Within the current growth-oriented Western society, I like to keep myself busy with making stairs. In the series of ‘steps’, I try to give the right to exist to a non-functional and non-efficient approach to ‘growth’.
In the book Life: A user’s manual, George Perec dedicates a chapter to the infrastructure that manifests itself in the stairwell of a French apartment complex. The text addresses issues such as the awkward greetings of inhabitants among themselves, discussions about the responsibility of maintaining this ‘common’ space and the stumbling of people rushing to work. It is textually situated in such a way that I recognised myself in it in an ironic way: I saw myself, as it were, stumbling and shyly climbing my way up. On my way to a better version of myself and an content wise improved artistic practice.
The chapter described above has sparked a thought experiment. Instead of focusing on the ‘higher level’ I wanted to go to, I started to concentrate on the construction that literally takes you to a higher point, the staircase.
I wasn’t aiming to efficiently build a staircase or make one that was pleasant to walk on. The sometimes cumbersome construction process allowed me to learn about a staircase from a different perspective than when I use it functionally. Working with mathematical systems (such as the Pythagorean theorem for calculating the height of the steps) made me transform my frustrations about clumsiness into a curious approach towards the craft behind the construction.
For me, the connection between ‘steps’ and ‘growth’ lies in how we engage in measurable and systematic growth processes and the way we move between different levels of height on a daily basis. Shifting focus creates a space to be able to turn away from the (self-)imposed pressure to perform well both for me as the spectator.
Amel Omar, Emmie Liebregts and Sid Dankers.
* Created from the same sculpture: Banister. But raised one floor.
Three stairs in a shopping windowinstallation, 2020
Collective-initiated, daily rotating exhibition due to the closure of our collective studio space in Breda (NL).
During Shift at De Fabriek, Eindhoven.
The sculpture functioned both as a stand-alone work and as a supported element within the exhibition space. The modular construction ensured that this relatively large object entered into a relationship with the dynamics of the exhibition. For example, the two walls were sometimes pulled apart from the stairs, performances were done on the stairs, and visitors could climb the stairs.
Trapgang is made in collaboration with artists:
Jesse van Epenhuijsen, Sjors Smit and Nadia van Essen.