Verdoncks continuous movement towards an ‘outside’, to what lies outside of art, outside the theatre, in the city, in the world, and back again, is playfully summarized in his Handvest voor een actieve medewerking van de podiumkunsten aan een transitie naar rechtvaardige duurzaamheid (Manifesto for an active collaboration on the transition towards fair sustainability by the performing arts) (2011). This manifesto goads the arts sector into taking action for a sustainable life while the reactions to his manifesto, in turn, lead to a new art project.


manifesto for the active participation of the performing arts sector
in the transition towards a fair sustainabibility

to all employees of a performing arts organisation
receiving support under the arts decree
and by extension to all who wish to respond to this appeal

I’m asking you to help me create a work of art

the work of art consists of
adhering within a certain period
and to the best of one’s ability
to the following rules

the rules concern the actions of participants
in their capacity as employees of a performing arts organisation
and are in no way compulsory
as to the actions of participants outside of this capacity

the creation of the work of art begins on September 1st, 2013
at the start of the new theatre season
and ends on February 7th, 2014
160 and a half days later
in the middle of the same theatre season

after completion of the work of art
all commitments entered into during its creation become void

at the start of the work of art all eco teams of the participating performing arts organisations
are dissolved
then people are invited
to meditate on the causes of the ecological crisis
by means of a letter
sent by the united nations to the artists gilbert and george
on the opening of their exhibition the naked shit pictures
to inform them that excrement from the west
still contains sufficient salts and minerals
to keep alive for four days
a third world child

at the start of the work of art
thursday as veggie day
is rescinded
that day is served a choice of
steak and french fries or lemon sole with pommes dauphine

the participating organisations are then asked not to serve
any meat or fish dishes
in their staff canteen on the other days of the week
any employee having a meal out of the office while on the job
will also abstain from consuming any meat or fish, except on thursdays

after the start of the work of art
all promotion material deemed necessary
for productions premiering within the stated period
will be printed in black letters on unbleached recycled paper
the share of the communication budget saved this way
will be used collectively at the end of the stated period
to rent one or more billboards
on which will be written on a white background
in upside-down black letters:
we agreed on everything

at the start of the work of art
participants will be asked
to use public transport and/or a bicycle
to travel to and from work
participants needing to work
after public transport has stopped running
will be offered a place to spend the night
any participant may invoke up to three times family circumstances
in order to return home using a taxi service

at the start of the work of art
participants will be asked
to create dance or theatre pieces
without a set
with a set
but one built of materials
already in possession of the organisation
before it agreed to participate in the work of art

specifically for travelling performances
the following rule applies
the set
(with the exception of the equipment present at the host theatre)
should be of a size
allowing the cast and technicians
to carry its parts safely and comfortably
while travelling
the amount saved on the set budget
should be used towards employing additional performance artists

at the start of the work of art
participants undertake
not to travel by air
nor to receive
any company using air travel
no exceptions to this rule are possible
unless the participating organisation contends
that an international tour is essential
to financially ensure
its continued existence
participant is in possession of a ring
they twist around their finger
making them invisible
while flying
and doing this
twice on a european flight
once on a transatlantic flight
whereupon the advantaged participant
undertakes to
howl like a dog
every night
for a month
up to three times a night

imagine what would happen
if the entire performing arts sector
participated conscientiously and assiduously
for 160 and a half days
in this work of art

what a cathedral of skeins of dissonance and dialectics
what an epiphany of possibilities
fundamentals games joy and symbolic capital
this would generate
for our future artistic practice
remembering cocteau
when asked
what he would take with him if his house was on fire
the fire