The Visitor

Kunsthuis SYB, 2023

At Kunsthuis SYB (Beetsterzwaag, NL), Alban Karsten worked on his research The Fences of Beetsterzwaag. The premise of this project was to work with the oral histories of the village – such as regional stories, myths, village gossip, lies and very local chronicles. For Alban, the best way to enter the collective memory of the village is by joining local clubs. Thus, for the length of his residency, he became a temporary member of two Beetsterzwaagse choirs.

Through the choirs, he got to know many people, each with unique stories, who in turn referred him to other contacts. Before long, he was visiting villagers several days a week. During one of these visits, he heard the tale of the unusually high number of UFO sightings in this region (Opsterland, Friesland) in the mid-1970s. From then on, Alban began his quest for firsthand witnesses who were willing to collaborate with him on his film The Visitor.

That search brought him three protagonists with the most diverse, miraculous and also tragic experiences of decades ago. Meanwhile, the choirs became an increasingly essential part of his artistic process. They brought structure to his weeks through rehearsals and helped him rediscover singing as part of his artistic practice; as a performative tool and a method of connecting with a community. In addition to the three main characters, the choir mnnzngvrngng acts as the fourth character, as the fictional and directed element. They perform an early Swedish lament (Vem kan segla förutan vind?) to the vanished friend, partially translated into Frisian by two of her choir members.

Made possible with the support of:
Kunsthuis SYB

Many thanks to my collaborators:
Douwe van der Velde,
Sipke Visser,
Sjoukje van den Bossche.

With the help and advice of:
Jan Harmsma, Gepke Veenstra,
Steven Jouwersma, Michiel Teeuw,
Alexander Weeber, mnnzngvrngng