Mask of a woodcock
Visitors observing the performers
Mask of a great blue heron
Visitors observing the performance
Mask of a common blackbird
Performers putting on their masks
Cloud Cuckoo Land

Performance Installation, variable dimensions
Images taken at Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Amsterdam.

Cloud Cuckoo Land questions the dynamics within a group or family, focusing on notions of idleness, violence and territory. The installation comprises a greenroom in which six mime artists are idling time away. The room is furnished with a table and chairs, a couch and a filled refrigerator, providing the performers with the basic needs. Five realistic, human scale bird masks are placed on metal stand and arranged around the large table. They represent birds often seen in European cities like a blackbird, a seagull and a pigeon; avian protagonists of nature within the urban environment.

The audience witnesses the performers reading a book or a newspaper, eating a sandwich while sitting behind their laptop or talking to each other. A one-way mirror allows the audience to observe the performers, but preventing the mime artists from seeing them. This aspect is revealed by a second mirror in the back of the space. On the audience’s side of the separating wall, a poster displaying Mike Tyson is hung.

At a certain moment and without apparent reason, a conflict arises which leads the five performers to turn against one. The scapegoat leaves the room, joining the public. The other five get ready by putting on their masks. Armed with a wooden stick, they too leave the greenroom. What follows is a confrontation between the birds and their victim, which in turn confronts the audience with their ambiguous role of being both spectator and accomplice.