press release

'Me & You on a Golden Avenue' is the sequel to the gallery presentation staged by Saskia Janssen (b. 's Hertogenbosch, 1968) in July 2008. Central to this exhibition is the publication Blaka Watra Spiders, in which she reports on her encounters in the Blaka Watra users' room in Amsterdam during the period 2006 to 2008. The works to be seen in the exhibition were made with, by and for Blaka Watra's visitors. Some of these works were inspired by the journey she made to Surinam with three of the visitors in late 2008.

Blaka Watra was one of first users' rooms in Amsterdam and is primarily frequented by an 'invisible' group of users with roots in Surinam. Most of them moved here after Surinam gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1975. Blaka Watra's visitors are long-term users of hard drugs, most of them between 45 and 65 years old. Blaka Watra's function is two-fold: it offers shelter and protection but at the same time provides for the 'tidying up' of public space and thus meets the growing clamour for a sense of safety in the public domain.

Saskia Janssen often works in conjunction with specific groups of people. This is driven by her personal fascination with making a situation 'visible'. A users' space like Blaka Watra is integrated into her work simply because she is curious about this invisible group, which has been sidelined to society's periphery because the majority of us regard them as a source of nuisance. Saskia Janssen's intention was to become acquainted with the users, and the work was produced as a result of this contact. She does not profess to improve the situation of the users; she has no 'good intentions'. She does, however, cherish the ambition to generate something special as a result of such contact.

The publication is the result of a study conducted by Saskia Janssen in the context of the Art and Public Space Research Group project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.

Blaka Watra Spiders (Me & You on a Golden Avenue), Roma Publications, 2009.

only in german

Saskia Janssen
Me & You on a Golden Avenue