News - Stefaan van Biesen






[Interview] Dr Rhea Thönges & Martin Schmitz > Documenta 14 Kassel Germany > 10.09.2017.



About the relation between Lucius Burckhardt an Joseph Beuys. Documenta 14 Kassel Germany 10.09.2017.


the Milena principle made an interview about the relation between Joseph Beuys and Lucius Burckhardt. We had the chance to have a long talk with two icons: Dr Rhea Thönges (a dear friend of Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) and working partner) and Martin Schmitz (*1956, student of Lucius Burckhardt [1925-2003]). They both are publishing books about Spaziergangwissenschaft and joseph Beuys. Photo's by Annemie Mestdagh. Video and photo's by Stefaan van Biesen / the Milena principle.


Dr. Rhea Thönges-Stringaris [*1934] studied art history and archeology in Bonn and Munich. Until 1974, museum activities in the State Art Collections in Kassel. Since 1972, friendship and cooperation with Joseph Beuys. 1977 Establishment of the FIU - Branch office in Kassel. 1979 Founding Member of the 'Green'. 1980-1987 Member of the Documenta's Supervisory Board. 1982 Participation in Action: '7000 Oaks'. 1989 Establishment of the FIU-research firm. Lives in Kassel Germany and Athens Greece. Numerous lectures and publications on Joseph Beuys



Martin Schmitz [*1956] was born in Hamm, Westphalia. After graduation in 1976 to study at the Department followed architecture, urban planning and landscape planning at the University of Kassel with Lucius Burckhardt, from which he graduated with a thesis on the outpatient food in town and in 1983 as a book (with Birgit Knop) Currywurst with chips - About Culture of the snack bar. In the 1980s, he was a correspondent for the magazine 'Werk, Bauen + Wohnen' and wrote beside numerous articles in various magazines for the German Bauzeitung a special issue about the Swiss architect Christian Hunziker. In parallel, he followed in Berlin the work of Wolfgang Müller and The Deadly Doris from among the genius dilettantes and in 1987 was curator of the film program at Documenta 8 d Super-8, which was based on the artistic work with the amateur film format.


In 1989 he founded the Martin Schmitz Verlag in Kassel together with a gallery. With the move to Berlin, the exhibition was discontinued in 1999. There were projects 'mit Kunst am/im Bau', an invitation as curator of the conference 'Dilettantismus', which was held in Görlitz in 1995, teaching in Saarbruecken, Weimar, Kassel and Dresden. With the exhibition Die Tödliche Doris - Kunst, the work began in 1999 in Berlin, which followed the project 'Die Tödliche Doris - Kino' in 2003 and was shown internationally. After the death of Lucius Burckhardt in 2003, he began by compiling his entire bibliography [2006-2007]. He started to teach walk science at the university in Kassel. Curator of the third symposium documenta urbana Art plans to planning in 2007 in Kassel, the meeting 'Die Spaziergangswissenschaft: Sehen, erkennen und planen 2008' in Frankfurt am Main and the first Lucius Burckhardt Convention 2014 in Kassel 2008.






[Platforms Projects] Independed Art Fair Athens Greece. 17.05>20.05. 2018. The team: Artemis Potamianou [Tate London - MOMA NY curator], Michalis Argyrou [co-director], Yorgos Taxiarchopoulos [Chief research & development].


Curator Artemis Potamianou (MOMA NY & Tate London), who is currently based in Athens, considers the Milena principle as one of the 49 most important independent art platforms from all over the world, distinguishing themselves by working on unconventional ways and by establishing unexpected and influential debates on art. Based on the “unity is strength” principle, the platforms have secured their own place on the international art arena without antagonizing the environment they are called upon to serve.


Curator Artemis Potamianou and the selection committee of Art Athina Platforms project 2015 selected the Milena principle as one of the 40 representative art platforms worldwide to showcase their work and collaborations in Lisbon and Athens.

the Milena principle presents together with befriended collectives and organisations in Lisbon and Athens a collaborative sound-and visual installation, demonstrating the effect towards other cities, through a network of artistic interventions with remote users from other cities. The juxtaposition of artistic interventions and experiences of different urban environments suggesting the acknowledgement of coherence emphasized in the practices of everyday life-urban rituals, rather than the contrast implied by the geographical and cultural differences.







[Made of Walking / Table of Walking] walking artists La Romieu France:

27.08.2017 > 01.09 2017.


Read the full programme of Made of Walking La Romieu France - English version [see pdf file].



Table of walking is  project initiated by the Milena principle (B). Within this pilot year there was as well a Summer School of Walking in Delphi (GR) in the format of a forum with a series of walks and walking workshops,  focussing on dialogues between performance, arts, literature and new media, inviting artists, writers, walkers, performers, musicians and composers, sound designers, new media artist, developers, teachers, researchers, experts and scientists of different fields, to share their experiences and to explore together topics related to walking practices. The event was attended by 100 participants with 25 walking artists and experts from the US, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Egypt,  Israel, India/France/UK, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, Cyprus and Greece.


Read the full program of Made Of Walking Delphi Greece 2017. >> download pdf.


The forum in La Romieu is co-curated by Isabelle Clermont, Gilles Malatray (Desartssonnants, Lyon) and Geert Vermeire (coordinator the Milena principle / Urban Emptiness Network) in dialogue with Robin Decourcy (TrekDance) and Andrew Stuck (Museum of Walking / Walking Artist Network UK). The forum is hosted by the artistic organisation Le Bouc qui Zouke the municipality of La Romieu. It intends to stimulate a meeting between researchers and artists related to walking. CRESSON Grenoble is approached as an academical partner.


Proposed theme: 'Sometimes we walk on the ground, sometimes on sidewalks or asphalt, or other surfaces. Can we find ground to walk on and can we listen for the sound or sounds of ground? Are we losing ground? Can we find new ground by listening for it?' Pauline Oliveros, October 22, 2016.




[Listening: On The Architecture of Aging]. performance during Made of walking La Romieu 28.08.2017.


ARTIFACTS : Pam Patterson & Leena Raudvee [CAN].

Registration and video by Stefaan van Biesen/the Milena principle.






[Utopia, just around the corner?] Urban Emptiness Neme Art Centre Limassol Cyprus February 2017.



This exhibition is based on the 'Utopia, just around the corner?' December 2016 in Braga Portugal by Geert Vermeire, Annemie Mestdagh and Stefaan van Biesen.


Installation in the Art Centre. Outdoors performance by Marielys Lely Burgos [NY-Porto Rico] based on 2 sound compositions 'Inhale The City' by Stefaan van Biesen specialy for this event [24:17].


A performance at the opening of the Urban Emptiness exhibition in Limassol, Cyprus. February 4 at 8.30 pm in Neme Arts Center. This opening will be preceded by a seminar at the nearby University of Limassol about media, silence, walking/movement in urban space in relation to UE, between 5.30 pm and 8 pm. Geert Vermeire will moderate a conversation/presentation. A talk about your experiences within Urban Emptiness 2016 and possible future approaches.


[Utopia, just around the corner?] Limassol and Nicosia Cyprus 2017 [download pdf file].




[Fly Ways] registrations of insect flights 1994-2015






Urban Emptiness


The project suggests an interdisciplinary investigation of emptiness and silence in three contemporary cities: Athens, Edinburgh and Brussels. The aim is to highlight the importance of real and imaginary/hidden landscapes in the urban environment and explore different conditions of intimacy in their understanding. Through three main actions that involve different methodological strategies (workshops, performative projects, open discussions and exhibitions), the project intends to contribute to the discourse about the social, educational, financial, ecological and cultural value of an experiential/performative understanding of silence and emptiness in urban life. Acknowledging the significance of the contribution of diverse groups of people in its results, this pilot study invites university students and local citizens in its actions.







A performance based on a tea ritual. Conversations, soundscapes, smell, gestures are part of an alternating talk and performance focusing on the relation between water, writing and the city during an ad hoc temporary exhibition as a flow of drawings, prints, sounds and videos. We redefine the tea ritual as a literary and artistical meeting place inspired by Venice and the (wordless) conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in the novel Invisible Cities of Calvino. Moments of keeping silence interchange with conversations, intertwined with ideas about society and liquid cities, and the sharing about the taste of tea and other facets of tasting and sensorial experience. The body and senses becomes an instrument of knowledge and of communication between people and cities.




[ Water Carrier III & VI ] For I am water. Digital print size: 3 meters long.

The tea ceremony is multidisciplinary. Conversations, sound, soundscapes, smell, gestures are integrated. Parallel events are a series of performances and talks based on the topic and an exhibition with a flux of drawings, prints and the video-performances 'We wish we were like water' (Braga, Museu Biscainhos 2010), 'Writing in water' (Venice Biennale 2007 & 2015) and 'Liquid islands' (Venice Biennale 2011) next to the video-poems “Antarctica” (Brasilia, 1a Feira Intercional do Livro / Museu Nacional) connected to the installation “Spirals / Mater” including a public performance. Production: the Milena principle.



[Traces of Rain] a current and ongoing project in Europe.



[Traces of Rain] is a project for the 'Water Carrier' event. Almost every day rain is captured on a drawing sheet and collected as an urban ritual. A sequence of rainwater of several places and conditions, on places the artist is visiting. Name and place of the spot, where the rain is captured, is mentioned on the paper. The whole series is shown during the event. A vaporated trace of memory of rainy days, somewhere in Europe.




[Chlorophilia - Inner Fluids] [Biodiversity]



Chlorophilia (Greek: ‘chloros’ pale green + ‘philia’ love), was introduced in 2004 by the journalist Bob Hoss (Cholorophilia - Exploratorium). He referred to a remarkable phenomenon: the physical and sexual attraction that scientists believe to feel for the natural world, specifically for plants and trees. He described it as a form of 'being in love' that expressed itself in, among other things, embracing and hugging trees and in an extreme interest in gardening. An ambivalent emotional attitude that was at odds with the objectivity in research, the rationality that you would expect from scientists.

Hoss made ​​the analysis that the phenomenon Chlorophilia was a passionate force that drove people to see their admiration and attraction as an impulse that leads to change and respect. The increasingly blurred line between culture and the natural world served as a forum to explore how aesthetics and morality were closely related to each other. 'Chlorophilia' became a common denominator for the work of breeders, (ecological) garden communities and researchers, both by artists and experts in a tradition as old as human culture.

In recent decades the dialogue between art and science has become visible again through a social, societal and environmental undercurrent. It has become an exciting encounter between reason and intuition, body and spirit, culture and nature. A cherished utopy of opposites that are not entirely irreconcilable in my world.

Respect for our natural world, wonder as an instrument to a creative process in everyday life, are ingredients for biodiversity in all its aspects. To see ourselves less as consumers, but rather as global citizens. Ecology as a synonym for "caring", a social engagement, a transnational attitude with a compelling question, not in isolation, but standing in the world. Life and art as a silent, tender gesture that doesn't occur unnoticed.

Every action has a meaning for someone, or the 'other'. Deep inside, we do not escape the sprouting, boundless wisdom of biodiversity in which everyone and everything is interconnected. That "even the flight of a butterfly has an effect on the entire planet".

Stefaan van Biesen 2014.







©stefaan van biesen-annemie mestdagh 22.09.2018