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Introduction (EN)

Friday September 14 2007


Written by Hans Aarsman

Introduction for the book Theory of the Street, published by NAi Publishers 2007


Let's forget Paulien Oltheten for a moment.

Let's jump in feet first and see where it takes us, because ultimately that's what Paulien does, too.

Should I simply tell you what makes me check my stride? It should be possible 

to say something meaningful about that after years of strolling around.

It isn't life. If that were the case then I wouldn't need to take a single step.

It's life seen through eyes of wonderment.

The state of awe that is inquisitive and impulsive and curious all rolled 

into one.

The state of awe that involves nothing more strategic than happening to walk by and momentarily not being able to believe your eyes.

Nothing more than following your nose, staying alert, keeping up a hearty pace, not being a loner.

Run the risk that you're pursuing something that might eventually, sometimes even years later, turn out to be a dead end.

It's tricky. It takes pluck. Doubts assail you.

But what does it matter? Even if it turns out not to be art, even if it is nothing, even if it is fruitless, even if it turns out to be true art. Who cares?

Not the awe

No! Not that words again.

Let's approach it from a different angle, from the place we think the god reside, the fountainhead of everything. Wherever people gather, in every corporation and every club there are always people who float to the surface who have bigger mouth than others, people who rule the roost. That's how it must have been at the times of the Creation, we think. Someone has to pull tose strings, and determine the course of our lives.

There's no helping it, our brains are to small to think any different.

But we can certainly look, scratch the back of our heads, fall in love.

Doesn't life reward us royally?Isn't  fortune merciful and forgiving? Isn't every moment a shooting star, a glimmer you glimpsed just before it faded.

Why would you look for an ulterior motive?

Why would you conceive of life from a divine perspective?

Because you're filled with doubts.

Am I going about things the right way?

can I keep playing around like this?

I've already got so many bruises.

Can I just accept them for what they are?

Yes, it's possible to live with those frayed edges, all those scars.

Perfection is for outsiders.

Perfection is false pride.

Perfection is for gods.

But how do you turn the spotlight on what you've discovered?

Doesn't it have to be finished to perfection?

Life is never perfect.

Nor is Paulien Oltheten's work ever finished.

She observes how people walk on the street, how they stand, sit, carry themselves, slouch, lean and grip. her work is investigative. She jots down notes, takes photo's, make measurements. At home she conducts experiments into slouching, standing, lying down, gripping and holding. In her work, life is stronger then any form. It is brimming over with chance, wonder, loose ends, a glimpse, forgiveness, impulsiveness, curiosity.

That's what I see when I see Paulien Oltheten's work.

What a joy.

I just had to take a little detour to get there.