A foundational myth of neoliberal economics is that (privileged) humans can consume and prosper indefinitely, a repetition where each new generation is promised more success, comfort and material wealth than the last. Even as this paradigm unravels, it is experienced as déjà-vu. We seem welded to it, repeating patterns of thought and behaviour that are increasingly absurd in the face of multiple global crises.

Yet repetition is also foundational and intrinsic to human consciousness – a vital tool for babies to acquire language, a reassuring shelter from the world, a comfortable rut to get stuck in, a pursuit of elusive perfection and an inherent part of creativity. The participating artists all play with tensions between various modes of repetition, and engage in repetitive tasks of renewal or becoming.

Performances by Liza Prins & Layla Durrani, Duncan Robertson and Kim Wawer

Installation works by Thom Driver, Cécile Tafanelli and Roman Tkachenko

Guest performances by Marie Ilse Bourlanges and Glenn Ryszko

Freed From Desire is enabled with the generous support of AFK.

Thom Driver

An unknown number has called me, sometimes twice a day, on and off for about the past three years. I never answer and no message is ever left. Searching this number online reveals conflicting reports from various sources. It is the gas company wanting to install a smart meter. Scammers pretending to be the gas company. Automated sales pitches in unknown languages. Rogue injury claim lawyers. Even a mysterious man who says ‘I’d like to speak to…’ then hangs up.

Thom Driver will present a surreal, episodic audio work that dives into the opaque structures lying behind the endless calls. His own early experience working as a cold-caller in the late 1990s serves as a point of contrast to trace the overheated, wildly unequal progressions of the early 21st century. Last century’s visions of leisure and abundance, courtesy of the machines, remain far out of reach for most; while the machines themselves may (already have) become our masters. Given the technological potential, how has the dream unraveled? Why is there such a persistence of ‘bullshit jobs’, the very labour we were supposed to be liberated from?

Unknown Number is set in a call centre without boundaries. It is an inexhaustible system, inhuman yet made by/of humans, repeating itself to infinity but always on the edge of collapse under its own absurdities.

Unknown Number

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Liza Prins & Layla Durrani

Together in Spirit

In her recent keynote we heard Silvia Federici talk rather seriously about herbal healing methods as a way to reconnect to the subtleties of our bodies, so that we can perform the (collaborative) preventative medical care that contemporary western medicine tends to neglect. In the light of a global pandemic as well as with ever increasing disease related to neoliberal production practices that toxify our planet, it is becoming more urgent to both preserve knowledges of herbal healing and re-activate them. Our performative work revolves around herbal healing and (re)turning to the knowledges that were violently taken away from womxn. In the context of Freed from Desire, we will perform a revisited/contemporary version of the nine herbs charm, an old English charm recorded in the tenth-century CE, that describes preparations of nine plants that still live/grow in our vicinities today. The poem, in the form that is known to us today, already received multiple revisions over the centuries -the first part is talking about Woden and a later verse speaks about Christ-, so we think it’s only apt to continue this process.

In addition to performing the poem we serve a healing cocktail in a performative food-ritual.

In this way we hope to reconnect and navigate female-coded lineages of labor while acknowledging that there is no way back to the original knowledges and everything we do is an inevitable re-interpretation colored by digital media and the trauma’s induced by the interrelated fields of neoliberal work-relations, colonialism, the witch-hunts and their subsequentially misogyny and sexism.

Together in Spirit

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Duncan Robertson

Joe Nobody rises from the dead features a fan’s bad impersonation of JR Ridinger as he learns and delivers a Keynote speech on his own successes. In various speeches in the past JR Ridinger has used a prop gravestone to ‘Joe Nobody’ to illustrate the need, as he describes, to live as if you’re going to die tomorrow, to spend and invest because you won’t get another chance. Over the course of the two weeks learning his script, the speaker and the speech develop credibility and the fan starts to believe and become JR.

JR Ridinger is the CEO and founder of Market America, a multi level marketing company which has been accused of being a pyramid scheme and racketeering. This performance continues a series of performances exploring the relationship between debt, morality and subjectivity.

Joe Nobody rises from the dead

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Cécile Tafanelli

Drone 1 – The Great Escape: This sound-piece is part of an ongoing research about hypnosis in relation with drone sound, and its effect / affect on the brain and human thought processes and patterns. Cécile Tafanelli will propose a sound-piece in a sheltered room for the Freed from Desire exhibition. This sound-piece has a disrupted drone-like characteristic, it is composed of field recordings. It investigate how thoughts can embed themselves in seemingly repetitive sonic familiar landscapes, the audience being the immersed subject themselves. Recorded partly during lockdown, in the aftermath of an unsettling event, partly in 2019 in India, the sound-piece aims at stripping the narratives of these known sounds away to highlight their “core”. As events unfold, reformulating the usual narrative / function of these sounds allows the mind to reformulate meaning, or to get rid of it altogether, finding new paths for traumatic imprints that are repeated endlessly in ones mind. The sonic medium allows for deeper penetration as it makes its way through the ear duct. Finding the balance between triggering and soothing, boredom and trance.

Drone 1 – The Great Escape

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Roman Tkachenko

Neighbours of Zero _ les Orphelins is a site-specific installation that playfully speculates on predestined futures of listed architectural monuments awaiting renewal.  

As the French Institute moves out of its walls, the (former) Maison Descartes now shelters artists and creatives on the basis of an indefinite anti-squat contract. Through integrated policies of temporary creative use, property care, and value boost, artists navigate across the city to aspire to new potentials and thrive in newly introduced contexts.

In a game of probability and chance, an algorithm bets on the future function of this property in the old centre of Amsterdam, originally built as an orphanage. Well fed with data – extensive examples of highly detailed accounts of listed buildings and plans of developers for their future purposes – the algorithm is enabled to predict one of the potential futures for this building in a game of luck. 

Inspired by the odds and probabilities system of Roulette, Neighbours of Zero _ les Orphelins plays with the language and vocabulary of developers, enabling new potential functions to blur and merge. Through highlighting alternative futures, the (former) Maison Descartes’ identity is being reframed towards ambiguous multi-use developments that manifest other creative or experimental potentials.

Neighbours of Zero _ les Orphelins

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Kim Wawer

For the exhibition Freed From Desire, Kim Wawer will continue an ongoing empirical research and methodology, digging holes as means to explore the limitation and relation of the human body to its (earthly) surroundings. Kim will dig several holes in the garden of Reneenee, in the size and scale of her body. Over the hours of the dig Kim examines and reflects upon the conditions of soils, exertion and exhaustion, time and scale, alongside roles and rules of physical labor in our society.

A sound piece from the mound of excavated soil will accompany Kim throughout her dig. The mounds of soil will also be supported by a skeleton of ceramic earthenware walls, made from sand and clay dug up in the Dutch national park ‘De Hoge Veluwe’ and Schophem in Belgium.

For a geographical overview of previous digs see:

Dig, performance at Renenee

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Guest performances

Marie Ilse Bourlanges


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Glenn Ryszko


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