LKN Confidential

8/05 - 18:00
9/05 - 14:00 > 18:00
14, 15/05 - 14:00 > 20:00
16/05 - 14:00 > 18:00
21, 22/05 - 14:00 > 20:00
23/05 - 14:00 > 18:00
28, 29/05 - 14:00 > 20:00
Video (loop): 20mi

The Italian ZimmerFrei collective has been making audiovisual city portraits for years. In May 2010 the threesome will invade an entire street near the festival centre, the Rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat: art galleries alongside Chinese takeaway restaurants and tapas bars, the timeless glory of a traditional chemist’s shop facing the steamed glass door of warm-smelling laundrettes. ZimmerFrei portrays the street using close-ups of the shop owners. From the Halal Snack Bar to the house of the cultural organization BNA/BBOT, all allow Zimmerfrei to take a look inside their workspace and their dreams. LKN Confidential is a video installation about the intimate life of the Rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat that also leaves traces in the street itself, near the flower shop, the neon signs, the video store... By means of small interventions, details in shop windows, sonic traces in shops and stores, the entire street is turned into a temporary installation, an invitation to (re)discover a Brussels “slice of life”.

Concept & direction

Anna Rispoli

Camera & editing
Anna de Manincor

Massimo Carozzi

Artistic advisors
Helga Baert, Séverine Janssen

Camera assistant
Chiara Balsamo

Helga Baert, Marieke Van Rooy, Wouter

With the participation of
the shop tenants of the Rue
de Laeken/Lakenstraat

Militaria, Boulangerie La Palette Gourmande, Fleuriste Jettie, Wash Club, Aquarium Desbarax, Articles Cadeau, Rotor, DVD Shop / Chichina , Galerie Athena, Patisserie Michel, Neon Signs, Droguerie Le Lion, Coiffure International Tonino, Café Che, Restaurant Stella Solaris, Buvette Chez Henry, A. Jurisse - Suprème Conseil de Belgique, Musée Belge de la Franc-Maçonnerie

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LKN Confidential

ZimmerFrei is a collective of three artists: Anna de Manincor, Massimo Carozzi and Anna Rispoli. On 3 April, Lars Kwakkenbos spoke with Anna Rispoli about the main ideas behind LKN Confidential.

What kind of portrait does ZimmerFrei want to present of rue de Laeken/Lakensestraat by making LKN Confidential?

LKN is a deep plunge into rue de Laeken and its commercial dimension; we wanted to discover the richness and variety of people and goods by asking the shop tenants to be our guides for this journey. The film deals with the street’s past and present: lots of shops are closed now, and new ones are opening.

Once we had isolated this little piece of Brussels, we realised that something was calling us from below the surface. You can call it a search for a hidden channel of knowledge, if you like. We imagined rue de Laeken to be a “ley line”. The concept of a ley line comes from Alfred Watkins, an archaeologist who formulated the idea in the early 1920s. According to this concept, which may sound a bit mystical, energetically dense monuments or places are connected by straight lines, leading the imaginative power from one place to another. One of these energetically dense places might be Park 58, a symbol of the dream of a modern Brussels. On the other edge of the street there is the frituur, an anchor point of Belgian identity. which stands at the border of Brussels and at the beginning of the way to Flanders, where many of the tenants want to live.

Standing on top of Park 58 you see the street as a straight line, from a point of view that reflects a late 1950s and 1960s perspective. This perspective reflects a faith in the future, and a trust in commerce and economic development and in wealth. This belle époque was often evoked during interviews with the shop tenants. Most of the elder tenants started by saying that rue de Laeken is not what it used to be. By saying this, they turned the era they were talking about into a beautiful ghost: it was chic and shiny, everyone was going there, there were three flower shops...

You did the interviews. Which questions did you ask?

We asked them about the future. A lot. And then we asked them if they stole something from the past. Lots of these shops are passed on from generation to generation. Some of them are really old. We were curious about the relationship between different generations.

Our goal was not to make a documentary about the commercial past and present of the street. We wanted to give a different perspective, by having more intimate and confidential conversations with the shop tenants. As a client, in most shops you usually don’t really have time to hang out, once you’ve entered them. Why would you stay there? You have to buy something, and then you have to get out. In our film, there will be an expansion of time that you can use to smell and absorb the atmosphere of the shop. We just wanted to access this privileged dimension and share it with the public. Only within this dimension lies the possibility to start talking about life and asking questions you cannot answer. In a way, we are using the experience of the shop keepers to carry out our own research, to travel through the very special wisdom of rue de Laeken. Everyone is teaching us something, or revealing us a secret, even when they are not aware of it.

Most of the projects of ZimmerFrei are characterised by a complex concept of time. Can you speak a bit more about the concept of time in LKN Confidential?

In this film time is floating. We try to erase the overload of reality around, in order to reveal a hidden dimension. We would like to discover a secret place. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but we start by suggesting it does. The idea is that for a while, time is suspended in rue de Laeken.

Someone that we interviewed quoted Bergson: human beings are different from animals because they are aware of time and death. Of course this is a very Western point of view, but when one approaches rue the Laeken, it may create an interesting perspective on its past and present. Commerce is action, money, things, objects, relationships, progress. You believe things will be better and you have to work for things to be better.

In the Sixties the dream seemed to be perfect. Nowadays we proclaim a different idea. The faith that the dream might be fulfilled seems not so sure anymore; there are some holes in it, at least. We are fascinated by the fact that this dream is still so present, though. When you want to believe in the future, or hope there will be progress and that your children will have a better life, it is the only ghost you can easily attach to. When Bergson suggests that we are special because we can conceive our death, we try to imagine rue de Laeken as a place that embodies this wisdom. What happens if time stops? If time doesn’t exist anymore, if it doesn’t move in a linear way?

Another question that we tried to ask – and this was a very difficult one – was, can you imagine your world of things without you? Can you imagine how this world will exist and evolve without you? Will it continue to exist, will it disappear? This was difficult to ask, of course, because it evokes the big taboo of death. It was not death itself though we were interested in. What interests us are the traces. The sticky resistance of time. The fact that your passage leaves traces, you move things, you change stuff. How does your existence become a shape, and how can this shape be taken over by someone else?

You have already used the word ghost two times. What do you mean by this?

Traces of the past, as well as imaginings about the future. The faith in the future is a ghost for me. It is like a group of shapes you give a name to, in order to project your moral strength, hope, desires, imagination… onto. It is like a group of shapes onto which you project immaterial things.

That might bring us on the topic of film.

I am not sure all the shop tenants will recognise themselves in this film. We see what you usually don’t have time to observe in their shop. And we’ve put some very special sunglasses on (laughs). In fact it became a fiction movie. You get into a different universe. We don’t make traditional documentaries. We don’t tell the truth, we are liars. Our strategy is a poetic one.

It sounds a bit as if you would like to turn the reality of the rue de Laeken into a dream. Can this dream in its turn have a social power? Can you change society with it?

No, of course not. Whoever makes such a dive in reality, sees a different perspective.

Last year, by turning the facade of two building blocks next to the Brigittines into a concert of lights, switched on and off by the people who were living there, it seemed as if you wanted to change a little part of society as well.

Now you’re talking about the work of Anna Rispoli. The work of ZimmerFrei is different. First of all, because of the medium we’re working with. Film is something different than public art. Secondly, we are a collective, which means that the emotions that influence our work are different. A project of ZimmerFrei is less one on one, therefore less based on intuition, and more reworked. And finally, we don’t make work that directly engages people.

The three of us come from a political experience we had together. We were squatting together and we were engaged in political and social actions. And because we did all this, our art didn’t need to be political. In Italy during the Nineties, the Centri Sociali were the main places to produce underground culture. Back then, you had to separate things. If you did not, artistic practices could easily become charged with the political messages of others. Nowadays, the situation is completely different, but with ZimmerFrei we still do not make political art.

You don’t change society with the work of ZimmerFrei. Do you change reality?

Yes, for sure.

Is there anything more you would like to say about the project?

Yes. Although they are a sound archive, Bruxelles nous appartient/Brussel behoort ons toe agreed to coproduce and host LKN Confidential, which also contains video. We had a very nice exchange about what the oral history of a city is, and I was very touched by the sensitivity of the work they’ve done up till now. With images you can go fast, with sound you can’t. If sound goes fast, you can’t follow. Oral history embodies a form of resistance.

Interview by Lars Kwakkenbos

April 2010

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By a mixture of various formal languages, ZimmerFrei – the collective formed by Anna de Manincor, Massimo Carozzi and Anna Rispoli – explores real as well as imaginary environments where the physical and mental merge into a coherent representation of human experience. The group were invited at the 50th Venice Art Biennial with a videoinstallation by Anna de Manincor/ZimmerFrei and were invited to perform at Reaction, EXTRA 51– Venice Art Biennial. Curator Adam Budak also invited the group for an exhibition at Manifesta07 and Robert Storr exposed a video by ZimmerFrei in the Valencia Biennial at the IVAM Museum. During the 2008-09 season, ZimmerFrei were artists-in-residence at the International Curatorial Program Studio in New York. In 2009 Anna Rispoli made an appearance at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts with its one-off performance of Vorrei tanto tornare a casa.

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