Bieler Tagblatt, 9 March 2002

video projects  

Sabine Mooibroek and Erwin Nyboer at the Von Rütte Estate

Seeking the Language of the Swiss Seeland

Sabine Mooibroek and Erwin Nyboer have been living in the ‘artist’s flat’ on the Von Rütte Estate in Sutz since beginning of the year. Today and tomorrow they are inviting visitors to view videos and photos under the title ‘Pourparlers’.

Written by Anneliese Zwez

‘Pourparlers’ (‘Talks’ in reference to the book 'Pourparlers 1972-1990' by Gilles Deleuze). The title of the inaugural event staged by the Swiss-Dutch video artist Sabine Mooibroek (35) and her Dutch partner Erwin Nyboer (37) in the Vitrée hall of the Von Rütte Estate in Sutz leads directly to the heart of what interests the two artists: Language and the way in which people talk to each other; who expresses themselves how, where and in what context.
Hence it was not so much the Swiss national exhibition Expo 02, but rather the position of the Swiss Seeland on the border of two language regions, which attracted the two artists. Normally resident in Amsterdam they spontaneously responded to the advert ‘artist’s flat to let’ placed by the Von Rütte Estate foundation in the December issue of the Kunst Bulletin. Because artists these days often have nomadic tendencies and let their art develop from a network of influences, the two decided after a first night in the Hotel Taubenlochschlucht (“Dove Hole Gorge Hotel, what a name – we simply had to go there!”) to spend a large part of 2002 in the Seeland. Photo and video camera, PC and TV monitor respectively, are their most important tools.

Connection with Switzerland
They are no strangers to Switzerland however. The house of Sabine Mooibroek’s maternal grandparents is in the Emmental, and it is there that a few years ago the short film ‘Hoe deze genodigden praten-Wie die Gescht redet’ (How the guests talk) was made. It won the ‘Best short film’ prize at the Swiss film festival Solothurner Filmtage. This evening and tomorrow evening the film opens the ‘Pourparlers’ programme. The video is ten minutes long and investigates how older Emmental men talk with each other. To find out, the two invited a group of mature yet energetic men into the grandmother’s house. Ingeniously choreographed the men were first asked to carry out gardening jobs, before being indulged by Erwin Nyboer with a ten-course meal. Working at the editing table Sabine Mooibroek listened with multilingual appreciation to the rugged Bernese words being spoken, then plucked them from their context and superimposed them onto the running film. Exquisitely one explains ‘tete a tete’ to another as ‘Gring a Gring’, while ‘Chuscht’ and ‘Häärd’ and ‘zääi’ and many other words separated out become onomatopoeia.

Personal angle
In addition to video, film and research there is also other work, such as ‘A bis Q – eine Welt voller Geheimnisse’ (‘A to Q – a world of secrets’) from the previous year. In the 32 minute video 70 people in Friesland are asked about the meaning of certain terms, without initially knowing that they all form part of the wording of the Dutch asylum law. The aim is not to test people’s knowledge but rather to examine their approach to interpreting words – abstract, personal, psychological, etc.

Two viewpoints
Sabine Mooibroek and Erwin Nyboer cooperate in many different ways. Their viewpoints however are not the same. While Sabine Mooibroek completed a course at the Swiss art academy Schule für Gestaltung Zürich and afterwards studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Erwin Nyboer studied subjects as diverse as interior architecture, museology, philosophy and aesthetics. In 1992/93 he was active as free curator at the Zurich art institution Shedhalle. His thinking is therefore informed more by theory and artistic context, but he emphasises that “the moment of choreography and production are also very important to me”. In 2001 the multilingual Nyboer gave lectures at the drama school of Amsterdam. As yet they have no concrete projects for their stay in the Seeland. Initially the focus will be on getting to know the romantic area around the lake, to gain insight into as many things as possible and especially to listen in on the language of the Seeland. That is the aim of their invitation….pour parler.

Sabine Mooibroek and Erwin Nyboer: the Swiss-Dutch artists couple wants to listen and watch how the Seeland people communicate with each other and transform the particularity into video images.
Photo: Patrick Weyeneth