Shoe Flowers was an exhibition made at the end of my 3 week residency at Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen, Norway, in 2020.
Shoe Flowers is an exhibition of stories and prints that reflect on my previous life in Bergen, where I was an exchange student at the local art academy in 2007. At that time I was getting very much into Taoism, Buddhism and other Eastern Philosophies, which in one way or the other, have been an important part of my practice since.
Returning to Bergen for the first time since 2007, meant a confrontation with the person I was then. The texts, that I wrote during my stay, and the prints that were produced at the local riso studio Pamflett, are a playful reflection on the daily life of that buddhist-me in 2007 — pondering about what shoes to wear, the deserted cabins in the mountains, or the food in the community kitchen — as seen through the eyes of the buddhist-me from 2020. A buddhist-me, who – buddhistically speaking – has likely grown a little more stupid since, and as such, let’s at least hope, a little wiser.
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At the community kitchen the monks use left-over food from the local restaurants to cook dinner for the people. The Buddha sometimes goes there. The Buddha is poor and the food at the community kitchen is for free. The food doesn’t taste very good though. The food tastes, to use a very earthly expression, like shit.
The food tastes as if you would throw together all the left-over food from all the restaurants in town and stir it up and heat it up in one big pot. Imagine, Italian pizzas topped with Thai spring rolls and drowned in Norwegian mashed potatoes. The Buddha is all for diversity, but he is not sure if everything should be thrown together on one big heap. It’s like mixing all colours of the world, and what you get is not more colours or brighter colours, but plain shit. Or in this case, food at the community kitchen. But the shit is for free. And edible. And besides that, the Buddha is a man of little means.
A lack of money is not the only reason why the Buddha goes to the community kitchen though. The other reason is, the buddha does not like to throw away food, and prefers re-appropriating other people’s garbage, so to say. It’s as close as cooking can come to reincarnation.
The Buddha is grateful. He takes a tablet. He gets a plate and some cutlery and waits in line like all other hungry souls and patiently waits to see what type of shit will be scooped onto his plate. The food always tastes the same. But if the Buddha switches on his Buddha powers, he can always trace back the ingredients to their origins. When the Buddha tastes the faint flavour of parmigiana in his stew he takes his bowl in his hands, gently raises it in front of his face, bows his head to the heavens, and thanks the lord for pizza.