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Kasteel Grassbroek  /

Looking for hidden meanings in the structure of Kasteel Grassbroek led us to the final possessions of Marie-Thérèse Françoise Barbou van Roosteren, an odd assortment of furniture, paperwork and machinery that have been put aside perhaps never to be seen again but deemed valuable enough to store. The castle itself was rescued from certain dilapidation by the intervention of Natuurmonumenten in 1987, but in being restored the sometimes untidy traces of living history were removed in the process of the necessary works.

When investigating social history it is inevitable that all trails lead to the attic. Whether tracing the trajectories of urban street cultures or bloodlines of nobility, at some point the researcher will end up behind the scenes of the everyday, in the hidden corners of life. The interest in these spaces comes from the possibility of finding another piece of the puzzle that tell the story of a life – a once treasured possession that had fallen out of vogue, a secret love letter, a scribbled confession.  Just as the exploration of the underground allows the playing out of fantasies of subversion in the urban space, the hidden spaces of domestic life promise the possibility of an alternative to the surface appearances of a personality.

Over time those spaces where we sweep the objects that become dust of daily life acquire the characteristics of an archive. They evolve into an accidental record of the financial, social, and emotional transactions that hint at the connections between the external appearances and the internal monologues of the human condition. However, unlike an official archive they’re disorganised and gloriously random places where different aspects of sometimes separate but intertwining lives are allowed to overlap with one another creating spaces for new interpretations (whether faithful to reality or not) are allowed to emerge.

The problem with official histories is that they gloss over their inevitable editing of a subject, the limited space and time afforded by exhibitions, publications and celebrations being crafted by agendas of power and progress that overlook the inevitable inconsistencies and contradictions of real-life. The beauty of the forgotten space is that it provides a sense of discovery, one that falls outside of the clinical need to create official narratives that can leave one feeling dictated to and uninspired. History, identity and place in this context become fixed rather than being living and dynamic expressions of a living, breathing city and with it lose the vitality that allows a city to own and create its imagined space.

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