Saskia Olde Wolbers is known for her short, narrative videos, filmed in model sets. For Yes, These Eyes are the Windows, she treats 87 Hackford Road as a ready-made set and works with theatre director Lu Kemp and sound designer Elena Peña to develop an audio installation inside the house. The house itself, a Georgian terraced house in Brixton where Vincent Van Gogh lived from 1873 to 1874, will recall overheard conversations and events that question the mythologizing of Van Gogh and the ensuing impact of his celebrity on the house’s owners.
The last residents of the house, which has stood vacant since 2012, moved there in 1950. In the 1970s, the area was considered for demolition by the council but a local postman asserted that the 19 year old gallery clerk Van Gogh had lodged in the house, an announcement which saved the residence from destruction. His claim prompted a media circus around the property and Olde Wolbers’ installation explores the reverberations of this revelations across the community. Her story emerges from a piecing together of information gleaned from local residents, council archives and tabloid headlines telling of Van Gogh’s apparent love affair with his landlady’s daughter.
Another response to the time Van Gogh spent at 87 Hackford Road, artist R.M Sanchez-Camus has worked with composer Isa Suarez and members of CoolTan Arts to develop a free, downloadable audio walk. Narrating an emotional journey based on both Van Gogh’s time at the house and the letters he wrote there, At the Crossroads with Vincent, A Van Gogh Walk looks at his struggles with epilepsy, bi-polar disorder, depression and self-identification. The walks looks at the turning points of mental health and how to put ourselves in the vulnerable position of using our imagination publicly.
Yes, these Eyes are the Windows and At the Crossroads with Vincent, a Van Gogh Walk are commissioned and produced by Artangel, with the kind permission of James Wang and Alice Childs. The walk will be available to download from the 29 May.
Yes These Eyes Are the Windows, until 22 June, 87 Hackford Road, London, SW9 0RE, www.artangel.org.uk/yestheseeyes.
1. Saskia Olde Wolbers, Yes, these Eyes are the Windows (2014)