For the project Surveillance1, Lotte Geeven & Yeb Wiersma collaborated to claim2 the Stationsbuurt in The Hague – as their work and research area. In the course of a month, this area of about one square kilometre became a dynamic space, in which the mechanism of observing is scrutinized in a rough manner with various interventions and using a script that is composed of seven life & site-specific acts. The space of action was marked physically by a square of a gold-leaf line, at once marking the site of research whilst also invigorating a sense of unstable preciousness.
In Surveillance, Geeven & Wiersma investigated the sovereignty of the public space. In doing so, the artists focused attention on the habits and characteristics of the city. The script – the manual of this research – consisted of directed acts that challenge the controlled establishment and made an appeal to the concept of autonomy with a brutal approach to spontaneity.
Act I: Isaac’s Principles3
Act II: Dark Hour4
Act III: Highrise
IV: Each spin is a steady rotation towards you5
Act V: The Porcelain Room6
Act VI: Pack
Act VII: The Restless Eye7
- ‘Doublethink’ by George Orwell (1984) -meaning the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them – was a central concept in Surveillance. It represents a mental and physical domain in continuous motion; staggering stroboscopically between authority and autonomy, between control and wildness. The borderline between acts and reality was desultory for the passers-by.
- Locals showing up on the rooftop of the parking garage where Geeven and Wiersma invited a motor cyclist (stuntman) to demonstrate his wheeling movements (Act IV: Each spin is a rotation towards you)
- A surveillance camera was installed on the ceiling of the white cube recording the the basketball players, who in a playful way pushed the art audience aside, taking over the space by surprise. The live stream of this recording was screened in the adjacent gallery space.
- For the act Dark Hour a poster and flyer campaign was spread amongst the research area to convince the residents living, working here to darken their home, shopfront for one hour: dark hour.
- The artists approached a professional motor stunt man to show up – unannounced – at dusk on the rooftop of a parking lot demonstrating his wheeling choreography and double burn outs. Surprisingly, in spite of the operating surveillance camera’s, this roaring act was undetected.
- For Act V: ‘The Porcelain Room’ Geeven and Wiersma left a basketball at the entrance of the International Court of Justice (Location dealing with International border conflicts) in The Hague.
- On the highest skycraper in the research area a video of a street basketball player was projected. His eyes gazing at the hypnotizing, spinning ball.