Jan van Raay



Bedaux b.v., Nieuwe Leliestraat 96hs, 28 April

by Jan van Raay

ARTZIEN Vol. 1 No. 7, May 1979
A Monthly Review of Art in Amsterdam

The room at Bedaux was fairly dark, lit only by blue light. Viewers sat grouped to one end of the lower floor. Michael began by switching on two tape recorders placed on the balcony. One tape, Michael speaking, reading...words..."start again...," interrupted by a fragment of nostalgic music by Schumann; and the second, predominant tape, Michael humming...it is Schumann too? He stops the first tape of words and music, the humming continues, and he turns the blue lights off and reddish-orange ones on. He comes downstairs, switching on tapes there, reading, biographical..."I was born on the eve of World War II..." On and off, the tapes fuse over each other..."slipping between pages..." "For me she was perfection...she was as lovely as day itself..." Up and down the stairs, Michael starts and stops the tapes on four cassette recorders. "I was born at dawn under the astrological sign of Aries..." "...success should be great..."

A barrage of words, feelings, thoughts, information. You strain to hear, to select from the bombardment and chaos. But people in the audience are talking, too, talking over, under and around Michael's words as he choreographs. One tape whispers...secrets? Shadows of words, dark and musty.

Michael goes to a new place on the balcony, spotlit between shrouds of white curtain. Holding a large book, slowly turning the pages as sand and crisp dead leaves falls from them gently to the floor one level below. The secret whispering continues; mysteries of words and books and secret worlds imprisoned behind the spine and cover. "...gently eyes like a gazelle...she loved rats."

The pages turned, the ashes fallen, the book is closed and it is over. The piece had a freshness about it; fresh around the dust of words, of material gathered spontaneously, not after long thought, but after a living and dreaming, of loving and collecting. It was as a purge of pages and paragraphs dog-eared long ago in books to be looked back on. A collage of precious fragments turned into an absurdity, or something more difficult to reach because it is so precious?

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