Thomas Verstraeten's first solo exhibition at Fred&Ferry is set up as a dialogue, or perhaps better, as a confrontation between two projects: 'Pierre Menards paradox' and 'Familiestraat’.
In September 2014, Thomas Verstraeten made Pierre Menard's paradox. For this, he built a copy of the Moroccan coffee house Tanger, situated diagonally opposite, in the exhibition space. The installation described the interior of the coffee house in reverse, as a place of here and elsewhere, familiar and strange, as a paradox.
For Familiestraat, he built an exact replica of his street in wood and cardboard in a large factory hall. Then, together with 250 local residents, he re-enacted an annual review of true events that happened in the Familiestraat in the bizarre year 2020.
In both projects, seemingly futile pieces of history are re-enacted with great care and precision by their original 'inhabitants'. Both projects take ordinary, everyday events as their starting point. They are pieces of history that are saved from being forgotten. According to the artist, every event, no matter how small or trivial, contributes substantially to those few events that do get a place in our collective memory.
"History is a substance that is manufactured of its own accord; if you turn away from the staccato of the headlines and listen very carefully, you will hear the infinitely slow grinding of the wheels, between which nothing is ever lost," Nooteboom writes in his Berlin Notes.
With the kind support of Toneelhuis
26.05 - 02.07.2022
The Right Time
‘The Right Time’ began with the three-year long-distance relationship with my wife, Xiaotong. We are same-sex couples from China. When I was studying in Belgium, she was still living in China, there was always a 7 hour time difference between us and we spent much time with each other but only through our phones, especially when Covid-19 started in 2020 and we didn’t see each other at all for two years.
After two years of preparation, she moved to the Netherlands, where we finally live in the same time zone, and we got married last week in the Netherlands. This is the first country to allow same-sex couples to get married. But we couldn’t tell our families that we were getting married, we wouldn’t get any support from them. We can leave our home country but our families are still under pressure from people around them and from society.
But I found similarities between the different generations in our family, when my parents got married, my grandfather disapproved and my grandparents didn’t attend my parents’ wedding.
I used our parents’ archives. To let them involve and to present their absence.
The time differences between countries due to physical distance, time differences between different generations due to different educational backgrounds and experiences
We always say the right time will come, but when do we not have to hide any secrets from the people we love?