The intermedial architectural sound installation Ways of Space (2019) by architect Machiel Spaan and composer Rozalie Hirs was developed in close collaboration during their artist-in-residence at Van Doesburg House, Meudon, France, from September through December 2019. The work is inspired by the concept of the “open floorplan” (Dutch: open plattegrond) Theo Van Doesburg (1883-1931) developed for his architectural work, including his own residence at rue Infroît, Meudon, France. In addition, the colors of Theo Van Doesburg and his De Stijl contemporaries inspired Hirs towards new musical harmonies.
It is the third collaborative architectural sound art project by Spaan and Hirs, after Curvices (2013-present), and The Listening House (2017-present). The residency is supported by Mondriaanfonds, Theo Van Doesburg House, Stimuleringsfonds voor de Creatieve Industrie, and STEIM.
The above photograph by Allard van der Hoek was made on 27 Februari 2020 during the exhibition of Ways of Space (2019) in Van Doesburg Rinsemahuis, Museum Drachten, Friesland, The Netherlands.
Friso Wijnen: Open Saturdays – events in sound, space, and time. Ways of Space
From September until December 2019 Rozalie Hirs and Machiel Spaan are artists-in-residence at the Van Doesburg House. During their stay they will develop Ways of Space, a new architecture sound installation which they will present on Saturday 2 November, at 16.00 hours. Alongside their artistic research, Rozalie and Machiel initiate, curate and organize live events during five Open Saturdays (7 September, 21 September, 5 October, 2 November, and 7 December 2019). These events serve as an inspiration, workshop and stage for Ways of Space. Each event is concluded with a discussion of all participating artists with the public.
FW: Why a joint residence in Van Doesburg studio-house?
MS & RH: We worked together on a project twice before. Ways of Space (2019), executed in Van Doesburg house, forms a triptych with Curvices (2013) and The Listening House (2017). In each of these projects we investigate the trinity sound / tone / music as part of the spatial experience on different scales. Curvices examines the relationship between sound and movement within the landscape and urban space. At The Listening House the relationship between sound and the architectural sculpture in intimate space is the core. Ways of Space takes a closer look at the architectural space, in particular the space of Van Doesburg house.
FW: To what extent have your expectations come true?
MS & RH: The collaboration led to our third project: Ways of Space which would not have been created at all, or in this form, without our stay in the studio-house. We investigated the concept of the so-called open floor plan, as conceived by Van Doesburg, and the color plan of the house as inspiration for this new sound installation. During our residence, Machiel made a thorough inventory of all yellow, red, blue and gray color shades that co-shape both the interior and the exterior of the house. Machiel represented the results of this research by means of a graphic color plan, which Rozalie in turn translated into frequencies and harmonies for the new electronic music composition.
FW: Theo van Doesburg was a multidisciplinary artist. You design architecture, write poetry and make music. How do you feel affiliated with Van Doesburg?
MS & RH: We look around us and let ourselves be inspired by everything we see and hear. The architectural space, the visual arts, the colors and sounds of, in and around the house. So many ideas and opportunities in which we like to immerse ourselves.
FW: During your residency you organized a series of public activities. What did it bring you?
MS & RH: The Van Doesburg house is stubborn. It literally takes time to make it your own and to live there. The Open Saturdays public events have revealed the “true nature” of the studio-house. In our opinion, the house is at its best when you gather with several people, receiving guests, friends and an audience and to listen to a performance, concert or lecture, together with an exhibition in the studio or a dinner at the concrete table. The house primarily appears to be designed for performances, the exchange of ideas and conversations about the arts. Inspiration and friendship.
FW: What was your favourite place in the house?
MS & RH: During the four months we stayed here, the seasons changed from summer to fall and winter. Every month we experienced the house differently. In September we mainly lived downstairs in the garden and in the kitchen, in October in the studio and in the cold and wet November we stayed in the intermediate rooms with the two large doors closed. Our favourite spot though was the studio, where interaction takes place between the various disciplines and between residents, visitors and guests. The studio always takes on different capacities; this multitude of forms we found unique. At the same time the studio was a music theater, poetry stage, vestibule, music studio, dining room, salon, glass house …
FW: What do you take back to the Netherlands in terms of ideas and work?
MS & RH: The sound sculpture Ways of Space, inspired by the colors of Van Doesburg house, will be shown at other locations, such as the Museum Van Doesburg Rinsemahuis in Drachten (3 February – 30 March 2020), the Van Eesteren Museum in Amsterdam (1 -15 April 2020) and STEIM in Amsterdam (summer 2020). And in 2021 most likely in Aubette in Strasbourg, a design by Theo van Doesburg, Hans Arp en Sophie Taeuber-Arp. As such, a work inspired by the colors and ideas by Van Doesburg will travel along several Van Doesburgs.
The residency by Rozalie Hirs and Machiel Spaan was made possible by the Performing Arts Fund NL and the Creative Industries Fund NL.
Interview with Machiel Spaan and Rozalie Hirs by Friso Wijnen
Website Van Doesburghuis, september 2019
a special thank you to
Ways of Space (2019) was made possible through the financial support of Mondriaan Fonds, Stimuleringsfonds voor de Creatieve Industrie, STEIM, and M3H architecten. Ways of Space (2019) is exhibited at Van Doesburghuis (November-September 2019), Meudon, France; Van Doesburg-Rinsemahuis, Drachten, Friesland, The Netherlands (February-March 2020); Van Eesteren Museum, Amsterdam (April 2020); Studio Nine Dots, Amsterdam (August 2020), and STEIM, Amsterdam (November 2020).
26 November 2020, STEIM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
27 August 2020, Studio Nine Dots, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
2-19 April 2020, Van Eesteren Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ***POSTPONED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC***
7 Februari – 15 Maart 2020, Van Doesburg-Rinsemahuis, Museum Drachten, Drachten, The Netherlands
3 February 2020, Van Doesburg-Rinsemahuis, Museum Drachten, Drachten, The Netherlands (opening lecture)
2 November – 7 December 2019 Van Doesburghuis, Meudon, France.
The above photgraph (©2019 Jean-Michel Bale) shows Machiel Spaan and Rozalie Hirs during their presentation of Ways of Space (2019) at the Van Doesburghuis, Meudon, France. The presentation was part of their ‘Open Saturday IV’ on 2 November 2019.