Overview of nine installations of Belgian artists during STRP Festival

18Nov10

Last year, STRP Festival presented a retrospective of the pioneers of live cinema, Granular Synthesis. This year, STRP Festival proudly presents from November 18-28, a major retrospective of the upcoming Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf. Central to the installations of Lawrence Malstaf (1972, Brugge) is the experience of ‘being in the middle’; the audience is able to experience concrete or abstract situations themselves. For example, visitors have the rare opportunity to experience the Shrink vacuum effect first-hand in a separate room.

Together with the artist, STRP chose nine installations that provide a fantastic cross-section of his work, including many recent pieces—half of which have never been shown in the Netherlands. In addition, STRP is also thrilled to present an entirely new work: Territorium. Live performances will be staged every day throughout the entire festival.

Having started out as a theatre set designer, artist Lawrence Malstaf’s work lies somewhere between the visual and the theatrical. His installations are very much like a performance, with the viewer taking centre stage. Anything can happen: walls move, gravity is defied, the performer is vacuum packed, a simulated storm at sea rages. His work is extremely intimate, frequently for only person, yet at the same time offers onlookers amazing images and miniature performances, with a starring role reserved for the individual viewer’s own imagination.
In 2009 Malstaf won the Prix Ars Electronica and has been causing a stir worldwide ever since. The jury at the Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo awarded him the Excellence Prize in 2010 for his body of work.

Shrink
Two large, transparent plastic sheets and a device that gradually sucks the air out from between them leave the body (in this case the artist himself) vacuum-packed and vertically suspended. The transparent tube inserted between the two surfaces allows the person inside the installation to regulate the flow of air. As a result of the increasing pressure between the plastic sheets, the surface of the packed body gradually freezes into multiple micro-folds. For the duration of the performance the person inside moves slowly and changes positions, which vary from an almost embryonic position to one resembling a crucified body.

Nemo Observatory
Styrofoam beads are blown around in a big transparent PVC cylinder by five strong fans. Visitors can take place on the armchair in the middle of the whirlpool or observe from the outside one at a time. On the chair, in the eye of the storm it is calm and safe. Spectacular at first sight, this installation turns out to mesmerise like a kind of meditation machine. One can follow the seemingly cyclic patterns, focus on the different layers of 3D pixels or listen to its waterfall sound. One could call it a training device, challenging the visitor to stay centred and find peace in a fast changing environment. After a while the space seems to expand and one’s sense of time deludes.

Territorium
A space is divided into 4 rooms by 2 walls. A euclidean space moving like the XY-axis of a plotter. The 4 rooms are constantly changing in size. When one becomes larger another becomes smaller. However, the walls are nearly immaterial: the plane of the walls is only indicated by vertical strings hanging down. Together with light and shadow they may look like a sterile autocad drawing or a projection. Yet when a string touches a performer, a piano or a visitor it curves and hesitates like only physical objects can. Our environment is always changing, sometimes slowly, sometimes dramatically, Since birth we are trained to adapt to the changing conditions and references around us. Sometimes we do this consciously sometimes unconsciously. In vain we keep looking for stability and order, we try to control and predict, fix norms and plans with the logic of cause and effect.

Other works
Apart from these three installations, the retrospective contains the works Shaft, Transporter, Knot, Boreas, Nevel, Fans and Compass. For more information on these works (or on Lawrence Malstaf), visit http://www.strp.nl.

STRP Festival
STRP Festival is one of the largest art & technology (e-culture) festivals in Europe which melts music, art & technology together. The multidisciplinary program is an accessible mix of 360 degrees experience and adventure. More than 20.000 people visited the festival in 2009. This year, STRP is held from 18-28 November

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