Mandoe Sparks

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Metaphysical  thoughts from bathtub


Coffee-bean candle, little shot of grappa, piccolo espresso, pipe in the hot bath. Doesn’t sound like ideal setting for meditation. For me, however, a perfect relaxation.

Came back from festival in Denmark and started catching up with all the work I left behind. Dozens of e-mails, meeting people I was supposed to meet long ago, phone calls, composing, practicing the violin, writing articles and working hard on reconstruction of my new studio.A huge brick of 5kg dropped on my backhand from hight of 65cm and that was when I realized I need a little break.

Everything gets better if you only let it to. Videlicet – You don’t have to suffer if you don’t want to.

I had a little accident in Denmark where I hurt my right hand little finger. It’s been two weeks now and it still hurts. Luckily, I can play with that. When the brick dropped on my hand, I thought all the little bones were broken. Terrible pain! After 3 seconds I simply said to myself NO! I’m not going to let myself get crippled like this. Clasped my hand in firm fist, 3 seconds later the pain was gone. All that remains is a little scar hard to see. You don’t have to suffer if you really don’t want to!

Coffee-beans the candle consist of start to burn and I start thinking. Yes, I do thing sometimes. Looking in the flames reminds me of the happiest times in my life, when me and my father were sitting by the fireplace in El Paso – a huge, yet absolutely cosy log cabin my father has built with his own hands. My father was my best friend. Though he passed away four years ago, I still talk to him every day. And he does replay, giving me answers and advices.

Behind the scenes on Mandoe. What have you put in that coffee?

I enjoy looking at life as if I was watching a movie.

Boring situation: serious meeting of group of people trying to sort out every day’s schedule of festival. Artists, organisers, researchers all in one room, every morning during the festival. I’ll do that, you’ll do this, he’ll manage that, etc. Everyone serious, focussed. In the corner one of them holding cup of coffe. We all know he enjoyed the coffe very much, he said that before. But no one see what he’s doing now. Cup’s half empty and guy’s shaking his hand like crazy. I’m loosing my focus on conversation and can’t take my eyes off him. I ask my friend who made the coffee: “what the hell have you put in that coffe?” My friend looks at the guy with coffe and laughters. “Come on, give him another on!” I say. No one else noticed this comic situation. Later on, the guy told me he was just melting lump suger…


Can we eat now?

Another example of watching wrong movie.

Final reception. Artists and organizers meet locals and every one who helped. It’s an evening after another hectic day. Last supper. Plates on the tables, everyone hungry like a dog but before a nice speech has to be presented, thanks to be addressed, hands to be clapped. So we put the cutlery aside and listen. So much for initial titles and my movie can start. Slowly, as if by accident, one of the listeners drops his cutlery in the plate and, as if by accident, piece of beef got stuck on the fork. All right, once it’s there, why not to eat it. But slowly, silently, carefully! Oops, misbehaved potato leapt into nothing expecting mouth of another listener. My imaginary camera’s rolling and I’m loosing contact with serious part of the event again. One by one gradually start jingle with their forks and knives and in few minutes speaker can’t be heard over gormandizing crowd.

“Thank you for everything!” Clap, clap, clap.


Don’t you ever smoke that sh.. again!

On the way back home from Mandoe, somewhere in Germany, I was driving our van. Roughly 3 o’clock in the morning. Everyone in the car asleep. Highway’s lines shrunk in one each way for the road construction. Surprisingly, no car around. Neither behind me nor in the oposite way. And there, just behind the bridge, I see the car with all four indicators on. I’m doing hardly 80Km/h and slowing down. A man in long white cloak walks along the car. I’m slowing down even more to pass him carefully and then, a trick of the brain, there is no car, no man around… He was there a second ago and now he’s gone with no sign of the car either. I had to make stop on the very next parking. What the hell was that? One of the passengers in my van (guess who…) commented: “don’t you ever smoke that sh.. again!”

I’m getting pretty stoned by my pipe (with real tabaco) in my hot tup so I turned my jacuzzi on and to celebrate my new friendship with nice person from Paris, I use my French shaving soap to shave. Voilà.



sarah fitzsimons

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

A week later, some reflections

Mandø is a starkly beautiful place, with a harsh climate and swiftly changing weather.  As I experienced in living and working there for 10 days, you are constantly exposed to the wind, rain, sun, and sea.  It’s an isolated location, often completely cut off from the mainland by the tide with no ferry service, no airport, and no bridge.

At high water it’s too deep to drive, too shallow to sail.

If I lived here I would want a sturdy house, and indeed, when I look around, the houses are SOLID.  They hunker-down against the ground, and brace themselves in the wind.  On Mandø there seems to be a very clear distinction between indoors and outdoors.  When you’re inside, you definitely feel inside.  When you’re outside, you definitely feel outside.  No front porches, no gazebos, no rooftop terraces.  None of that Southern California indoor/outdoor blended architecture.  To live here, you need a strong, self-contained shelter.  Anything else would be impractical and ridiculous.

I carried my house to the island in a backpack. The first day I built it on a high dune overlooking the town and sea.  Each day it moved further downhill, and ended in the water.

What did this house offer?

not shelter,

not stability,

not privacy,

not safe storage,

not strength,

not warmth,

not permanence.

It was a structure with no roof, no walls, no floor — just the most minimal lines to define the space of a house within the greater expanse of the landscape and sea.  There were absolutely no barriers in this house–the wind blows, the birds fly, and the sea flows through.

For me, there’s value in this brief existence of the suggestion of a house.              (idea for a house, looking forward.  memory of a house, looking back.)

What did it provide?                                                                                              A space for reflection, inspiration, visual poetry, beauty…                                    Art offers a different type of value than keeping you dry in the rain, but it’s just as fundamental a shelter, just as necessary as having a roof over your head.

My thanks to the people of Mandø for your warm generosity, curiosity, and support.  You shared your island home with us for 10 days.  It’s been a challenge, an adventure, and my great pleasure to be a part of this project.









I thank

September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

At the first day in Mando, what fascinated me mostly was how much freedom does the earth here has. An independent ground, that exists by itself, for itself. It does not belong to anyone, and no man belongs to it. They live, side by side, humans, and this ground.

Coming from Palestine, where the ground belongs to everyone, all the time, where humans and ground are sucking each other’s bones, spilling each other’s blood, this was a refreshing view.

Still in my mind I had the memories from my last visit there – riding through the hills near Ramalla, I saw the desperate hills, lying harshly, with last powers on their dry, lifeless desert sands. It was a hard scene to see the earth giving up, exhausted when we are used to think that the earth never counts a things, that it is the strongest.,

And so, this place, this island of Mando, has given me back the belief that there is still more ground left untouched, far from men’s held, from its need of control, An earth and men living side by side. And I thank this island for this.

The sad violin, the fire, the darkness and the starless sky

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

By Morten Priesholm, guest

It is all over now. The wind has gone. The fire has burned out. The house has elapsed. The island is dressed in a grey and misty weather.

 I am driving my car alone on Låningsvejen, which at low tide connects Mandø to the mainland. In the CD player is the album African Marketplace. For some reason this jazzy, African music fits the present situation. Beneath Abdullah Ibrahims busy and playful melodies  is a sad and melancholic flow, which I can slide through – in the same way as my car slides through the quiet rain in the remote landscape between island and land.

 There has been a party on Mandø these days. All the new have created smiles and joy and surprise and laugh and cheerful togetherness. There has been bowling and giggling and laughing and singing, when artists and inhabitants met in the inn or in the café in Peter Withs house.

 But some how there has also been a grey tone from the events on Mandø. For me music, performances, installations, sculptures and all the rest came together in a silent poetry, a minor scale, a serious come together.

 I don’t know: Maybe Mandø inspires you to reflection and melancholy? Does the nature? Does the landscape? Or is it an autumn mood? A September colour?

 Last night a group of young girls sang the Danish song Mørk er november (Dark is November) at the bonfire on the beach on Mandø. The girls stayed the weekend over in a cottage, and by chance they arrived to the bonfire and the closing event at the beach.

 The tune for Mørk er november is moody but also has a dramatic, heroic touch. The text written by the Danish poet Thorkild Bjørnvig (1918-2004) is dark but also coloured with a strong hope. Last night Tomas Machs violin accompanied the song with a crispy and firm C-minor.

 The spontaneous song, the sad violin, the fire, the darkness, the starless night, the obscure sea. That is how Any Question? also was.


September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

By Liesbeth Takken. (Pictures by Haitske van Nus and Liesbeth Takken)

Today the television is coming. They interview Sarah and me. I want to complete the outher circle of the big sanddrawing before. Because of high tide  that was not possible until now. We’re lucky it’s low water at the moment.  I only have one hour to finish. Petr and Klaus are coming to help us fortunately. It’s hard working to dig in the wet sand. We draw and dig the fine circles also. It’s good working when you are with some more people! We follow  and photograph the work at changing  tide.

Today at 17.00 the earth and the moon are as closest as possible. It makes special forms in the sand, like claws. In the starconstellation lowe dominate: you can see it also these days in the sandforms the water has made. We photographed them every day.

The interview with the television was ok. But actually it’s complicated to express your specific ideas in another language. Good exercise. At half past seven it’s in the news on the national canal. Helen is cheering, we too. Wow!

Den triste violin, bålet, mørket og den stjerneløse nat

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Af Morten Priesholm, gæst

Det er slut nu.

Vinden har lagt sig. Bålet er gået ud. Huset er pakket sammen. Øen er badet i gråvejr.

Jeg kører alene over låningsvejen. I cd-spilleren sidder albummet African Marketplace. Af en eller anden grund passer denne jazzede, afrikanske musik til stemningen. Under Abdullah Ibrahims travle og legesyge toner ligger en sørgmodighed, en melankoli, som jeg kan glide igennem – ligesom min bil glider gennem en stille regn i det øde og vidtstrakte landskab herude i ingenmandsland mellem øen og landet.

 Det har været en fest på Mandø den sidste uge. Alt det fremmede har skabt smil og glæde og forundring og latter og muntert fællesskab. Der er blevet skålet og fniset og leet og sunget igennem, når kunstnere og gæster mødtes på kroen eller i cafeen i Peter Withs hus.

 Men på en eller anden måde har der også lydt en grå tone fra begivenhederne på Mandø. For mig at se har musik, installationer, performance, sandskulpturer og det hele ramt hinanden i en neddæmpet poesi, en moltone, et alvorligt fællesskab.

 Jeg ved ikke om, Mandø inspirerer til eftertænksomhed og melankoli? Gør naturen? Landskabet? Eller er det en efterårsstemning, der slår igennem? En septemberfarve?

 I går aftes istemte en flok unge piger spontant den danske højskolesang Mørk er november ved bålet, som var tændt på stranden nedenfor Redningstationen. Pigerne var sommerhusgæster, som tilfældigvis dukkede op ved bålet og afslutningsbegivenheden dér på stranden.

 Melodien til Mørk er november har en bluestone men også et dramatisk, heroisk strøg. Thorkild Bjørnvigs tekst er dyster, men også præget med et stærkt håb. I går aftes spillede Tomas Machs violin vedholdende sprøde C minor-toner til sangen.

 Den spontane sang, den triste violin, bålet, mørket, den stjerneløse nat, det dunkle hav. Sådan var Any question? også.

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

“.., My son came one day, and tole me I should have it, I should have one glass of wine every night. So I went to the doctor, a local doctor, and he wrote me that prescription. He allowed me one glass, and so I have one, every evening.

My son says it’s anti-depressing., but I don’t like this expression. Do you think I’m depressing? No., I have everything here – My books, the horizon, the wind. After that, we are all depressed, of course, it’s normal to be also depressing, you see what I mean?”,,