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<strong>ROPE</strong> _ DIARY #3 _ OSTEND (BELGIUM)_2018

Ostend_Day 1_The beach<br />

In the distance I saw the sea for the very first<br />

time. They had put me two meters past the<br />

strandline. According to the calculations,<br />

the sea would reach me at precisely 12:34. I<br />

couldn’t wait to feel the water on me, but I had<br />

to wait, and could only watch as the sea came<br />

closer very slowly. I tried to think, as hard as<br />

I could: ‘put me closer, NOW’, hoping that<br />

my thoughts would become visible and float<br />

in big letters above me. But no one reacted.<br />

Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking the<br />

‘NOW’ the way I did, because people might<br />

find that too compulsive for a rope. Anyway, I<br />

was still, like always, completely stuck within<br />

myself, completely motionless. Like a thing.<br />

Like a rope.<br />

About twenty children had set up their<br />

camping place for the day around me. They<br />

heard me. They heard how impatient I was,<br />

and they tried to bring the sea closer to me<br />

with buckets and little canals. I know now that,<br />

if I think very loudly, some kids can actually<br />

hear me. At 12:15 it happened. The first wave<br />

flowed right under me.<br />

Everything went quiet. I heard two words.<br />

Again and again. The same words. The sea, it<br />

appeared, talks in one continuous stream and<br />

keeps repeating the same two words. Which<br />

are either ‘here’ and ‘there’ or ‘to’ and ‘fro’. It’s<br />

impossible to tell. And the closer she flowed,<br />

the more voices I could hear.<br />

When I was all dried up, the camping place<br />

kids carried me to a wide pathway between the<br />

cabins. It looked as if I had arrived at a village<br />

square. Everyone was looking at me, everyone<br />

seemed to know each other and most of them<br />

had owned the same cabin for over twenty<br />

years now. It was a cabin neighbourhood with<br />

cabin neighbours, sand streets and a sand<br />

square. Pierre introduced us, and sent me to<br />

Willy, who had a very special cabin, and Ief<br />

had to take pictures with this one and that<br />

one and with me. Almost everyone came from<br />

Ostend and according to Pierre, you could<br />

recognize foreigners by their white skins.<br />

Pierre examined me very closely, so closely<br />

I could see my own reflection in his pair of<br />

glasses. I have a blue skin. Where do I come<br />


Ostend_Day 2_Saint Catharina square<br />

Today I functioned as a temporary social<br />

space on the Saint-Catharina Square. They put<br />

me in a spiral and throughout the day I slowly<br />

transformed as various conversations and<br />

games took place on top of me.<br />

A group of kids was jumping, hanging, and<br />

playing on me the entire day. Mike introduced<br />

me to a lot of people, and he said that this<br />

Saturday, along with Ronny twenty others,<br />

they would carry me to the Hema and lots of<br />

other stores.<br />

Fabrice will come over tomorrow to take<br />

pictures, and tomorrow I’m going with<br />

Anthony to the Friday Prayer.<br />


Ostend_Day 3_The Mosque<br />

“Ief: I’m sorry Rope. You would have loved it.<br />

It was huge.<br />

Rope: It’s fine. It was too busy. There were too<br />

many people at the Friday Prayer. I couldn’t fit<br />

in. “<br />

A bit before two in the afternoon I was brought<br />

by the people from the square to the Mosque<br />

and put in front of the door, so I could get a<br />

glimpse from inside the Mosque. I couldn’t<br />

actually go inside; there were too many people<br />

and a rope of 60 meters just didn’t quite fit. Ief<br />

did go to the ceremony. Afterwards the people<br />

coming of the mosque brought me back to<br />

the square. That happened so naturally. It is<br />

unbelievable how something like this can just<br />

naturally happen again and again. A number of<br />

people lift you up, and suddenly you’re being<br />

carried by twenty people.<br />

19:30 we had to leave. I said goodbye to the<br />

kids I might never get to see again. They didn’t<br />

want me to go. I was sad. I though as loudly as<br />

I could: ‘you guys are GREAT’. I’m sure they<br />

noticed.<br />

At 8 pm we met up with Anthony at the<br />

mosque to take a picture inside the empty<br />

mosque after all. Ief and Senne had to take off<br />

their shoes. Slowly they dragged me inside.<br />

We were all alone. It was an enormous space<br />

with a thick red carpet with the same patterns<br />

everywhere. They laid me in a perfect circle,<br />

as they would have done during the prayer. I<br />

imagined that on each square on the carpet,<br />

there was standing one man. There are 512<br />

squares so that would have been 512 men. It<br />

is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that<br />

you would know that, of course.<br />

Rope<br />

The kids were happy to see me again. As<br />

promised, Fabrice brought a camera and took<br />

some pictures. The kids played and played. At

Ostend_Day 4_The harbor<br />

I could feel the collective sorrow of this place:<br />

the Oosteroever. Gradually the old fishing<br />

port has to make place for luxury apartments,<br />

the ‘Coucke torens’, they call it here. Willy, a<br />

ship owner, gave us a tour. He took us to the<br />

Marie’s café, Café Végé, which is closing its<br />

doors after 58 years. The property is being<br />

demolished, along with all the fishermen’s<br />

stories that lie within those walls. We drank<br />

beer and coffee there, with Krul, Willy,<br />

Maurice, and Marie. Willy buys old boats to<br />

protect them from being demolished. Because<br />

they are beautiful and valuable and part of the<br />

heritage of this place. Willy fights for a dying<br />

world. For this dying world.<br />

Two houses down the street there was ‘het<br />

Compas’, a shop that sells ropes and boat<br />

attributes. Het Compas will disappear in 2020.<br />

‘I have another space here at the back’, said<br />

the shop lady. ‘The stockroom, maybe this is<br />

interesting, we stock all our ropes there, all<br />

on a roll, in all colours and sizes.’ All together<br />

there was 14,478 meters of rope. Ropes<br />

immediately know from one another how long<br />

they are. It was a wild reunion. Everything<br />

was said there! Little ropes talk non-stop,<br />

just like the sea, but they never say the same<br />

word twice. They talk until all words have<br />

been used, and then, after a long sigh, they<br />

start over. As if they talk through their whole<br />

length. ‘You’re leaving!’ I screamed in between<br />

their jabbering, ‘You’re leaving! Everyone’s<br />

been talking about leaving, about fishermen<br />

who can’t fish anymore and about periods of<br />

leaving that are getting shorter.’ The collective<br />

sorrow of this place, of Marieke who mourns<br />

her dead husband. Of the sorrow of the<br />

sorrow of the sorrow.<br />

In the afternoon I was lying on the<br />

Wapenplein. At the heart of the shopping<br />

centers. We didn’t really know what we would<br />

do. After exploring the area we decided to<br />

collect 30 people and walk down the entire<br />

Kappelestraat. There was a fair and the street<br />

was filled with people. After about ten minutes<br />

I was full of people. Ief, Sietse, and Senne<br />

explained who they were sitting on and asked<br />

people to help carry me. After 20 minutes we

had collected enough people. Ief let the people<br />

spread out and urged the front man to start<br />

walking. Being lifted up feels an awful lot like<br />

falling. There weren’t many of us, you never<br />

know if you’ll succeed. You come off the<br />

ground, and that is the moment of falling. And<br />

suddenly you’re floating above the ground<br />

and you’re walking in a sea of people. I have<br />

never seen so many eyes before. Eyes of<br />

people but also eyes of things in the stores.<br />

Sales items with a price, knowing exactly what<br />

they’re meant for. All eyes of the people and<br />

things staring at me asked one thing only:<br />

‘What are you?’ I wished I could close my<br />

eyes, but I don’t have any eyes to close, I am<br />

doomed to always see. Half a kilometer, being<br />

60 meters long, I had to go through this world<br />

of curious eyes. It felt like a penance. At the<br />

end of the Kapellestraat Ief made the front<br />

man walk in a spiral, so I would end up in a<br />

nice round heap. I crawled back within myself<br />

and thought of Marie, and of Willy, Maurice,<br />

and of Krul.<br />


Ostend_Day 5_The sailor<br />

Today they would put me over the shoulders<br />

of the Sailor from the National Monument<br />

for the Sailors. Statues don’t speak, just like<br />

me, so we would have a lot to talk about with<br />

each other. But we hadn’t counted on the<br />

steeplejack who was actually a not-steepenough-jack.<br />

They lifted me as high as they<br />

could with the not-steep-enough-jack and took<br />

multiple pictures of me, to ‘stitch’ (that’s what<br />

the photographer called it) all these images<br />

and make a montage with them.<br />

I asked the Sailor what he was looking at. He<br />

said that he keeps staring at the same point at<br />

the horizon. I asked him if his eyes had always<br />

been made of stone or if they had turned to<br />

stone by always looking at the exact same<br />

point. He said that his eyes are the collective<br />

eyes of all the dead sailors. That the eyes<br />

of the dead sailors turn to stone and then<br />

become his eyes. And that he looks at the<br />

horizon with thousands of dead Sailor eyes at<br />

the same time. He asked me whether I was a<br />

boy or a girl. I said I didn’t know but that not<br />

knowing made me very modern. I told him<br />

that there used to be a lighthouse here for<br />

the sailors at the horizon to see the light from<br />

the lighthouse. He said he didn’t know that.<br />

That he thought it was very special that living<br />

sailors at the horizon used to look over here,<br />

and that dead sailors now look from here to<br />

the horizon.<br />

I told him I went to the Végéetje yesterday.<br />

That is was a very nice café. He said that the<br />

people from the Végéetje were here now. He<br />

said that in their way of watching he could feel<br />

their joy and sorrow. I told him that I would<br />

love to sail to the horizon like sailors do, but<br />

that I could not float and that I would sink to<br />

the bottom of the ocean if I ever ended up in<br />

the water. I asked him if my eyes, which I do<br />

not have, would then also turn to stone and<br />

become his eyes. He said that that question<br />

was way too complicated for a monument like<br />

him. It is also a complicated matter for me, I<br />

said. I’m not sure to tell whether I’m sinking or<br />

dying if I fall overboard.<br />


Ostend_Day 6 Around Rope - Saskia<br />

De Coster<br />

Ten floors he descends<br />

No, there are fewer<br />

Sometimes he just says whatever, he<br />

says<br />

He saw four letters burning<br />

On the ground in the park<br />

HELLO it said<br />

If he gets a good day, he is polite<br />

And gives one back<br />

Rope said hi, he came<br />

He just says whatever<br />

He will be honest standing here now<br />

Rope looked nicer from his window<br />

Still packed, under the plastic<br />

Rolled up like a promise<br />

What is it he’s saying<br />

Words are dangerous<br />

Every word he speaks now<br />

Will soon have him<br />

Tossing and turning<br />

He should have kept shut<br />

Should have just watched and lie still<br />

Just like Rope<br />

On the sofa made of grass in the park<br />

under his window in the Nieuwe Stad in<br />

Ostend in the world<br />

For thirty years now he has been going<br />

to the psychiatrist and he said he said<br />

Whatever<br />

He is Stefaan Banaan<br />

He taps his fat belly and laughs<br />

Does not want to be on the picture<br />

Because he intrudes the void by existing<br />

Will not talk in the bar<br />

Because he intrudes with his words<br />

He wants to keep silent out of respect<br />

Otherwise the conversation<br />

Will be a noose round his neck<br />

The doctor told him to never work again<br />

Or he will never cease his thinking<br />

Will be drowning in a black pool<br />

That he dug in his own head<br />

Maybe Rope could for a moment<br />

Become a square<br />

As to contain everything<br />

He has barely spoken the words and<br />

The blue Rope already lies there<br />

Squarely at his feet<br />

It is a miracle here on earth<br />

That he speaks and is heard<br />

And if he looks from his window way up<br />

high<br />

He see down there in the park<br />

On top of the four letters of that day<br />

A blue bed to lie on<br />

To find peace and quiet<br />

He dreams of a detached house filled<br />

with rest<br />

And barbeques and music<br />

But Rope is already something<br />

Rope looks like a swimming pool<br />

See, what does he say now<br />

It was lovely, Rope<br />

Now he’s tired, time to say goodbye<br />

The rain falls suddenly out of the sky<br />

Rope turns into a mop<br />

Even the clouds obey him every time<br />

I can hardly believe<br />

Sorry for saying so many dumb things,<br />

he mutters<br />

Only Rope can hear him

Ostend_Day 7 Around Rope - Saskia<br />

De Coster<br />

Let me tell you something, little girl,<br />

I’m ninety-nine years old, what are you<br />

saying, I can’t hear you, you want to tell<br />

me something about a rope? I’m ninetynine<br />

years old, I have lived everywhere<br />

on earth, let me tell you something,<br />

come, let’s sit down, I was the wife of<br />

an expat, I only drank Pina Coladas<br />

in the Caribbean, gained 5 kilograms,<br />

that rope yes, that rope, my sister is a<br />

hundred-and-one, listen to me…<br />

You don’t need to be a stranger to me,<br />

you don’t need to keep all that distance,<br />

now you’re even walking on the other<br />

side of the rope… Move aside, let my<br />

wife and kids through, I have a day off, I<br />

would love to help, don’t get me wrong,<br />

but I’m not gonna work myself into a<br />

sweat to help carry that rope, I have to<br />

do a barbecue…<br />

Excuse me, what is the purpose of<br />

this, oh it doesn’t have a purpose,<br />

that’s good, a bird also sings without a<br />

purpose... Okay but that’s easy, I can<br />

do that too… But no, only an artist can<br />

make that… Yeah, sure, don’t try to fool<br />

me… Congratulations everyone this<br />

here is nicely made… Can I just step<br />

over it? ... That little dog doesn’t ask, it<br />

steps… it doesn’t step, it leaps… Look<br />

what they’re doing now, they’re lifting<br />

the rope, do you think it weighs a lot?<br />

... Twenty people in a procession with<br />

that thing… It looks like a cult… Oh, it<br />

is a cult? That’s what I thought, now I<br />

understand… It’s a movement… Ha ha<br />

yes, they’re moving, that’s for sure…<br />

Look at them go, walking on the front,<br />

towards the casino…<br />

And I, I’m like watching the rope, and<br />

I’m losing myself... What is this thing<br />

doing here… in a curl like an orange<br />

peel, that’s wonderful… Can I feel it,<br />

I’m gonna feel it… Give it a hug? I don’t<br />

know, it’s kinda big…. Say, kids, look<br />

how beautiful this is, careful, don’t break<br />

it, don’t jump on it, oh, they can jump on<br />

it, alright jump kids, jump, careful, before<br />

you know it you’ll lose a front tooth and<br />

later you’ll say: at the Casino of Ostend<br />

on a blue rope I lost my grown-up front<br />

tooth….<br />

The monster of Loch Ness is here, the<br />

kids say while climbing the worm and<br />

tugging it, finally we’ve found him, we’ve<br />

been searching our whole life… And me,<br />

I only watched and now I’m humming a<br />

tune while walking the front… Don’t be a<br />

stranger to me, my heart is like an apple<br />

tree, my heart is a stowaway on the big<br />

cruise ship of the world… in the hold lies<br />

a rope that doesn’t belong there

“I am Rope. I am a rope. I am 60 meters long<br />

and 30 cm thick. I weigh 196 kg. It would take<br />

25 people to carry me.<br />

I was born in April, 2017. A team of five handbraided<br />

me in thirty-eight days. I think it<br />

was somewhere in Leuven, Belgium. It is a<br />

confusing experience, being braided.<br />

They made me absurdly big, bigger than all<br />

the other ropes. I just don’t know what to<br />

do with myself. I am traveling to find new<br />

meaning and function.<br />

Do something with me.<br />

Rope”<br />

Rope is a rope of 60 meters in length<br />

and 30 cm in diameter. It has been made<br />

disproportionately large and has therefore<br />

lost its function. Its inventor, the Belgian artist<br />

Ief Spincemaille, travels with Rope to give it<br />

new function and meaning. He shows up with<br />

this sculpture and improvises. The energy<br />

between Rope and the reality it finds creates<br />

new uses for it, and gives it purpose. Rope’s<br />

message is clear: “Do something with me!”<br />

During these travels, Rope writes a diary<br />

about what it is experiencing, telling a tale<br />

about the places where it has been. This dairy<br />

is the result of the seven day long journey<br />

of Rope on Theatre at Sea 2018 in Ostend<br />

(Belgium).<br />

Spincemaille calls Rope an open-design<br />

instrument. Rope, like a camera or brush,<br />

is a medium for imagining a reality. This<br />

imagination arises from the inspiration,<br />

dynamism and energy of the place where<br />

Rope is placed. Creations with Rope are<br />

therefore fundamentally open: the interaction<br />

with different people and places with their<br />

own value systems, dreams and goals are the<br />

building blocks of the creative process. As<br />

an outsider who does not have to abide by<br />

existing protocols, Rope enters new arenas<br />

every time, with the urge to discover, to<br />

change, and - especially - reinvent itself.<br />

www.ropeblog.net - www.iefspincemaille.com<br />

From: Ief Spincemaille. ASSISTANCE: Sietstse<br />

Remmers and Senne Vanderschelden.<br />

TEXTILERESEARCH: Kaat Boon, Bout De<br />

Beul, Leila Boukhalfa, Charlotte Stuby, Rubis.<br />

WITH SUPPORT OF: the Flemish government<br />

& N.O.W., Creative Europe Programme of<br />

the European Union and the city of Ostend.<br />

PICTURES: Ief Spincemaille except pages<br />

14, 15 and 21 by Pieter Michiels. TEXTS: Ief<br />

Spincemaille except pages 19 and 21 by Saskia<br />

De Coster

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