“I am Rope. I am a rope. I am 65 meters long and 30 cm thick. I weigh 196 kg. It would take eleven people to carry me.
I am made from 2.3 kilometers of polypropylene ribbon braided around a foam core.
I was born in April, 2017. A team of five hand-braided me in thirty-eight days. I think it was somewhere in Leuven, Belgium. It is a confusing experience, being braided.
They made me absurdly big, bigger than all the other ropes. I just don’t know what to do with myself. I am traveling to find function and meaning again and to reshape myself.
You may use me for anything. You can create a wall with me. A pavilion. A museum. A giant shadow. You can use me to upset people or to create bewilderment. You can sit and relax on me, play an XXL game of tug-of-war, or take me on the train to a distant city and back.
Do something with me.
Open design instrument.
Rope is on a journey. Wandering around without a predefined plan, arriving unattended in various places. Although always and everywhere unadapted, Rope has an immense capacity to adapt itself: it is radically open and reactive. Like a 65 meter long open nerve, it feels, absorbs and responds to the reality it encounters. The local atmosphere, the specificity of the architecture, encounters between people, a ripple of wind, …
Location – art
Ief Spincemaille accompanies this giant nerve on its voyage. Being alert for the energy that arises between Rope and the reality it encounters, Spincemaille improvises whit the habitants what can be done with Rope. Rope is and open-design instrument with which a (political, architectural, economical, artistic, …) creation can be made in-situ.
ROPE seeks interactions with other people and places with their own (political, ecological, social, economical, … ) values, dreams and purposes. ROPE is an uninterested outsider who is not limited by existing protocols. ROPE enters other arenas with the will to discover and generate change.
ROPE avoids the romantic nostalgia and longings to inclusion and equality. Rope does not want to create a new ‘Harmonistan’. Antagonism, failure and a resistance to connect during an interaction, are an essential part of this project. ROPE interacts, but will not always connect.
ROPE is attempt to create an artistic practice that deals with more than solely esthetic questions and values. I call this a multi-valued approach. A practice which links individual expression to a broader (social/economical/ ecological/scientific/…) relevance and interest. ROPE expresses a desire and a craving for what is different than my own practice. An inheritance from an avant-garde dream to reconcile art and life.
Rope was hand-braided by a team of five prisoners in Leuven Central Prison, Belgium. Spincemaille created a braiding machine that allowed the prisoners to brace the rope simply. Due to their permanent presence in the process, they became experts in the braiding of this structure. Their skills and knowledge were documented and made transferable.
Ief Spincemaille’s (1976° Belgium) artistic journey crosses visual arts, design and performance and a diverse range of working contexts. He works in bicycle factories, prisons, residential complexes, … Exploring the boundaries of his field of work (that of the arts), he plays whit it’s existing frameworks and shapes. Not just out of joy of playing a formalistic game, but from an necessity for new forms that better respond to his imagination.
His projects always arise from a childish wonder for simple phenomena. Things that are so close and familiar that they remain invisible: Earth’s curvature, the presence of sunlight, our farthest neighbor on the other side of the world, shortening and lengthening of the days, the immense versatility of a simple rope.
Spincemaille succeeds in combining wonder and poetry with a strongly committed and social and political practice. Doing so he continues an avant-garde tradition, an immanent criticism of the cultural institute and a search for closing the gap between art and life, and translates this tradition to a radical new contemporary form. By using an artist-decentered method, a multi-valued approach and working in a radical way in-situ, he explores the limits of one of the most challenging values of modern art: autonomy.
Rope is a metaphor for this journey. Rope is a rope, but actually it’s too big to be a rope. Rope travels around to find meaning and function again. “They made me absurdly big, bigger than all the other ropes. I just do not know what to do with myself. I am traveling to reshape myself.” Spincemaille travels to unknown terrain with an absurdly large design object, looking for new ways of making and showing, looking for what it means to create. Rope is a search for new futures, and this with one of the oldest objects that exist: a rope.
Concept and realization – Ief Spincemaille
Technical assistant – Bout De Beul
Braided by the detainees in the Central Prison of Leuven, Belgium. Thanks to Cellmade.
Textile research: Leila Boukhalfa en Jan Duerinck
Graphic design flyer: Eva Moullaert, with many thanks to Guido Devadder.
Translators: Ire Tsui (Chinese), Corinne Pelzl (English), Ibrahim Khlel and Maysaa Aljanabe (Arabic).
GPS tracker programming: Maarten Lambrechts.
Programming visualization tool for braid patterns: Jan Pillaert.
Rope was funded by the Flemish authorities, Werktank (Belgium) and N.O.W.
Rope was commissioned by N.O.W [New Open Working Process for the Performing Arts] with the support of extrapole, Fabbrica Europa, Indisciplinarte, Latitudes Contemporaines, Lókal, Mom/El Vivero, Trafó, wpZimmer – Co-funded by the Creative European Program of the European Union.