Generale Staten (General States)

A performative and participatory project around the story of a quarantined town in the middle of an unidentifiable, virulent deadly pandemic.

8 December 2008–6 February 2009 / Casco HQ
Opening: Wednesday 10 December 2009, 18:00

Generale Staten (General States) revolves around the story of a quarantined town in the middle of an as yet unidentifiable, virulent and deadly pandemic. This story was played in the form of a physical game by a group of recruited participants. During the preparatory workshop and subsequent performance, the participants actively shaped the game as a collaborative and performative inquiry into the organization of power, imagined and enacted from different points of view, including authorities, individuals and unlabelled collectives. The result is recomposed and presented at Casco, accompanied by a “game manual” that is also distributed in the city, anticipating its replay. 

Referencing the “Staten-Generaal,” an assembly of representatives of the Dutch provinces that became the parliament of the new Dutch Republic in the late 16th century, Generale Staten (General States) proposes to rethink the power of gatherings, meetings and communality from the bottom, particularly under the threat of an invisible danger that could contaminate and affect anyone, any social organ. Instead of being fully scripted, the game is designed with a rudimentary storyline, a minimal set of rules and a stripped-down setting, which serve as tools for the players to exchange and negotiate their different “states” – psychological, ideological, intellectual, physical – as they are gradually transformed during the play. Operating within a loose structure that allows a new temporary reality to be imagined and practiced, the players become active performers who double as citizens, acting and making decisions for the forms of their co-existence, breaking the borders between reality and fiction, between playfulness and seriousness and between pain and joy.


Mieke Van de Voort (b. 1972, based in Amsterdam), working with various media and carrying on different forms of inquiries, has consistently explored mechanisms of power and the possibilities for individuals and collectives to make change within the existing social system. Generale Staten (General States) stands in this line of her ongoing exploration. Making use of different contexts and organizations, this project will also evolve in collaboration with other international art institutions such as The Showroom in London, with which Casco is establishing a continuous collaboration.

Participants in the workshop & game performance:
Willem Besselink, Alexis Blake, Lado Darakhwelidze, Linda van Denderen, Teresa Maria Diaz Nerio, Nina Dorigo, Jimini Hignett, Lizzy Kok, Brenda Knoll, Buba Cvoric, Veridiana Zurita, Raymond Huizinga, Noor Mertens, Magali Meijers, Josephine van Kranendonk, Binna Choi, Marina Tomic, Jolanda Jansen, Barbara Philipp, Annemarie Prins-Cilon, Adjo Tjon-A-Tsien, Vanessa Tuitel, Nadine van der Wal, Annie Wu, Lila Zotou
Camera: Udo Ackerman
Photograph: Maarten Kools
Editing: Danielle van Vree
Game coach: Lennart Quispel
Construction: Michael Klinkenberg
Contributors to the workshop: Rick van Amersfoort (Buro Janssen & Jansen), Otobong Nkanga, Carole Reeves, Nina Yuen

We would like to thank all the participants and contributors. Our thanks to Gabriëlle Schleijpen & the Dutch Art Institute, Josephine van Kranendonk and Annie Wu for their cooperation in the recruitment of participants.

The initial idea for the project Generale Staten (General States) was conceived in the context of CO-OPs, Inter-territorial Explorations in Art and Science, a project of the NWO-program, Transformations in Art and Culture, and it has been rehearsed with the support of Rijksakademie (Amsterdam) and Casco’s previous project re-projecting (Utrecht) by Ricardo Basbaum.

The programme of Casco is generally supported by the Mondriaan Foundation and Gemeente Utrecht.

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