Nothing is Closed – Lying Freely Part I

18 June–21 June 2009 / Utrecht
Performance / Guided tour through the Rietveld Schröder House 
Daily from 14:45–16:00 on 18, 19, 20, 21 June 2009 
Departure point: Centraal Museum (Nicolaaskerhof 10, Utrecht).  
Reservation is necessary. Limited capacity. Free entrance. 
For your reservation, please contact Jakob van Stolk by email or call.

Nothing Is Closed—Lying Freely Part I is a performance by artist Ruth Buchanan in the form of a guided tour through the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht. The performance marks the beginning of Lying Freely, an itinerant project by Buchanan, which will evolve over time in different locations. Whereas this process follows the logic of fugue as a musical form, fugue as a term for a complex mental disorder and indicates the focus of artistic inquiry. Fugue is characterized by unplanned, inexplicable journeys, often occurring in a state of intense mental pressure where one literally flees from their ordinary context to another space, only to return with amnesia of the escaping experience. Reading fugue as a form of and a relationship with freedom, Buchanan takes this phenomenon as a starting point for exploring how the production of meanings and of artistic “voices” is negotiated between private need and public expectation (or pressure), between contingent individual desires and historical legacies. In other words, Lying Freely seeks for a possibility to develop a space of such negotiation where the notion of freedom in one’s public and private presence is contested vis-a-vis an “economy of voice.” Buchanan investigates this economy by constructing meetings between herself, the practices of three well-known female literary figures —Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Janet Frame—and different sites such as a work, an archive, an event or a venue.  

In Nothing Is Closed, Janet Frame’s (NZ, 1924-2004) novel-length autobiographical essay Towards Another Summer (written in 1963, published in 2007) becomes the departure point. The novel was produced to alternate Frame’s experience of writer’s block as she struggled with facing the production of another book, and narrates what Frame describes as “embarrassingly personal content.” In the novel the difficulty of both the position of the artist and artistic production is addressed in a transformative way through the writing of a protagonist who eventually identifies herself with a migratory bird. The construction of such an imaginary scenario signals a form of speaking and existing freely in a self-delineated space. Buchanan connects this encounter with Frame’s artistic struggle to the Rietveld Schröder House, another significant artistic legacy, and approaches the house as a location of mutual demands and adoptions – a polyphony of closedness and openness as articulated in the spatial design and in the complex relationship between the house owner and client Truus Schröder-Schräder and architect Gerrit Rietveld. As a way of maneuvering through this complex space of encounters, Buchanan produces a video and text employing material related to the Hocken Library and Archive in Dunedin, NZ which holds the Janet Frame Collection, the Rietveld Archief at Centraal Museum and pure speculation to be presented as an alternative narrative inserted into the standard form of the guided tour.  

The next stop of the project’s journey will be at Frascati Theater in Amsterdam in the context of If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution (Circular Facts—Lying Freely Part II on 21th October 2009). In November the project moves to The Showroom in London (Several Attentions—Lying Freely Part III) and returns to Casco with a publication and an architectural setting in February 2010. 

Ruth Buchanan (NZ 1980, Te Ati Awa/Taranaki):  

In her work Ruth Buchanan addresses how artistic legacy characterizes artistic agency in the present and does so by working in various forms and tones – video, text, sculpture, sound, 35mm slide and readings, bringing these various elements together in choreographed spatial and temporal arrangements and situations. She completed her MA (Fine Art) at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam in 2007 and is currently a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. Buchanan has shown her work in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and actively initiates and contributes to print based projects.


Lying Freely is co-organized by Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution and The Showroom, and the Jan van Eyck Academie. It was made possible with support from the Jan van Eyck Academie and Creative New Zealand. Nothing is Closed is organized by Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory in collaboration with Centraal Museum.

This activity is part of:

A multi-location, itinerant project by Ruth Buchanan that probes questions around the tension between private and public spheres

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