cornershop of daydreams

Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt

The Cornershop of Daydreams acts as an agency that sets the scene for moments of collective dreaming. It is a contextual vehicle to explore how daydreaming can disrupt the reproduction of rigidity in daily life, and increase fantastical and speculative agencies. Through this fake agency we position ourselves as scenographers of cumulative deviance.

This exhibition consisted of three rooms that showcased work produced during a residency with DesignRegio Kortrijk and the city community. One room of new work translated a pop-up event originally hosted in the Monday market into interactive exhibits. The initial event was produced in collaboration with De Stuyverij, a community centre that fosters creative alliances.
One cold morning at the Monday market in Kortrijk, you come across a stand for the Cornershop of Daydreams. As you drink tea and chat, you notice that the platters of cake are mirrors of city you thought you knew. Somebody from the agency hands you a flyer, which you use to collect crumbs or dab the corners of your mouth while you gaze at cream and fondant and decode familiar facades amongst overzealous draftsmanship.

You are conferring on the lost speculative planning proposals for Kortrijk. You use the words vergeet, omverwerping, middag, bekentenis. The agency are taking notes, they are asking you: Which utopian proposals did you never get to realise in your life? Do they haunt or direct your daydreams still? What are its ingredients? What tools? What recipe for its construction?

We position ourselves as mediators of cumulative deviance. If daydreaming could be understood as an energy resource, something that we are all generating in isolation, what would happen if we could collectivise this resource, make it public and give it agency in the world? Could this potentiality become a critical mass, transformative, could it transgress the conditions of everyday life as they are?

Haunted places are the only ones people can live in- … [they] do not speak any more than they see ... Only hints of what is known but unrevealed are passed on “just between you and me.”

- Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

In this active installation, the cakes that were consumed at the market are crystallised, still iced with unrealised architectures from the city’s planning archives. The doll-house convention stand, frozen in time, but glistening with potential, suspends the audience in an uncanny reality. Daydream productions are ordered using bespoke carbon paper and collected on spikes. Meanwhile at the desk, flyers advertise strange events and cooperatives, from protests to heritage railway tours, that describe a social world fuelled by dreaming in alternatives.

Much like the daydreams that we deal in, we are both affected by and effective in the city. We find ourselves as the new shopkeepers of this establishment, discovering what it means to keep the shop, keep the street, tend to it, as custodians rather than a proprietors. The corner is a pivot that guides you on your way to a daily destination, a spot on the pavement to check the time, have a piss or ask directions. But take a moment out of the transitory and step inside the Cornershop and herein is a warmth of organisation, a nook where all is attended to, where there are still hand-written price stickers, dusty ledges, impassioned greetings.
Without anyone noticing, the Cornershop of Daydreams surfaced in the city of Kortrijk, slipped through the curtain and onto the stage at the junction between Budastraat and Kapucijnenstraat.

The Cornershop is an agency, an organisation lending out our skills, an agency, the active sense, in pursuit of agency, of autonomous actions. We make a context for the daydream to speak, using resources of memory and ongoing conversations. The Cornershop supplies the ingredients: a scenography of space, objects and invited agents.

This evocation of the daydream is intuitively rebellious, speculative and intimate, but also routine and disposable. We consider the daydream also as a kind of cognitive reproductive labour that de-sediments a crowded mental space. A design approach was conceived around a municipal image database as part of the conceptualisation of daydreaming as operating in a fragmentary landscape between fantasy and memory, which produced strange scenographies programmed onto the town that would herald emergent dreaming. We focused on pushing our concept of daydreaming beyond individualistic containers towards its collectivisation by establishing links with various community actors, groups and NGOs.

We act as other to the assumptions and forecasts of the city, we are scribbling in the margins metaphors discovered in a draft of Duvel. An important discovery is made: all can daydream. A person can daydream, so too a dog, a gaggle of geese, a housing estate, the weather.

Project in collaboration with Metincan Güzel and Yun-Chu Liang as the agency The Cornershop of Daydreams. For more info see the main website.

Including photographs by Kobe Vanderzande.