking their parents to court during family lunch. They were fighting GMO, the fast food industry and would only consume organic food.
Mister van der Smith, glimpsed from the fifty bikes parked on the corner to the hairs under my armpit and thought : « I could use these for a transplant operation in Turkey »
I was part of this « ecologist» generational wave that doubted having any children in the future, as the future had never been so uncertain. We were basically back in the seventies, in the time before supermarkets, looking for new ways of thinking and living together. Bruxelles was full of artists communities with various names : « Le lac », « Rumsteak », « La Brique », « No supplies ». Mr Van der Smith was surely not part of any of them. He totally ignored where his feet had landed.
Our parents could not understand us, we no longer ate the turkey bought from the frozen foods section on Christmas Day. Family meals had become impossible ever since my sister and I had started asking about the provenance of products. My parents called us self-righteous snobs who pretentiously thought themselves above the rest, not eating what was in our plate. They were too convinced that the meat under the plastic was a of superior quality as was certified by the « Label Rouge » logo.
We wanted the truth, and in Performative Arts, curators were looking for great identities. Performance is geo-political. Sorry, I drifted, but isn't that the same for the turkey you are about to eat ? right ? you want to know where it comes from? It seemed that the big orphan SploachSploach family was making fast-food performances of sorts.
The show was about to start. There was nonetheless a beautiful view on the edge of the tower of La Brasserie Atlas. A car parked in the middle of the yard and was about to crush into John Lennon and Yoko Ono's heaven, the Citroen Xsara Picasso was head lighting the whole stage, but would soon fall asleep of boredom and transform the performer into a wraith. The scenography was made from waste, the throne was nothing more than a car seat laid on a perforated chair, wood was burning... Beside the throne, a burnt yellow beach umbrella was opened and above it a chandelier made of plastic bottles was turning. Oh yeah ! and a weird creature that I had first identified as a pig because of its roasted color, but the more I was staring at it, the more its shape became that of a bear...
The darkness locked the audience up into its own loneliness. « The world was created in seven days, that's why it is so wobbly » was reminded one of the performers. I thought it was human kind occupations that made the world quite « wobbly ». My eyes were adapting themselves to the natural dimming of the daylight, I was looking at the sky while the performers were consuming their last glow and leprechauns were playing flute behind us. Oskar Petsec was on stage putting the performer's identites on sale while sucking them into a vacuum cleaner named Aspiratus.
Spectators did not really dare taking part in the auction, too cowardly to take responsability in breaking the fourth wall and not courageous enough to become actors. It was easier thinking of performance art as boring while making a scene out of it. The SploachSploach Orphan performers seemed to have actually premeditated this fiasco, just for the sake of mythifying it through writing in the following days.
Most of the audience was totally out, passive, exhausted with this contemplation of The good the bad and the great in seven days that lasted almost six hours, seemingly, eternity. People were sleeping on the floor. Personaly, I felt « bad », the only thing I had in front of me was myself meditating. Others felt « great » or « good » after this meditation.
SploachSploach was hearing the performance all the way from Cuba even though the performers were really quiet, crossing the stage, climbing obstacles in silence. Having thoroughly sucked all of the performer's souls, Oskar Petsec started :
- Who wants to buy the Aspiratus vacuum cleaner ? A broken camel, a clever donkey ! It is what you want ! Now that it's got a package of identities into its belly, your dream will become true ! The auction starts at 100 euros.
The audience mainly composed of performers or visual artists squatting buildings and stealing fancy organic food in supermarkets to survive was puffing. Mister Van der Smith stood up and said :
- 101 euros
- Ok Mister what's your name ?
- My name is Mister Van der Smith he said full of sweat.
At this instant, SploachSploach called Oskar Petsec on his phone, put a tissue in his mouth and turned on his speaker phone. Oskar Petsec said : « Ok Mister Van der Smith. Wait¦ I am also on the phone with a certain Mister or Madame ChloapChloap. »
- It just increased at 1000 euros.
- 1001 euros replied Mister Van der Smith straight away.
- Allo ?
Oskar Petsec waited one minute before saying :
- ChloapChloap gave up the auction. Aspiratus belongs to you Mister Van der Smith. Come on the throne Mister van Der Smith. We are going to proceed to the transaction via Paypal.
The audience was stunned, I asked Swann, one of my friends if this was « part of the performance ? ». Lost, she did not reply. Oskar Petsec and Mister Van der Smith exchanged codes, the transaction was made.
In Cuba, SploachSploach was laughing and rolling in the sand while ordering champagne. Oskar Petsec expected he would win a bonus. He greeted the audience and went home. Mister van Der Smith had no more money on his bank account, nor any hope of bringing a woman on a romantic adventure to a Fast-Food Truck and eat chicken legs. No one was clapping, finding this ending too sad.
A big egg, that Aspiratus had probably just laid was laying on Mister Van der Smith's knees. The Leprechaun took it and opened it with a circular saw, then cooked it at Mister Smith's feet. For those who woke up from their boredom, it was a marveleous breakfast, tasting this massive equivalent of twenty chicken eggs. I was eating some, it was super good and apparently came from an organic farm. Mister Van der Smith was still on the throne, holding Aspiratus against his chest, feeling the influence of the performer's souls gently crawling into his mind. He shouted :
« A horse ! A horse ! My kingdom for a horse !».