Paul Hendrikse: All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast
For the solo show at blank – his first ever in Italy – Paul Hendrikse (1977, Terneuzen, the Netherlands) will produce a new series of works that are centered around the Dutch writer Frederik van Eeden's anarchistic colony Walden in Bussum, the Netherlands. Van Eeden (1860 - 1932) was a physician, author, and poet. He had a vast array of interests like psychiatry and psychical research and he travelled extensively. Van Eeden was involved in setting up De Nieuwe Gids, a literary magazine and The Potsdamer Forte-Kreis (1910-1915) a platform for utopian thinking.
Whilst he performed excellently as a psychiatrist, he devoted much of his time to literature and social work. In 1893 he bought a piece of land in Bussum and established a commune which took its inspiration from Henry David Thoreau's book Walden; or, Life in the Woods, published in 1854. Walden details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland near Concord, Massachusetts. Van Eeden's Walden was one of several communes that were set up in the area: these communes had in common that communal living and other modes of production, as alternatives to the industrial and capitalistic modes of production that came up at that time, were tested. From 1898 on several small companies like a bakery, a chocolate manufacturer, a woodwork-shop, a forge and a pension were established on Walden. The commune attracted a very mixed group of inhabitants, from workers who were searching for ways to survive to doctors and psychiatrists who were interested in experiencing a more simple way of living. Also some of van Eeden's patients were living on Walden. Even though Walden functioned well for a while and was even imitated as far afield as North America the commune was fated to come to an end as early as 1907. Nevertheless did Walden provide the common ground for much of the ideas that were established in the early forms of socialism in the Netherlands.
Hendrikse got interested in Van Eeden and especially in his Walden project and several times he visited the area where the commune used to be. The abundantly green area has now been divided into plots where upper class private houses have been build in between the former Walden buildings during the last century. The other half of the grounds became property of the Dutch defense force in 1951 and contains large barracks. The grounds are not accessible for the public and many plots are monitored by cameras. Hendrikse’s work for blank will focus on the tension between the real space and its extended ideological space and he will do this by making several installations.
Paul Hendrikse produces alternative sets of knowledge around historical ‘facts’. His work often arises out of a fascination with historic persons who have left a mark in the public domain. Leaving aside the master narratives of history and their polished protagonists, the artist turns towards the micro stories of individuals and towards the uncertainties, myths, speculations and distorting representations surrounding them. In his work Hendrikse explores the intersections of history, biography and fiction. His projects often involve performance or performative elements and are mostly the result of extensive research and intense artistic collaboration with authors, actors or philosophers. In recent years he exhibited his work at Bozar, Brussels, Prix de la jeune peinture Belge 2011, SMAK, Ghent, in 2010 (solo), Onomatopee, Eindhoven, in 2010 and 2011 (solo), at Smart Project Space in Amsterdam, 2009 (solo) and at Kunsthalle di Basel in 2010 (group show). This is his third collaboration with e/static, after having participated in “This is the time..” group show in 2007 and after “Multiple Exposure #2”, a performance he did in 2008, for visionair-08.