|A text for Ritsaert|
How other, than with great humility, may I give testimony to what it is to be your student. What it is to be learning in your presence, and in the presence of your passing.
There is no beginning and there is no end. Just the time of you being here and celebrating what you loved about this life.
Once upon a time, I received a seemingly innocent phone call. You were asking me, if I wanna help you. To clear up an archive, to assist with a work, and finally: to built a school together. No details, no deals, just a cheerful proposal and a sense of urgency, that turned my world upside down.
Imagine: the end of policy - when you made things happen, without waiting for official approval;
the end of negotiation - when you created a loving home for DasArts, before anything else was settled;
and the end of judgement - when you spoiled us with your generosity and your infinite confidence.
Making school seemed to be your natural, everyday business and our project yet another expression of your curiosity and your desire to provide an opportunity for artists, anywhere, anytime; without owning them and without conditions. Except - these basic questions that bothered you constantly. ‘Why this’, for example, ‘why here, why now, and for whom’.
Ritsaert. You were impossible in your demands. But I have never been in a place again, where loyalty and commitment were rewarded with more inspiration - beyond education, beyond theatre, beyond what it is, to be here and to be now.
And mind you; when we got tired and confused, it was your great gift to always, always ensure us, that everything is gonna be all right. And so it is.
Only days ago, you offered me - with that naughty smile - a private summary of what matters:
Take care of yourself
Make every effort to find your limits
And if you are not having fun - shift position
Because they, are not having fun
They are wasting their time. (Zij dweilen met de kraan open)
And here is your phone call again, on Sunday afternoon, while my fellows are celebrating the start of the cultural season. Straight forward this time, without warning: if I would be willing to speak today. There was no chance to learn dear Ritsaert. Only to realize that you had embraced the cruel challenge to let go, and that you were ready to look right into the face of the end.
We were blessed to be allowed these past months, weeks and days to carry you and Colleen on golden hands. But you also made it pretty impossible to say goodbye.
You had managed to keep us more and more busy, with a long farewell ritual at Touch Time, sorting out and packing and passing on many of your works, books or furniture to those that make new beginnings. And in every moment of being together, you were pushing our conversation out of the past, into the present and than: into that, which does not exist, what could be.
In Amsterdam, Groningen, Dordrecht, Antwerp, Brussels, Berlin, Streckenthin, Capetown or in Donderen of all places in the world.
In an early text for DasArts, you quoted Reza Abdoh, whom you admired, for he refused sentimentality and happy endings, for he was more interested in ruins, than in monuments:
"I am in a beautiful garden. As I reach out to touch the flowers they wither under my hands. A nightmare feeling of desolation comes over me, as a great dragon-shaped cloud darkens the earth. A few may get through the gate in time. Remember. Remember. We are bound to the past, as we cling to the memory of the ruined city."
My teacher, my friend has gone. He leaves us with a warm embrace and endless possibilities.
11 September 2008