The publication accompanying the Belgian Pavilion at the next Venice Biennale, Personne et les autres borrow its title from a lost play by André Frankin, a Belgian art critic affiliated with the Lettrist and Situationist Internationals.
Dowsing Schools Preliminary Findings and Corresponding Survey Kit
De Appel, NL/ Artspace, NZ
Dowsing (or water devining) is the action of using sticks to find amongst other things, water, oil and hidden structures below the surface of the ground. For “Dowsing Schools”, two dowsers were invited from England, to make surveys of schools in Amsterdam. They were asked to search for archeology – the findings of which can be heard here.
Working in playgrounds, classrooms and gymnasiums of primary and highschools, the dowsers discover ancient ruins, battlegrounds, agricultural storage rooms and more.
The project has been elaborated into a series of three radio program, listen to part 1 here!
The accompanying kit seen here, is developed for the mapping, then excavation of the schools scanned by the dowsers. It features a so-called ‘plane table’- which is a map-making system, and a set of tools for the removal of paving and other hard surfaces.
The Dowsers: John Baker and David Lockwood. Both are registered dowsers with the British Society of Dowsers, which was established in 1933.
The project has been elaborated into a series of three radio program, listen to part 2 here!
“The two alternating audio tape recordings are a crucial component here, with commentaries from English dowsers, David Lockwood and John Baker, chatting while they scan various school grounds in Amsterdam. Their separately recorded voices and different accents are essential ingredients.
The two men are quite different in personality. Lockwood speaks of psychic energies, of sites of mental and physical torment where once were prisons or mental hospitals, and where now there linger spirits of the dead who can’t cross over to the other ‘realm’. They are left unhappily wandering on a ‘lower astral plane’. Baker is less speculative and melodramatic; more down to earth (to coin a phrase) in his account of how he operates when looking for buried walls.”
“Beckett’s arrangement of seven books in a plinth suggests that he thinks knowledge of the general Auckland public of dowsing is very limited, that his role is educative – but this is hard to accept. On the online catalogue of the Auckland public library there are over twenty-five books listed specifically on this subject, so dowsing is not really that esoteric. In a sense, with the two large vitrines (including the wands with prices), his exhibition is an ersatz display because it blindly avoids critically examining the point of the activity. Instead it fills museum containers with redundant procedural documentation for its own sake.”
The project has been elaborated into a series of three radio program, listen to part 3 here!
‘Dowsing School’ in Artspace Aotearoa, New Zealand 2014.