26 October till 5 December 2015

GRINNING MACHINES and a CLOSEMOUTHED GROWL

Residency Toon Fibbe, Laura Wiedijk

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In the parallel, digital universe of the internet, there is a subculture of people who deep down identify themselves not as human, but as an animal or mystical being. They carry the soul, for example, of a wolf, a fox, a cat, a fairy, a vampire, an angel or a demon. They mostly meet on internet forums where they express their otherness, look for explanations for their animal or mythical origins, and share tips on how to function in a society in which they are so significantly different. They call themselves ‘Otherkin’ and they take their identity seriously.

How can we understand Otherkin? That is the question artists Toon Fibbe and Laura Wiedijk asked themselves. Is the radical denial of their human descent an escape from a high-demanding, fast-paced society, or is it a radical act against a capitalist system in which every form of otherness is categorised or turned into a product? How do their fantasies, stories and myths relate to everyday reality offline?

Artists Toon Fibbe and Laura Wiedijk go undercover in this internet society looking for a potential interface between reality and fiction. They take on the identity of an animal or mythical being and explore the rules of the game. Their starting point is the similarity in name between the etymology of Beetsterzwaag (de meadows of Beet) and the name of the special, almost sacred place of the Otherkin: the Bitten Meadow (San Antonia, US). From the Frisian Bitten Meadow, the artists create new stories and myths through performances and interventions in the open field (offline), and on various internet forums and other online platforms. Beetsterzwaag becomes the nerve centre of an operation that entangles and disentangles fiction and non-fiction, in a continuing feedback loop of offline and online, action and reaction.

Laura Wiedijk (Wageningen, 1985) plays in her installations and inkjet prints with common presentation formats from the advertising world, such as posters and displays. She sees her work as a praise of all artificial ploys, a celebration of the exuberant and the splendid. The colourful, often particularly detailed posters draw the viewer into a wondrous, kaleidoscopic universe. Laura Wiedijk graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 2010, and participated in residency programs, such as WIELS (Brussels) and FABRIKculture (Hegenheim, FR).

Toon Fibbe (Rotterdam, 1987) explores the divergent, the marginal, the subtext in his videos and performances. He directs situations in which communication falters or takes an unexpected turn. His work raises questions on how individuals and groups live and work together. Toon Fibbe graduated from the Piet Zwart Institute in 2012. He is currently involved in the residency program of the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.