Notes from Duende

Jorge Macchi, De Kade Publicatie 2, Rotterdam, Netherlands | 1996

I think it was a night at the end of April. I had already been living in Rotterdam for one month, and I didn't understand yet why this city was so different from Amsterdam , the cities being only one hour apart by train. That night I went to a party in a rather derelict place in the West of the city. The music was very loud but in spite of this, people tried to talk. Three or four danced and the rest broke their throats and pricked up their ears trying to communicate. It was strange but even in these conditions I could have a nice talk with an artist from Duende about a kitchen (as art) and about motivations for making art. For a while I thought the little beer bottles everybody held absentmindedly in their hands worked as brown glass microphones.

That night I returned to Duende with my bicycle on automatic pilot. I passed by the Euromast and remembered an advertisement in which the vantage point was replaced by a hamburger. I realized I had entered the city's imagination network: for me the Euromast would never be a neutral monument anymore.

When I first arrived at Tamboerstraat I knew I would stay there only for two months. By night the building had an air of mystery that I related to the fantasy of walking surreptitiously in the dark through the corridors of my secondary school in Buenos Aires, during those not so agreeable seventies (a fantasy which had its origin in a tale by Julio Cortàzar).

In the space where I was going to live and work I found objects that were residues of former residents: a mirror with a broken corner, two mattresses, a screen for slide projection, several tables and chairs, a lamp with pretensions of ‘Space Odyssey', and a long stick with a hook on the end for which I have not found a use. I spent a week thinking how to display the objects. The perfect rectangle of the studio didn't give many clues. It was more a place where things slid and everything seemed to be floating, unstable, variable, provisioned, like the light on the floor and the walls.

I thought of Buenos Aires and of that collective sensation that transforms the simple action of reading a newspaper in the morning into an adventure: at any moment everything can change. Or of that feeling of transitoriness, inherited from the Italian and Spanish people who decided to live in Buenos Aires , that makes you feel forever that your place is in another place.

This feeling is not too far from the travellers adventure: nothing is ever permanent for him. His furniture will never feel at ease in their precarious corners. In these situations - that paradoxically turn permanent - the only thing the traveller can do is to react in a certain way in front of each new situation with the things he has close at hand. And maybe take some photographs of the people or the landscapes he will never see again.

One afternoon I talked about these things with my friend Arnold on the roof of his house at the Keileweg, after he had showed me how his complete work fitted into a wardrobe. Another afternoon, around one, there was an accident in my studio: two cars, that came at top speed along the avenues of shadow produced by the sun passing through the window, crashed on an intersection. Bad luck, I thought first. Extreme bad luck I thought afterwards, because the sun had built the shadow in that place and on the instant, especially for the unfortunate drivers. Similar accidents happened to the light of the lamp, the shadow of the table, and the perturbed reflection of the mirror. Really a catastrophe.

And this catastrophe was my way of reacting towards this almost empty rectangle, in this old school saturated with artists, and in this city that even now I don't understand. I haven't found yet another way of doing art here.

This is perhaps also what I shouted in the ear of my friend at that noisy party in the West of Rotterdam.

(This text was writen by Jorge Macchi during his residency at Duende Artists-Iniciative, Rotterdam in 1996)