It’s Been Oh So Quiet

It has been exactly 2 months since my last blog post. So much for writing a post per week. So much has happened that I couldn’t even begin to write it down. Well, maybe I should try:

I left Cape Town for the Tankwa semi desert and helped build and build and build and build and then build some more, the biggest thing they’d ever seen at AfrikaBurn. Subterrafuge surpassed everyone’s imagination, even the people who helped build it. Building only finished on Friday and it was supposed to burned the next day. Supposed as the wind decided otherwise. Minutes before midnight, when it was going to be lit, the wind picked up, as it does in the Tankwa Karoo. For safety reasons the burn had to be postponed, more than a few downwind tents would have caught fire. The disillusion amongst the build crew was huge, we had all been working for weeks or months towards this moment and were ready to see the sorceress completed and the towers burned.

Sunday morning everyone in Subterrafuge camp seemed to feel lost, not knowing what to think of seeing the towers still there, while we all expected without their iconic silhouettes on the horizon. By the time a decision had to be made whether they would burn that night, everyone seemed to have come to terms with the reality of it and felt it wouldn’t feel right to burn them Sunday night. So they are still standing there and probably will until next AfrikaBurn, the decision hasn’t been made, but it seems that just like The Earth Pods and Reflections, Subterrafuge will stand on the Tankwa for a year to be burned at the next AfrikaBurn…

And than there was the rest of AfrikaBurn 2014. How can words describe a burn? It was in fact my first real burn, since Nowhere is kind of a non-burn because strict Spanish fire laws forbid any burning. There was definitely a lot of fire, whether it was to keep you warm during the night, to cook on or one of the many artworks being burned. I’ve heard people who’ve been to that thing in the Nevada desert that they love how wild AfrikaBurn is. It did feel like AfrikaBurn is still potentially fatal or that you could at least lose a limb. On the other hand it felt like a real family affair. I saw a lot of kids and even full three generation families. And being part of the Subterrafuge build crew, which became my family, I felt like a lot of the people who have been building AfrikaBurn for 8 years now are my extended family.

Coming back from a burn is always kind of a shock, especially since it also meant my stay in South Africa and Cape Town was almost coming to an end. It turned out that I hid behind the lentil curtain (the exact opposite of the boereworst curtain) hiding in the green South part of the Cape Peninsula near Cape Point, where supposedly all the hippies live. Those last weeks passed by almost unnoticed, still in this out-of-time mode and before I knew it I was on the train to Jo’burg and then on the plane back to Belgium.

Being back in Europe, I am confronted with a bit of a “reverse culture shock” as a friend called it. The differences between South Africa or more specifically Cape Town and Europe are small, but those little things that are different are all the more striking because of that. I hope I can find the motivation and more importantly words to write a post about that, but that will be for a later date.

Right now my focus is on sorting out admin stuff, of which there seems to be a lot more in Europe than in South Africa (one of those differences). Preparing for Nowhere, for building a new structure with Werkhaus and building our Wonderever barrio once more. And figuring out what I want to do next, come back to grey Belgium to sort out going back to South Africa as soon as possible or staying in Spain and enjoying the European summer…

 

Here are some of the prettiest pictures I have found of Subterrafuge (copyright to respective owners):

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Coming home to Tankwa

I’m just back in Cape Town from a four-day working trip to the Tankwa Karoo to help build Subterrafuge. Arriving around midnight Wednesday night, driving through mud puddles from the couple of rainy days, pitching my tent in the rocky soil, it didn’t register yet but I was coming home. The last few years my home has been everywhere and nowhere. In the same way I came home driving my van onto the Monegros desert for the first time in 2012, Tankwa is one of those special places that instantly feel like home.

Arriving in what will become Tankwa Town even before DPW rock up is such a privilege. Being able to see it grow organically from the few people at our Subterrafuge camp to the thousands that will be for the burn. It doesn’t feel like work, but there is still lot to do and less than 4 weeks to do it. Those cones won’t build themselves!

Being back in Cape Town for a couple of days I already miss Tankwa. Waking up in my little tent in the desert before sunrise, hearing the jackals howl, cooking water for coffee on a wood fire. Getting to work, cutting wood into smaller pieces for cladding of the cones, painting them, putting them on the structure using a kick-ass nail gun, standing on 4 meter scaffolding above the desert. Life doesn’t get better than that.

So I’m off to Tankwa again now, back home. I will be back in Cape Town (my home for the last 6 months) a month and a half from now, only for a couple of weeks before I’m flying back to Brussels (my first home). See you at the Burn or somewhere along the way!

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Time flies

Another Wednesday has come and gone without me posting anything here. I know, it’s becoming embarrassing. All I can say is that time is flying, in little over 2 months I’ll be flying back to Europe. And before that there is of course AfrikaBurn, one of the big reasons I’m here in South Africa. I’ve hooked up with Subterrafuge, in the words of Travis & the AfrikaBurn Comms team: “The biggest artwork ever to grace Tankwa Town’s skyline, subterrafuge is an artistic statement against fracking and will blow your mind when you set eyes on it.” You can bet I’m excited about this and hopefully a crew will go up to the Karoo the next week and I can join them, which will be the first time on the holy Tankwa land. Subterrafuge still needs a lot of cash so if you’ve got any to spare (even as little as 7 Euro), chip in at https://www.thundafund.com/subterrafuge

Last weekend was a blast of another kind, going on a two day surf trip to the Overberg with Papa G and his band of crazy Afrikaans boys. Had some nice surf, breathtaking views, tons of talking kak (and piele), some local craft beers and general good times. If you’re into surfing and located near Cape Town, keep an eye on Slow Tours for the next trip: https://www.facebook.com/slowdrivejourneys Also check out stock. skate co. a Woodstock based skateboarding outfit bringing out some nice skate vids: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFaMMIy4Wg-aP9UAXUVD3NA

So much else has happened, but I can’t even remember what and it’s history now anyway. So yeah, that’s it for now. If you’re going to the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday, drop by in The Bello Studio where Subterrafuge will be raising funds by selling planks, well not really we’re keeping the planks but you can write your name or message on it and it will become part of the sculpture and raffle tickets for an AfrikaBurn ticket draw: https://www.facebook.com/events/637321312972286/?fref=ts

Building excitement!

I’m very excited, it’s getting closer to the Burn in Tankwa and I am very happy to be on the crew of Subterrafuge who will be building the tallest structure ever built on the Karoo. I’m equally excited about Nowhere, where we will be building our Wonderever barrio for the second time and it’s going to be bigger and better. Well def more people camping with us, and looking forward to building an even nicer structure. I’m also taking up a bigger role in the Build Crü as Project Build Lead for one of the new structures build in the Monegros desert. And on top of that I’ll be part of the wonderful team supporting the barrios (what they call theme camps at those other burns) this year. So it looks like it’s going to be a busy and exciting next few months!

Burning Weekend

Just back from the French Burning Weekend near Brussels, Belgium. So many of my favourite people in this world, except my top favourite of the all, my gunsteling. So much smiling my face was hurting. Such crazy beautiful freaks. So much love, so many hugs. Like a whole dance floor of the brightest stars building an amazing galaxy. And then today the comedown, not from drugs, but from being so high on emotion for three days. But it’s ok, enough hugs to get me trough. Thank you all for being so wonderful! Love you all!!!

Liminality

The theme for Nowhere 2013 was liminality. I loved the theme, it was also the one I voted on. But at the same time a hard one to do art around. In retrospect, looking at what Nowhere meant for me, it fits like a glove. As I wrote in my earlier posts about Nowhere, Lost and found, it was a life changing experience. It seems so distant already, even though it was only a month ago, but before Nowhere I was a different person the I am now.

As Wikipedia explains liminality:

In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

This makes complete sense to me, there were a few moments at Nowhere this year where I felt lost, didn’t know whether I was happy or sad, or better, I was both at the same time. And after the event, more precisely while staying for strike, I could clearly feel a difference feel the difference with being at the same place, among the same people not more than a week before, doing build.

And thinking further on this, Nowhere, what it did for me and how it fits a bigger picture, I realise that this transformation was definitely set in at Nowhere 2012, where the theme was Rebirth Earth. Last year I was reborn as a Nobody and this year I passed the threshold and transformed myself into full Nobody adulthood. What this all means in the long run, I don’t know yet, but I can say it is pretty exciting.

Lost and found

Got back from Nowhere yesterday and starting to decompress now. I’ve thought a lot about what Nowhere 2013 was for me. Most of it is impossible to express with words or maybe even at all. But this idea of loosing stuff kind of got stuck in my mind. So here are some thoughts about my experience at Nowhere this year.

This Nowhere was a super intense one. I really felt it and heard and felt from others it was so for them too. The extreme weather, with very high temperatures and more humidity than last year and so many and such hard storms must have had something to do with it. Maybe because of this also a lot of people got ill, tummy flu or whatever it was, a lot of people spent part of Nowhere being violently ill. Either of these break down your defences.

This year was my second Nowhere and last year I felt like I bit off a part but there was a lot more. Probably more than I could chew at that time, so I didn’t feel to bad not going for it completely. This year it feels as if I went for it full on, pushing it as far as my body and mind could take. And I feel like I hit the edge of what I could handle a few times. Which is good, I was ready for it.

Trying to summarize it feels like I lost a lot of things. My mind a few times (or almost at least), my heart definitely two times, my sense of restrain. But most importantly, I lost my fear and my ego. Two things that have kept me from reaching the full me. I can already feel fear and ego are trying to creep back, but I am much more aware of how they do, so I hope I can keep them at bay.

Thanks to loosing stuff I found a lot more than I could ever hoped. I found my self, and love and with this real self-love, something I have missed for a long time. I found openness and determination to go for something, even though I might not yet know what it is exactly. I feel confident I will find it by just going for it, not holding back any more. And most important I found true love, in so many forms and shapes. So many people who are so close to me, closer than I ever let anyone come before. And if feel wonderful!

So Nowhere was truly life changing for me. Much more than any other thing I have experienced before and that includes a year of intense psycho therapy, psychedelic experiences, Native American Church and other Peyote ceremonies, body suspension and last years Nowhere. All these experiences where very intense and did change me, but nothing as much and as deeply as this. Thank you Nowhere!