“Gap in Space / Gat in de Ruimte”       

installation / performance, dimensions variable, 2020/2121               

cardboard, theatre-light, robotics, curtains, chairs, live-performers

length of performance: 60 minutes              In collaboration with Bram van Helden





“Gap in Space” is an indy-project.
Bram and I decided to collaborate on an experimental stage-show with visual elements for a theatre-festival in the Netherlands in 2020. We'd wonder if we could make a minimal live-experience that would somehow sooth the senses. But when the festival was cancelled twice due to corona in '21 we were left in an empty factory-hall with two options: wrapping-up again or trying to push through, although we knew that we'd hardly reach any audience due to curfews and lockdowns.

We started wondering if an art-piece could exist without an audience, without it being seen. Could it still have an impact if we made the piece merely because we just wanted it to “be”? While production support of the festival diminished and temperatures in the hall soared down to -20 Celsius, a snowstorm wrapped our world in silence. Our ideas of quietness, emptiness and minimalism started to shift because the type of void we experienced now felt more like a Horror Vacuum.

Bram and I tried to make a connection to our immediate neighbours; people that lived in the street and neighbourhood where our temporary workplace was situated. We left notes at people's homes telling them we'd wish we could meet them and if they'd ever like to come over for a coffee they'd be welcome.
One of the first responses was that of people in the streets who collected snow-sleds for us so that we could “parade” objects of our canceled show by pulling it through the streets. Slowly people started showing up at our doorsteps to greet us or wave through the windows.

When technicians of befriended theatre-companies heard that we were continuing our work whilst not exactly knowing who for, they offered us their help. Technicians of a large theatre-company helped us with light-equipment and installed electricity. Other theatre-producers and technicians started showing up, offering their help. In the end we made them the stars of our stage-performance by asking if they would like to perform for us and a few close friends and relatives, something that within the limitations of that moment was possible as long as we filmed the performance for later use. So we used a camera, knowing it would probably be a way to reach an audience later in time. While performing we had you, the cinema-audience, in mind. And that is why we think this film is a bit more than just a registration of a live-performance.

On the night that the clock was moved one hour due to a change from winter- to summertime, when daylight would last for an extra hour, we did our one-and-only performance. It was also the last night that a curfew was in operation. It was more or less the start of spring and the end of winter. It felt like a spring-ritual to us, hoping we were able to say goodbye to an unsettling period.

Minimalism became extreme this way; the entire content of a show was cut away. All the rituals of a performance were kept in place; the technicians opening curtains and switching lights on and off. A producer signalling to the crew, roadies removing stage-props. The audience coming in and taking place. The applauding of the audience and the creators bowing at “stage” to receive their appreciation. The camera switched on and off for exactly one hour but still being operated by a real human being that is part of the process.

We think this art-piece is reminiscent of works that deal with the idea of the void. For instance we were very inspired by John Cage's 4'33'', a music-piece that is made out of silences and thus emphasises all sounds and human actions surrounding a performance of it.

We think “Gap in Space” therefore is merely a document of a specific moment in time when large parts of society were in limbo. When culture was at a low we were struck by the motivation of all people around us who still wanted to create an experience for each other, out of love for expression, with hardly any means left. For me it shows the heart of theatre and art, the love of people involved and the mechanisms at work at such a moment. The dedication of all the people involved when merely at the centre there seemed no cultural activity present, was absolutely heartwarming. And I hope it will be visible for the attentive viewer too.

Jeroen Offerman Eindhoven 27/09/2021