‘I walk through the space that presents itself to me’
Disorientation. I walk through the space that presents itself to me. Or more precisely, I imagine myself wandering through the room, which, in actuality, I will never be able to enter. Bumping into walls, stumbling over rolls of paper. Tools. As if the site were under construction. Spreads hanging over walls cause the enclosures to shrink as if the walls were reaching to touch each other; architectural divisions are suspended or deferred. While spatial and visual confusion increases as I travel along, I come to the paradoxical conclusion that Mischung machen is meticulously designed after all.
This outcome is not so much a revelation as it is a starting point to think through the work of Maartje Fliervoet. Her installations are interventions in existing, often spatial structures. They force you to look more closely at the space in which you find yourself, gradually allowing it to be perceived otherwise. Fliervoet’s interferences generate an awareness of space, casting a glance upon it you could call oblique. In qsds and sgsh (2013) for instance, photographs of flights of stairs and the banisters surrounding them are translated into a relief mimicking the stairs, the rhythmical pattern of the forms suggesting the dynamics of the work’s point of departure. And in Rearranged Sun Flares II (2006) light flares you habitually take for granted are visualized. They are assembled and rearranged: what had been ‘mere’ flickers now materialize: an unexpected inversion of the invisible and the visible occurs, which discomfits and distracts. The background is emancipated in both of these projects, thus undermining your own mental and corporeal position. Or: stability does not exist.
Forms border on formlessness, tending to become vertiginous. Thus footnote 35 mentions: “In appendix II-A, Mr. Truant provides a sketch of this floor plan on the back of an envelope”. Flipping through Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (2000) the documents show drawings of stairwells, hallways and doors, along with calculations that intend to demonstrate that the house one Will Navidson acquired in Ash Tree Lane is one inch larger on the inside than the outside indeed. The mere fictitiousness of the latter undertaking is underlined by the design of the envelope dissimulating the difference between a step and the paper on which it is depicted, between the shifted flap of the cover and an open door, between fold and line. The physical implausibility of a house larger on the inside than on the outside is authenticated by the references, the documentation (footnotes, appendices) becoming as if worthless again as they both prove to be fictitious and partake in the story. The distance between the document and the documented object, between the information and what it informs us about collapses. Danielewski’s House is construction built on leaves indeed, i.e. on text.
The spaces are convoluted and complex, consisting of several layers that tend to mingle and overlap, to the point of becoming illegible ‘as such’. A dossier delineates space in Mischung machen: the portfolio foregrounding it falls short of its function as a ‘mere’ file containing registrations and the subjective translations thereof. The folder rather opens up the process of the exhibition’s construction. It offers a backstage - like the photographs, those images, objects associated with acts of documentation and registration - deemed to remain invisible. While paradoxically displaying a room growing ever more amorphous in this way, the archival material also endows the space with a peculiar density. This space has corridors, caves and attics. It is a spatiotemporal realm having a history of its own. Details – a notebook’s ribbon – tell you as much. The images and portfolios are Fliervoet’s, traces of her previous projects. But does it matter whose they are? While the document en soi still tends to prompt questions about its provenance and factuality, the co-existence of several documentary forms (photographs next to portfolios) and their multiplication urge you to project your own connections between them, be they fictitious or real. Time, like space, is malleable. To be incessantly re-invented or otherwise regained. Directing and redirecting my gaze, simultaneously preventing it from concentrating on a single, fixed “point,” I am trapped in a house (of leaves) I will never visit, to which I have never been before.
1. At least five narrative threads can be distinguished in House of Leaves: 1) ‘The Navidson Record’ beginning with Navidson’s discovery that his house is one inch larger on the inside than on the outside. Massive academic discussion ensues, about which a film is made “which doesn’t even exist”. 2) Zampanò’s story, whose concoction ‘The Navidson Record’ is. 3) The story of Johnny Truant, the editor of Zampanò’s notes, which becomes entangled with ‘The Navidson Record’ and Zampanò’s work. 4) The story of House of Leaves as a text, consisting in documentation of the anonymous editors (Polaroids, drawings, poems, letters) commenting on the reliability of the narrator Truant. 5) Truant’s mother’s story, gradually gaining power over Truant’s discourse. Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon Books, 2000. This is how Rune Grauland schematizes the story: “The Navidson Record (primary text) > Zampanò (footnotes, first set) > Truant (footnotes, second set) > The Editors (footnotes, third set) > The Mother (appendix II E)” Rune Graulund (2006) “Text and Paratext in Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves” Word