A folded body in the water. Like a stone, still. In rain, snow and sweltering heat.
On my journey through Japan, I saw several zen gardens. Over the centuries, the techniques of Japanese garden design have been developed to guide one’s experience in subtle but specific ways; to reduce the focus on the “self” and to strengthen a greater awareness of the environment and our relationship with it. Japanese gardens have a physical, visual and temporary nature. Above all, space must be felt intrinsically and be an experience that energizes our whole being. When this happens, a sense of timelessness comes over us. We can experience a similar feeling when practicing sports, such as long distance running, swimming in icy water or in a martial arts fight.
That silent body in the brook is mine. Frogs jump around me, the icy water flows past my knees. It takes patience and repetition, but during the months that I return to this brook, as if it were a Japanese garden, this world keeps getting bigger.
I try to be in the garden with a distanced perspective and in a state of total receptivity. It is a journey through a breathtaking space with a dizzying amount of movements. Changing seasons, fluctuating temperatures, the changing currents of the water, the unlike shapes of the sand, the mice and the frogs, the wind blowing different patterns across the surface of the water. The brook invites me to aesthetic, mental and sensory experiences. It is a philosophical and physical microcosm.
The Brook, the reason I move is a journey through the body that starts in the brook, but eventually branches out into the perception of athletes.
In six months of Tai Ki Ken, yoga, climbing, swimming, running and horse riding, I master the essential skills of these six sports disciplines. I speak to exceptional athletes about their experiences and feelings when they perform these disciplines. In this way I create a fictional world based on the experiences of my athletes – I try to climb wíth them, to swim and run with them. The film shows how repetitive exercises of specific movements become engraved in the brain and body.
A quest for the body in relation to its environment. Not I observe the brook… it is the other way around: the brook observes me. Cold water touches and runs past my skin. It affects my constitution and becomes part of my experience. By constantly returning to this water in the forest, this brook has actually become my own Japanese Zen garden. A place to retreat, to find peace and space. Order in a disorderly world.
The brook, the reason I move, shows the metaphorical Japanese gardens or the brooks of the athletes. How sports give us a mental and physical multidimensional landscape of possibilities. As if we’ve gotten new eyes to see the world. By letting the athletes tell stories, I develop a language of movement that expresses very precise their personal experience of the space around them.