Volkspaleis 2014 – sound and entropy

Volkspaleis 2014
Zuiderstrandtheater Scheveningen
18 October to 16 November 2014

The Zuiderstrandtheater is here to stay; never mind the confusion about its temporary status; it is standing there, so why not use it too. Gallery West organises this year’s Volkspaleis in this new space. Previous editions of this event of a 30 days span, took place in the Turbinehal of the E.On Electriciteitsfabriek and the Grote Kerk in the centre of The Hague. It is organised by Gallery West so mainly video and sound is the expected. A programme full of (experimental) music/ performances; it must be the place to be for sonology students as well as the art&science department of the art academy.

The music programme falls under the title “Public Address/ Hommage à Loudspeaker”; which next to the obvious, performances and concerts, it interprets into lectures/ presentations of the history, aesthetics and functionality of the loudspeaker, the mobility and portability of speakers, the amplified sound, the sounding systems in theatres and finally the absence of them with relation to the acoustic sound. “From maximum volume and electricity, from overwhelming fill and reach to no electricity at all, almost complete silence and acoustic ways of amplifying sound”, I read in the printed programme. In this programme there is also a workshop for constructing DIY speakers by hacking virtuoso Nic Collins, only this weekend; this means that you register from before and go there with a bag of materials (like a radio and batteries and cables) and then the fun begins. I expect the men of the house to come back all excited… but that does not mean that only men participate; not at all.

Of the immobile exhibits, the black&white films in Hall 1 are the first to ask for our attention and time of course; there is a couch at good distance from each of the screens, except from the screen showing the film “Seven songs for Malcolm X” by John Akomfrah (the black audio film collective)-UK1993. For this one you have to stand on a specific point under the speakers, which gives a tough time to whoever wants to see the whole film. In the belief that all is set with a purpose I should think that this is the minimum effort asked from the viewer…but again this is not clear. Anyway, I found this as the most interesting film and very much linked to the present. The other films felt old, though not all of them really are. The outtakes (yes, the rejected material) of Maya Deren’s  “A study in choreography for camera” also feel contemporary in their fragmented narration, sometimes mere repetition of a take which gives an hysterical tone to the result; however, it also lets us look more carefully at the interiors of our grandparents time.

Who says that only in our times you can barely make anything rejected disappear?


"A study in choreography for camera-outtakes" Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Strandtheater

“A study in choreography for camera-outtakes” Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Zuiderstrandtheater

workshop room during the break
DIY workshop room during the break
leaving the Strandtheater towards the town center
leaving the Zuiderstrandtheater towards the town centre

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