The launch event of Heterotropics invited audiences to a one-day performance trip in the 'Orient of Amsterdam,' across a space of otherness and projection known as the Indische Buurt (the 'Indies' Neighborhood).
Named after the geographical concepts of the former Dutch East Indies — today’s Indonesia — the Indische Buurt was built at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Dutch colonial empire was still in place. It is not a coincidence, I believe, that the Indische Buurt is situated in close proximity to the Tropenmuseum, the Zoo and the old colonial harbour (the 'Oostelijk Havengebied'). Its street names are the remainders of the same colonial displacement. They may be arrived together with objects, animals and spices on board the same VOC ships and got trapped there, in a false place, to seduce the local imagination. Toponyms like Balistraat or Javastraat create projected lines of desire between a 'here' and an 'elsewhere'. Channeling our minds to the tropical islands of Indonesia, they reverberate a sense of longing and colonial appropriation which is reinforced by the exotic imagery also used by local cafés and consumer culture.
For Heterotropics#1 the psycho-geography of the Indische Buurt was twisted into an escapist stage. The audience was invited to be a voyeur and wander through dreamy images, historical oxymora and semiotic fetishism. Through a manifold dramaturgy of exhibitions, performances, and a boat trip, the program did not address the Indische Buurt in its current socio-political and urban configuration but mirrored its distorted images. Different interventions by Alex2000 & Pauline Curnier Jardin, David Bernstein & Jokūbas Čižikas and Jacopo Miliani composed an itinerant event unfolding the raveling of language, simulacra, voyeurism and voyage.
The Indische Buurt bears witness to guilty pleasures and triggers the construction of a fantasy world that is forgetful of its history. Heterotropics#1 entered and stretched even further the breath of this imagination embracing and exposing its contradictions:
How can places inhabit names of other places? How can the past be named and keep being forgotten? Can names be collected and exhibited to fight the destructiveness of time?
Connecting private and public spaces, as well as blending physical and mental dimensions, the event aimed to tackle the uncanny links between exoticism and exhibiting, eroticism and collecting.
Whereas the encounter between Alex2000 and Pauline Curnier Jardin denuded the eroticism of gazing in a domestic and private context, the open-air dance performance The Parrot conceived by Jacopo Miliani was a mirage of language as an impossible possession but also as a recursive déjà-vu that possesses us. The story-telling tour So Far We Safari by David Bernstein and Jokūbas Čižikas mocked the rhetorics of safari expeditions and took the public on a boat trip between imaginary islands, connecting, both literally and geographically, 'departing' to 'collecting.'