The work Theater 1:1 Waterschei is a reprise of Theatre 1:1 Marchienne au Pont. This work was made this summer as part of the project Hotel Charleroi and is a continuation of other projects Stijn Van Dorpe recently realized, such as A Small History of Modernity (Nijmegen, 2013). All these works take as their central focus the creative work of others. It is not the artist’s aim to focus on creativity as such, but rather to question its significance in our socio-economic, neoliberal reality.
For the Theater 1:1 Waterschei project, Stijn Van Dorpe asked several artists from Waterschei to provide work for an exhibition he organized in the framework of his FLACC residence. He photographed each work and made nuberous photocopies of his record. He organized several workshops with local children in collaboration with a socio-cultural organization for neighbourhood youths and the local primary school and asked the children to be creative with one or more photocopies of a specific work of art. They were meant to create a new image by cutting, ripping, gluing and manipulating the photocopies. These new images were exhibited along with the original artworks in the casino of Waterschei, which is also where FLACC is located.
The works form two separate groups in the exhibition. The works of the local artists are presented on one wall, the works of the children on another. This arrangement brings together two generations and creates a juxtaposition of the works of the older generation and the creative reworkings and reinterpretations of the youths.
This logic of innovation is deeply ingrained in our cultural, social and educational thinking. Children must acquire information and skills which are then translated and processed into something new. It is this logic which is repeated here as a theatre of everyday life. Artists create work which they want to show, and children are supposed to renew that which already exists. This mental exercise contains both elements of destruction and of deference.
By working with children and local artists who are often not taken seriously in the 'real' contemporary art world, Stijn Van Dorpe breaks away from the elitist idea of contemporary art, as well as the contemporary art world which FLACC, in fact, forms part of. A certain discrepancy exists between his intentions and the intentions of the participating artists and children. The artists want to show their work, and the children, obviously, are part of an educational system. It is not unfair to say that these people are being used to realise his installation. In this way, the work falls between two worlds.
The whole project, and all of its components, can therefore be seen as documents with an educational and questioning character. They are situated in an intermediate zone between the elitist contemporary art world and its prevailing cultural and educational background.