Salomé Mooij: sheltering against the flow
Reconstructie van een schuilplaats
It’s almost lunchtime when I speak to Salomé Mooij about her performance Reconstructie van een schuilplaats. The outside world is slowly trickling into De Brakke Grond’s café. This trickle builds to a constant stream of sound, frothing cappuccinos, a baby crying, the clatter of plates. Salomé points to my recorder: “Do you think you’ll be able to hear us?” We relocate to the quiet of the foyer. Salomé: “It’s kind of appropriate that we have to find shelter so we can talk and think about Reconstructie van een schuilplaats.”
Salomé Mooij has been making location-specific works on site since graduating from RITCS in Brussels. She is currently working on her performance in the basement of De Brakke Grond, which will première during Beyond the Black Box. Why didn’t she want to locate the production in a black box?
“It has an alienating quality, the black box,” Salomé says, “you make something which you could then perform exactly the same anywhere else; it doesn’t matter where you are.” Salomé’s work can’t be ‘copy/pasted’ from one space to another, but has to constantly change: “It is really in the world – literally – and it has to have a physical relationship to reality.” In Reconstructie van een schuilplaats, she brings this outside world inside. In the basement, a city unfolds, made up of objects Salomé found on the streets.
Where is the space for free space in a city?
In the show, Salomé takes us into her vision using these found objects and her observations. She invites us to examine and form what is in the shared space in minute detail: “I see it like a build-it-yourself pack, where the audience gradually become involved; either by helping build or being rebuilt. But 'no, thank you' is always an option too.”
In her performance, Salomé explores the free space outside of the purpose-driven, normative nature of the public space. “Where is the space for the free space in a city? At present, this space is placed within a logic of economics: you have to consume something to be there, or otherwise the space imposes norms, determining how you move there, or not. This makes it almost impossible to find your own relationship to a place.” According to Salomé, the kind of free space she is looking for has an influence on the free space within ourselves.
Here, I can just be, I don’t have to do anything and we can just be, together, in this.
Sheltering from purposefulness
During her graduation production, a site-specific work under a bridge in Brussels, Salomé had an moment of inspiration about free space: “To me, it felt like being in a shelter there. Above and to the sides of the bridge you could see and hear normal life going on in the constant, purposeful flow of the city. Those constant swarms having to go somewhere with a purpose and never being still. The feeling I had there, beside the water, under that bridge was: ‘Here, I can just be for a while, just stand still!’ I found it fascinating what that feeling did with me and with my body!” In Reconstructie van een schuilplaats, Salomé hopes to arrive at such a moment with the audience: “Here, I can just be, I don’t have to do anything and we can just be, together, in this.”
Against the flow
For Salomé, taking shelter is not the same as ‘hiding’ – it is all about being visible, taking back the shared space. In the flowing, well-oiled purposefulness of the city, she looks for moments when people go against this flow. “I believe you can also claim shelter where this is not necessarily immediately obvious. Once I saw a young man dancing, by himself, wearing headphones, in the middle of a shopping street, and I thought this was really a mega-shelter, because he’d totally made this himself! To be able to have a moment like that in a place in the outside world means I can feel really at home there.” Sheltering is not something to be done in your living room, but in the outside world – against the flow.
Text: Lies Mensink
Image: Pedro Morato Gabao
Come and experience Reconstructie van een schuilplaats for yourself, from 5 to 8 February during Beyond the Black Box in De Brakke Grond. For more information about the programme, click here.
Salomé Mooij is linked to SoAP Maastricht as an artist. SoAP is the makers’ platform for projects by artists Johannes Bellinkx, Rita Hoofwijk, Nick Steur, TAAT, Benjamin Vandewalle and Salomé Mooij. Taking as its starting point the content of the projects and always in relation to the maker’s artistic practice, SoAP sets out together with the maker to plot a course around a project. This flexible approach gives SoAP its identity. As a platform always in motion, SoAP is constantly on the lookout for the right preconditions for the planning of a creative process.
Interview with Salomé Mooij
Salomé Mooij was theatre-maker in residence at De Brakke Grond in November 2019. Here, she developed Reconstructie van een schuilplaats, an interactive performance that will première on 6 February 2020 during Beyond the Black Box. In this interview, she talks about the background to this work.