Rooms of Now

Photo essay by Maurice van Es
Story by BEA1991

It’s no secret that our generation has developed an unhealthy relationship to real estate. We change addresses more often than profile pictures. We go from pricey closets to smelly lofts with faulty pipes, from improvised house extensions with naked concrete floors to rent-controlled havens with no heating. And yet we can’t help but get attached to every abode, we make them our own unwittingly. For posterity’s sake, we asked two of our favourite artists to create a piece that speaks to our fickle idea of home. Photographer Maurice van Es and electronic pop artist BEA1991 share a love for candid, unguarded moments, elevating the everyday to a higher form by thoughtful documentation. Maurice delved into Rooms of Now, his series of photo books each dedicated to a different house, and made a custom selection for BEA1991’s vignette from the life of a painter.

Aldert Mantje

Mantje stays up late and gets up very early. He passionately lives on red wine, cigarettes and crusty spaghetti bolognese. Nothing embarrasses him, he talks about his past a lot, and he never lets anyone get between him and his paintings.

When I first walked into his cube of existence, what struck me was his negligence of domestic comfort and privacy. A spacious room, no walls dividing it, with just a few small windows lining the edge of the ceiling and tall glass doors opening directly onto the pavement: this home served an infinite necessity to work. Brushes mixed with leftovers in the sink, paint and tools spread out on the floor, canvases propped up along the walls – all together they formed the decor of what a home would look like when in transit.

I met Mantje as the neighbor of my then boyfriend-to-be and asked him to help me paint a large papier-mâché oyster I had made for one of my videoclips called ‘my name is written on it’.

With a stern but touching sort of affection he taught me how to paint the oyster – me avoiding the remainders of something that looked like a bed in the corner, the dirty dishes slowly fermenting all over the kitchen, and the toilet lurking in a dark, damp crack in the wall. Though he was indifferent to the crappy state of his personal hygiene, it made me feel nonplussed at times. But I also felt sanctioned to get drunk in the afternoon and splatter paint all over the place, knock over plates and cups, curse loudly, stamp around in dirty clothes and ultimately feel intensely content.

When the oyster was finished I bought eight large red roses, stuck them in empty wine bottles and placed them in a circle along the floor. When I visited him a few weeks later the bottles had not been moved; my gift had integrated into his version of a home.

Next Thursday, 31 March, Subbacultcha will turn Unfair into an exciting, intimate locale at Zuiveringshal between 17.00 – 21.00. On the same evening, an afterparty at the Westerunie follows from 20.30 until the wee hours of the morning. Subbacultcha <3 Unfair