Images by Kelly Donckers & Jonathan De Maeyer
Ghosts in Town
Contributors: Jonathan De Maeyer, Ioana Lupascu, Claire Chassot & Tijana Petrović
What can we do as village dramaturgs in Wortel?
How are/can rural conditions in western and eastern Europe (be) linked?
What makes a house a home?
"Come here, come here!" Her voice carried across the street, beckoning those who knew her.
In the parking lot of De Guld Café in Wortel a slightly taller-than-legal house on wheels stood motionless after a long journey. Its sharp and light grey exterior is a strange invitation for snooping around.
Four individuals stumbled diligently to make this space feel like home, cleaning, wiping, hanging drawings and folding maps. They took breaks for coffee and cigarettes, making the space a little messier. They shyly called the passersby from the Sunday church service or the cafe visitors to join, but there was little avail, and that was also alright. The setting was there as an open invitation.
To the right, next to the bike parking area, a wide canvas displayed a printed image from Bucovina, marking the space between the street and the parking lot. You could see from both sides this atypical landscape had taken residence between two trees. Behind it, bar tables were draped with wine-stained cloths, further, you could spot an open car trunk supermarket refreshments - juices and water. There was no backstage to this parking lot dramaturgy, the stage-like spots set up for intimate chit-chat, snacking, sipping drawing, and hanging out. The air was a simmering scent of coffee, tea, and deliciously hard homemade chocolate cookies.
And then there were five, R stopped in sight of the hanging landscape, and then they joined in helping out. "Come here, come here!" Her voice carried across the parking again, beckoning those who heard her to join in a photo together. And then there were eight, six, twelve, twenty, seventeen, or more.
It rained, maybe for the best. A small group sheltered inside the house on wheels, pushing the Kempen-printed landscape further inside to make space for each other. She spoke about her connection to this place, its history and Ar-tur. Another small group took Polaroid photos of the foreign landscape, drying dripped photos on the clothes. Others stumbled around, in search of nothing in particular while enjoying some snacks.
Sometime past one in the afternoon, under the tone of Andreea’s voice songs from Bucovina were sung. The audience joined in a dancing circle, a hora they call it. This dance is about spinning in circles while holding hands as a big group, the proximity is both awkward and endearing. Some scattered, some spun, and a lot of them took photos and smiled.
Event on the 22nd of Octobre 2023 in Wortel Dorp (Belgium), as part of “dorpsmakersfestival” organised by Ar-Tur, platform for architecture and space in the Kempen.
Many thanks to Ar-Tur for organising this opportunity, to Gheorghiță Macovei from Sint-Jan Baptistkerk, the collective minds of Seasonal Neighbours, Edith Wouters, Ciel Grommen, Maximiliaan Royakkers, Annelies Hofmans, Sien Beyens, Bo Struyf, Zus & Peter Ouwerkerk from Dorpscafé De Guld, Dirk Vanhaute. There are many others that have helped in visible and invisible ways. We are grateful to have met you.