Joppe Venema at CLAPTRAP

Artist: Joppe Venema

Exhibition title: Feeble Core

Venue: CLAPTRAP, Antwerp, Belgium

Date: September 10 – 27, 2020

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and CLAPTRAP, Antwerp

On how my pool turned into a swamp or Experience regarding a sudden green invasion! Around the time that Joppe asked me to write this text for his exhibition, something peculiar happened: my pool turned into a swamp. I’m not saying that this is Joppe’s fault, as I don’t believe in fate, yet indeed it is a strange coincidence. Now when I go to the pool, instead of my swimsuit I put on a pair of rubber boots. Nevertheless I still refer to my pool as a pool for the same reason as you would continue referring to a false diamond as a diamond.

Toads and frogs wander around in search of their spawning grounds. The surface is no longer clear and blue but instead filled with duckweed, algae and water lilies. The grass grew tall and now reveals passages of animals, like deer, wild boar – and who knows what else – that were visiting the pool tank to drink at night. I’m barely exaggerating when I say that the water has the consistency of mustard. Birds such as geese, grebes, and coots gather in and around the water. They seem to enjoy my swimming pool! Soon I expect to see fish and perhaps some big amphibians… My job has changed from fishing for dead insects with a butterfly net adapted for pool cleaning, to being an unwanted guest, manned by swarms of pissed off horseflies standing guard. Not for no reason do swamps have a reputation for being hostile and therefore have been reclaimed and drained by humans since Roman times. Trying to comfort myself I think in time things tend to turn into swamps. After all, a swamp is not the worst thing that could have happened to me.

Surely, having lost the maintenance booklet may have contributed to the current state of the matter. Alas, the ongoing process seems to be irreversible. In search of advice on how to deal with it, I called up a technician who revealed the cause. Here comes another twist of fate no one expects – as I came to understand that the motor of the pump is driven by a Feeble Core. The Feeble Core is known to be “the mother nature of swimming pool-pump-processors” as it uses “the electroweak interaction, which is responsible for the decay of the atomic cores, thus causing a change in the flavours of the particles involved. The result is a perfect ecological equilibrium..” explains the voice on the other side of the phone. Only now I understand the pump’s soft humming is not a sign of pumping water through the filter, but rather calls in nature for maintenance. “No chemicals are needed” he said. It appears that the big chlorine tablets that I fed the pool were fake-swallowed by the skimmer and spat out. Initially advertised with the slogan “power to harmony”, this little and broad minded machine was soon replaced by a new technology, further in line with the ideology of the time. So ended the success of the Feeble Core. “… You, madam, … all you can do is feed the coots some old bread and try to cherish your companionship with swamps”.

– Giovanni Pietracaprina and Evi Olde Rikkert