Site Specific installation for Artangel with Saskia Olde Wolbers
What traces of lives can a place contain? A blue plaque on the front of an innocuous terraced house in Brixton commemorates its past resident, a young man by the name of Vincent van Gogh, a tenant from 1873 until 1874.
Taking advantage of a postal strike in the 1970s, a local postman traced Van Gogh to this property, then occupied by a family. The ensuing plaque shielded not only the house but much of the surrounding area from demolition at the time, yet since 2012, the residents now departed, the house has stood empty. Every day people visit the street and can come no closer to the truth of time spent there by its most famous occupant than the front door.
In 2014 Saskia Olde Wolbers opened this door to the public and invited them in to experience what lay beyond. Frustrating the desire to uncover a history of one man's time in the house, the artist wove a fictional narrative from the accounts of oral histories, press archives and literary works, and presented visitors with one particular narrative that enabled the space to speak its past.
photo Saskia Olde Wolbers