"The fact that there was so much lawlessness in the way you had to deal with things just really allowed you to build what you wanted.
You really had much more control over your life than most people have!"
"For me it was more about becoming more autonomous.
I mean, there actually is a lot of comfort in a certain amount of self-sufficiency,
for example having to chop wood to keep the place warm during the winter instead of having to have a contract with an energy supplier.
And we still had Internet and Facebook! We were never cut off!"
"I had to get away from the the over-regulated area of town. There is no space for me anymore. It became too normal - too bourgeois.
[ ... ]
You do not have to have a 9-5 job, living in a concrete box, standing in city traffic every morning.
There are still choices in life! You do not have to do that. It can be done differently!”
* * *
In January 2012 AK9, an artist run studio space in Amsterdam, burned to the ground. Thick black smoke caused traffic jams on nearby highways, airplanes approaching the city airport had to take alternative routes and the event was covered by several newspapers and TV channels: Surreal indeed, like an act of war that happened somewhere else.
Everybody got out just in time.
The reason for the blaze was never found and the ground that once belonged to AK9 has been taken over by a neighbouring company. AK9 neither was insured, nor legally protected in any other way. It disappeared with everything in it.
The only failsafe for the victims was a network of people supporting each other.
What else remains?
* * *
AK9 now exists as a ‘mobile site’: an embodied presence that resonates with its former existence.
As an installation it is composed of fragments that contain everything that is left of the space: A projection screen (180cm x 320cm x 10xm) and two seats (65cm x 50cm x 35cm) are cast in resin. They are made from destroyed burned objects, which were collected on site before the rest went into a landfill, reconfigured and reshaped. It is an architectural space, made to show an edited version of a digital archive of damaged clips that were shot inside AK9 before it disappeared.
The Video Loop (14:25 min) consists of colourful glitches and digital fragments, damaged and incoherent because it had to be recovered from a broken hard disk. Bits and pieces of conversations between former residents add a layer of living memory. At the same time the projection screen is designed to emit the sound of the video via sound transducers, speakers that work with the vibration of the material they are attached to instead of relying on speaker membranes. It fills the surrounding space with its sound.
* * *
Invitation / Alternativa, Gdansk / 24.06. - 15.09.2016