Ostend_Day 1_The beach

In the distance I saw the sea for the very first time. They had put me two meters past the strandline. According to the calculations, the sea would reach me at precisely 12:34. I couldn’t wait to feel the water on me, but I had to wait, and could only watch as the sea came closer very slowly. I tried to think, as hard as I could: ‘put me closer, NOW’, hoping that my thoughts would become visible and float in big letters above me. But no one reacted. Maybe I shouldn’t have been thinking the ‘NOW’ the way I did, because people might find that too compulsive for a rope. Anyway, I was still, like always, completely stuck within myself, completely motionless. Like a thing. Like a rope.

About twenty children had set up their camping place for the day around me. They heard me. They heard how impatient I was, and they tried to bring the sea closer to me with buckets and little canals. I know now that, if I think very loudly, some kids can actually hear me. At 12:15 it happened. The first wave flowed right under me.

Everything went quiet. I heard two words. Again and again. The same words. The sea, it appeared, talks in one continuous stream and keeps repeating the same two words. Which are either ‘here’ and ‘there’ or ‘to’ and ‘fro’. It’s impossible to tell. And the closer she flowed, the more voices I could hear.

When I was all dried up, the camping place kids carried me to a wide pathway between the cabins. It looked as if I had arrived at a village square. Everyone was looking at me, everyone seemed to know each other and most of them had owned the same cabin for over twenty years now. It was a cabin neighbourhood with cabin neighbours, sand streets and a sand square. Pierre introduced us, and sent me to Willy, who had a very special cabin, and Ief had to take pictures with this one and that one and with me. Almost everyone came from Ostend and according to Pierre, you could recognize foreigners by their white skins. Pierre examined me very closely, so closely I could see my own reflection in his pair of glasses. I have a blue skin. Where do I come from?


Ostend_Day 2_Saint Catharina square

Today I functioned as a temporary social space on the Saint-Catharina Square. They put me in a spiral and throughout the day I slowly transformed as various conversations and games took place on top of me.

A group of kids was jumping, hanging, and playing on me the entire day. Mike introduced me to a lot of people, and he said that this Saturday, along with Ronny twenty others, they would carry me to the Hema and lots of other stores.

Fabrice will come over tomorrow to take pictures, and tomorrow I’m going with Anthony to the Friday Prayer.


Ostend_Day 3_The Mosque

Ief: I’m sorry Rope. You would have loved it. It was huge.

Rope: It’s fine. It was too busy. There were too many people at the Friday Prayer. I couldn’t fit in.

A bit before two in the afternoon I was brought by the people from the square to the Mosque and put in front of the door, so I could get a glimpse from inside the Mosque. I couldn’t actually go inside; there were too many people and a rope of 60 meters just didn’t quite fit. Ief did go to the ceremony. Afterwards the people coming of the mosque brought me back to the square. That happened so naturally. It is unbelievable how something like this can just naturally happen again and again. A number of people lift you up, and suddenly you’re being carried by twenty people.

The kids were happy to see me again. As promised, Fabrice brought a camera and took some pictures. The kids played and played. At 19:30 we had to leave. I said goodbye to the kids I might never get to see again. They didn’t want me to go. I was sad. I though as loudly as I could: ‘you guys are GREAT’. I’m sure they noticed.
At 8 pm we met up with Anthony at the mosque to take a picture inside the empty mosque after all. Ief and Senne had to take off their shoes. Slowly they dragged me inside. We were all alone. It was an enormous space with a thick red carpet with the same patterns everywhere. They laid me in a perfect circle, as they would have done during the prayer. I imagined that on each square on the carpet, there was standing one man. There are 512 squares so that would have been 512 men. It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course. It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.It is amazing to lay in a perfect circle. Not that you would know that, of course.


Ostend_Day 4_The harbor

I could feel the collective sorrow of this place: the Oosteroever. Gradually the old fishing port has to make place for luxury apartments, the ‘Coucke torens’, they call it here. Willy, a ship owner, gave us a tour. He took us to the Marie’s café, Café Végé, which is closing its doors after 58 years. The property is being demolished, along with all the fishermen’s stories that lie within those walls. We drank beer and coffee there, with Krul, Willy, Maurice, and Marie. Willy buys old boats to protect them from being demolished. Because they are beautiful and valuable and part of the heritage of this place. Willy fights for a dying world. For this dying world.

Two houses down the street there was ‘het Compas’, a shop that sells ropes and boat attributes. Het Compas will disappear in 2020. ‘I have another space here at the back’, said the shop lady. ‘The stockroom, maybe this is interesting, we stock all our ropes there, all on a roll, in all colours and sizes.’ All together there was 14,478 meters of rope. Ropes immediately know from one another how long they are. It was a wild reunion. Everything was said there! Little ropes talk non-stop, just like the sea, but they never say the same word twice. They talk until all words have been used, and then, after a long sigh, they start over. As if they talk through their whole length. ‘You’re leaving!’ I screamed in between their jabbering, ‘You’re leaving! Everyone’s been talking about leaving, about fishermen who can’t fish anymore and about periods of leaving that are getting shorter.’ The collective sorrow of this place, of Marieke who mourns her dead husband. Of the sorrow of the sorrow of the sorrow.
In the afternoon I was lying on the Wapenplein. At the heart of the shopping centers. We didn’t really know what we would do. After exploring the area we decided to collect 30 people and walk down the entire Kappelestraat. There was a fair and the street was filled with people. After about ten minutes I was full of people. Ief, Sietse, and Senne explained who they were sitting on and asked people to help carry me. After 20 minutes we had collected enough people. Ief let the people spread out and urged the front man to start walking. Being lifted up feels an awful lot like falling. There weren’t many of us, you never know if you’ll succeed. You come off the ground, and that is the moment of falling. And suddenly you’re floating above the ground and you’re walking in a sea of people. I have never seen so many eyes before. Eyes of people but also eyes of things in the stores. Sales items with a price, knowing exactly what they’re meant for. All eyes of the people and things staring at me asked one thing only: ‘What are you?’ I wished I could close my eyes, but I don’t have any eyes to close, I am doomed to always see. Half a kilometer, being 60 meters long, I had to go through this world of curious eyes. It felt like a penance. At the end of the Kapellestraat Ief made the front man walk in a spiral, so I would end up in a nice round heap. I crawled back within myself and thought of Marie, and of Willy, Maurice, and of Krul.