Conversation rough cut with Theun Karelse

Theun and I conversed very generally on the evening of 26 March about his first encounter with a FoAM project, what interested him about it, and some observations on subsequent collaborations. I hope to follow up this meandering chat with another at some point – between him, Cocky and me.

The first time he did anything with FoAM was in a big castle in the Ardennes, working on “a new project called TRG” where they aimed to design “a space that would be as rich to explore as a beach environment.” It was here in this castle that he also experienced his first bath, which made him almost pass out, and where he was made aware of his role as a calming influence and a general expert in the arts of doing nothing.

He went on to discuss the subsequent Tension Workshop, which was apparently quite wild and at one point involved driving round Brussels in a car that was contained in a membrane inflated by the car's exhaust. It was a period that was “pre-Sticky-Notes” and involved lots of physical exploration, though Theun reflected that other participants, such as Nik and Maja, may have been frustrated that “it wasn't always very geared towards anything” and that they wanted something “mentally broader” (“that's where the Sticky-Notes came in”).

He found art school in the provinces was something of a “vacuum,” and that at FoAM he finally discovered other people with much broader interests and outlooks: “I was already a 'foamie' at four or five, and it turns out there were quite a lot of people like that.” Among the things he discovered while working on FoAM projects was that he was good at spontaneously visualising things people were talking about. Although he didn't study engineering he found he had a talent for it, and became fascinated in particular with inflatable constructions: “they are more challenging because they change shape, you can zip them open and then a wall just falls away.”