Blaka Watra Spiders

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Blaka Watra Spiders 

Saskia Janssen – Blaka Watra Spiders- Artistic research presentation at Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS – 5/07/08 – 12/07/08

Saskia Janssen mixes a diverse range of media in her work Blaka Watra Spiders – a project developed mostly during 2007 and 2008 in the Blaka Watra users’ room of the Stichting De Regenboog AMOC (Rainbow AMOC Foundation). A user room is a Dutch invention that came into being in the 1980’s, offering drug users a place to take their drugs in an hygenic, safe and social environment. Blaka Watra was one of the first such rooms in Amsterdam and is mostly inhabited by a group of ‘invisible’ users.  Visitors are mostly of Surinamese origin who came to the Netherlands after Surinamese independence in 1975. They are long-term, hard-drug users; average age is between 45 and 65 years. Blaka Watra serves a double function: it offers shelter and protection, but at the same cleans up public space and satisfies the growing demand for a feeling of safety in the public domain. Saskia Janssen often works with specific groups of people. For her it is about making a specific situation visible. A users’ room like Blaka Watra is included in her work simply because she is curious about this invisible group pushed to the sidelines of society and seen by most of us as a source of disruption. Her goal is to get to know the users; the work that develops is a result of this contact. Saskia Janssen does not pretend to improve the users’ situation, she has no ‘good intentions’. But she does aim to bring about something special through this contact. This project is the result of research done by Saskia Janssen through De Lectoraat Kunst en Publieke Ruimte (The Research Group Art and Public Space) of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. The work shown here is developed for and at a very specific place. It is about a place existing right next to public space, paradoxically allowing it to be experienced as public.

Opening: Saturday 5 July, 17 – 19 hours
Duration of the show: 5 July – 12 July Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday 13 – 18 hours
And 1st Sunday of the month 14 – 17 hours (and by appointment)

Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
Rozengracht 207 A, 1016 LZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
T +31(0)20 5304994
F +31(0)20 5304990

*all works in collaboration with Blaka Watra’s visitors: Ebby Addo, Totty Telgt, Herbert Thompson.

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Drawing by Jackson, 2007. Jackson: ‘This is the real shit, man. A spiderweb : That’s my life. The red light district is my web, I am the spider and the tourists are my flies. This web gives me my money, my food, my dope. I am in the middle of it. I share this web with the police. They think they are the spiders and I am the fly’.

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