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Alex Deforce: 'Life doesn’t have to get any more conceptual than this'

© Ivan Put
| Alex Deforce.

For three weeks, a Brussels creative shares their view of the world. ALEX DEFORCE is a painter, illustrator, radio host and poet who uses stage, paper, voicemail, Bandcamp, 7-inch, and soundwalk. @alexdeforce + alexdeforce.bandcamp.com

The sky could hardly be greyer above the beaches of Mol. A day earlier the beaches were filled with thousands of tourists. Now I count just about two bikinis in the distance. Two women knee-deep in water, umbrella over their heads, in the rain. The summer had already brought many confusing moments, so this was just one more. Here I was, DJing for two bikinis and some kids in the rain. As well as the streaming home crowd, of course. Life doesn't have to get any uncannier than that.

I was invited as part of an exhibition and residency on the theme of “Heimat” and that afternoon my music selection resounded through the speakers of the Zilvermeer Provincial Recreation Area. Starting with the uncanniness itself: De Haan's “Wie wraagt u”?

U bent verkeerd verbonden.
Wie wraagt u?
Hij is werkloos!


The song catapults me back to several months before. Unintentionally, it seems to be an ode, not to empty beaches, but to empty traditional estaminets, as I have had the privilege of experiencing them with fellow bar staff. Hanging out, groaning and great emotions on forbidden bar stools.

De Haan brings the poetry of foreign-language everyday life. Lo-fi psychedelic “kleinkunst” (for those in the mood for labels). Because his lyrics, in all their awkwardness and absurdity, seem to hit me harder and harder, I decide to ask for an explanation, in one of his favourite bars: Le Coq, at the same time his family name. Life doesn't have to get any more conceptual than that.

The texts appear to be Dadaist collages from Dutch courses and conversation guides for hotel reservations. Don't look for themes, the word is central, phonetics elevated to an art. The love of a foreign language carried to the bone. A method of safeguarding the music from the ego. Babylonian patchwriting with little room for an “I”.

The sky is clearing up. The French anti-careerist resists the emerging everything. Like the little station of the coastal village with the same name. Just as the entire town has resisted the encroachment of high-rise buildings.

But on a drizzly November day, almost all the shutters of the apartment on the dike are closed. “Fuck the sea view,” they seem to say. Brussels is far away, and yet I can hear someone screaming in the distance: “On peut déjà fumer à l'intérieur? A quelle heure est-ce qu'on ferme les rideaux ici?” Life doesn't have to get any more synchronic than that.

Goddank voor tafeltennis en Tesla's.

De Haan did not know that Mol also has beaches. I do. And I've seen table tennis and Tesla's, and two bikinis.

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