Guus Vreeburg: Jo McCambridge & Toine Horvers: Portraits

twelve audiovisual encounters of people in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) & Melbourne (Australia)
February 12 - March 7, 1998

  Het Plafond presents the piece 'Portraits' by visual artists Jo McCambridge and Toine Horvers, twelve audiovisual conversations between people from Rotterdam/NL and Melbourne/Australia.
'Portraits' was part of a project by the artists' initiative h. in Melbourne, focussing on the interaction between artistst in Australia and the rest of the world.
'Portraits' consisted of twelve telephone conversations. Each conversation was between two people, one in Rotterdam and the other in Melbourne; simultaneously looking at two sets of slides that each of them took  they discussed what they saw. Underpinning this project was the fact that even though the white inhabitants of Australia are of European descent, there are still big differences between them and us.  In order to get a simple grasp of this phenomenon, twelve people in Rotterdam and twelve in Melbourne were issued with a slide film and asked to make slides of ten clearly defined subjects within their immediate environment. Some of these subjects were quite objective, such as the view from one's sitting room window. Others could be interpreted in a more personal manner, for example a historic building of particular interest to the person involved. These subjects were:

1 a selfportrait, only head and neck
2 living room
3 the view from that livingroom
4 the front of the house or flat
5 a shopping street in your neighbourhood, e.g. where you buy your newspaper
6 a shop window
7 your transport
8 a tree, seen against the sky
9 a public meeting place that you know well
10 a historical building of particular interest to you

During the course of four weeks, telephone contact was established on three fixed days each week between two participants, one in Rotterdam and one in Melbourne, with each of the slides they had taken on the ten subjects being screened side by side on both locations. A simple conversation took place based on these images, with art historian Guus Vreeburg acting as facilitator. The conversations, lasting about half an hour, took place at 8.30 AM Dutch time, or 6.30 PM Australian time. The conversations at the respective locations, Het Plafond in Rotterdam and h. in Melbourne were amplified and the public were invited to experience the audiovisual interaction.

February 1998
Marcelle van Bemmel
Christine Rogers
Maarten Struys
Virginia Kneebone
Jefke van Kerkwijk
Cath Clover
Matthijs van Muijen
Kim Donaldson
Erik Ruttgers
Angus Blackburn
Agaath Rosekrans
Andrew Laird
Ton Pompert
Shaun Kirby
Marianne Smits
Catherine O'Reilly
Niki Koch
John O'Neil
March 1998
Kees van der Knaap
Rose Lang
Ivo van den Baar
Jason Smith
Lillyan van der Velden
Marrilyn Gates

© Guus Vreeburg / Het Plafond, Rotterdam; 980212 /  h. publication,  1998
February 13th, 1998: Maarten Struys (Rotterdam ) meets Virginia Kneebone (Melbourne) - read their conversation here  The kick-off to this project by Jo McCambridge and Toine Horvers - for this one occasion 'partners-in-art' - was a trip they planned to Australia, Jo's home turf. During the preparations it became clear that Toine wouldn't be able to travel after all. Wanting to keep in touch between themselves on the one hand, and to establish contacts between friends at two ends of the globe, Jo and Toine devised 'Portraits'.   After an extended period for preparations - selecting the 2 x 12 participants, defining the ten subjects to be photographed and discussed, the rolls of film being sent off / received back / getting developed and reproduced / and their being 'sneak previewed' - the project went ahead at the Rotterdam end on Saturday January 31st, 1998 - the eve of Jo's departure for Australia, with a festive 'kick off' dinner for all twelve Rotterdam participants - some of them friends already, others relative unfamiliar - at Het Plafond, with Jo cooking one of her 'basic Australian' dinners. The telephone conversations themselves - firmly structured and rigourously planned in time to keep telephone costs at a minimum - resulted in a wonderfully diverse series of international encounters. Some of them understandably took some time to get going, but all of them turned out to be surprisingly personal and lively. The 'homely' slides served wll to pinpoint differences and similarities between 'here' and 'there'. Due to audiences being present at both sides these conversations got the character of serial performative actions - a pleasant early morning (Rotterdam) cq early evening (Melbourne)  ritual.  Equally attractive was that the project proved how easy it can be, even with quite simple means (slides, slide projectors and a telephone line - all still very analogue at the time...) to build a 'bridge' across space and time. Thus, the project was a predecessor of everything that has become a 'piece of cake' in these digital times.  On Saturday Febuary 21st, 1998, immediately succeeding the concversation of that day between Agaath Rosekrans and Andrew Laird, I wrote an extended fax to Jo McCambridge in Melbourne, who was about to leave Melbourne for her native Tasmania - she had witnessed all conversations so far. In the fax I explain how the conversations had developed at the Rotterdam end, and which artistic ideas and issues they had generated. You may read that fax hier.    Recent work by Toine Horvers may be found on his site. Jo McCambridge is no longer active as a visual artist. In January 2001 she started the 'Urban Espresso Bar' / UEB in the centre of Rotterdam.

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