November 19, 2021 Between 3 pm and 5 pm (performance of 1h30)
“The arrival and departure of the public but also of myself.
One of the first performances I did. I first looked for a suitable location where there is enough passage but also where there are no cars or too many cyclists passing by. I put two chairs in the direction of the passersby. On one of the chairs I stuck a score "pick up the ball of wool and/or take a seat to let this performance piece take place". So when someone grabbed the ball of wool I started knitting. They had the choice of sitting or standing. Most people took a seat on the chair. In total, about seven people sat down that day. Most of the encounters remained wordless, other conversations just lasted very long. The first encounter was a man along with his family. They remained standing along the side. There was no talking and I just barely finished a first knitted row. Meanwhile, he spoke in a language I could not understand to his family. Many people passed by who were curious but did not dare to sit down. Sometimes someone asked if it was ok to take a picture. Then I agreed. Some passers-by read the paper with the text out loud but then had trouble reading certain words because the ball of wool was in the way. After a few minutes of the previous visitors leaving, someone approached me with great enthusiasm. His name was Tom, he lived a few houses away from where I sat, alone. He is forty-four years old and has lived in gent for 8 years, before that he lived in Brussels. He also reads a lot of books and likes to listen to music. With Tom I had the longest conversation of all the visitors. He said he liked to talk, better with women than with men. I agreed with him on that. When he got back up he went to smoke another cigarette along the waterfront. During the conversation with tom, two women stayed for a very long time watching our interaction. I think they also wanted to sit down. After a slightly longer time a couple passed by. First the woman sat down. She didn't say anything. Then she passed the ball of wool to the man, who also said nothing. Then another couple passed by. They wondered what I was making. I hadn’t had an answer yet. Then a Dutch man came and sat down in front of me. In a few short sentences he explained the knitting stitch. He was very impressed and told about how his mother had taught him to knit and how the knitting stitch became always tighter and tighter each time so eventually you could not knit any further. He got up and left. A few minutes later he returned to place four euros in my hand. 'For a pint,' he said and then left again. I had to laugh.
Finally, Tom sat down for a second time. He had been sitting along the waterfront all this time. He asked me what the common thread of my performance was because he likes to have a story to hold on to. In my head I thought 'the common thread is literally in both our hands' but I was trying to give him a story. Then he also said that he got a headache from this experience because it was so intense. I took it as a compliment. He thanked me and left. The last person to sit down did so with great assurance. He had striking blond hair and started talking about how he saw a ball of wool as the world. Everything he said I had a hard time understanding, going from one thing to another. Then someone asked if they can take a picture of us. He jumped off the chair and hopped on. They felt guilty. By the end of the day it was almost completely dark. I could hardly feel my feet anymore. I got up and cleaned up the installation. Only then did I realize that I had put up the wrong score, which was written on the back.
It was striking how curious everyone was who passed by. Many people didn't dare to sit down or just didn't have the time. Perhaps they had hoped for some kind of spectacle. Surprisingly, what I wanted to achieve with the performance actually worked. The audience understood the message. It was also very meditative when no one was sitting on the chair, then I stared in front of me with my focus on one point. I only made eye contact when someone sat down or gave the intention to sit down.
What I found valuable was when someone started to talk by themselves, without asking too many questions. That way I could focus on the knitting and listen in the meantime. Sometimes I also asked questions. Because my focus was on knitting during a conversation, I didn't make as much eye contact with the person sitting in front of me. That made it more accessible in a way because it is less confrontational. “