There has always been a cross-over, an inter-dependence even, between art and architecture. Architects have a great responsibility as they create much of the world we see around us. But they also have a great opportunity to involve and promote art in everything they do. The Rotterdam architectural practise NIO Architecten takes this principal a step further and has converted part of its premises to a space dedicated to the promotion and presentation of fine art.
NIObasement, just off the trendy Witte de Withstraat in the heart of the bustling city, is a crossover art platform by architect Maurice Nio and Luca Rimatori. We were there to see Time to Kill Today, a dance performance based on the work of Italian artist Sebastiano Bottaro.
Half the floor of the dark, low basement was covered in sand and, as we became aware of the subtle soundscape by Itzik Vanunu, slowly, one by one, four girls entered the space and began to slowly roll around on the makeshift beach. Despite it being a rather chilly and not very sunny July there was very much a summer feel to the performance. The dancers were all dressed in variously coloured shorts and tee-shirts with Mr Bottaro, who watched from the back, himself wearing baggy white trousers and a bright Hawaiian shirt.
According to the artist, the performance focused on the idea of a repetitive gesture as a fetish form towards the medium in order to reveal the traces of movement of the Ego while transcending into its own empirical existence.
As the rolling around became more frenzied it almost became a competition to see which of performers could own the space, almost like a game of beach volley-ball without the ball or the net.
As the soundscape became more intensive, the mood changed. Each of the four dancers took one of the corners of the space and then slowly, obsessively began pushing and gathering the sand into a mound in the centre of the stage. Their actions were compulsive, zealous even, in the desire to build the hillock. Do you remember that bit in the 1977 Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the hero obsessively, without knowing why, builds a mound, first of mashed potato on his plate and then of earth, a miniature mountain in his living room? It was rather like that.
The dance whisperer was Ralitza Malehounova, the choreography was by Dario Tortorelli and the dance outfits were by Carlo Galli
Time to Kill Today was presented by Rome-based architect and facilitator Luca Rimatori in collaboration with Galerie Frank Taal and will be performed again in that space on 30th August. Michael Hasted 14th July 2019
Photo by Ylenia Ricci