Dirk Veulemans - Composer


1/6  View of the Oudemansstraat (direction St Paulusplaats) during Bordello 2002

2/6  The horn loudspeaker (arrow) for The Sighing of the Street - Bordello 2002

3/6  Montage of remix Fontanamix with samples of John Cage (part1)

4/6  Montage of remix Fontanamix with samples of John Cage (part2)

5/6  A VHS porno video of the kind the sighs come from

6/6  A VHS porno video of the kind the sighs come from

The Sighing of the Street, Composition for Bordello event, Antwerp March 2002.


Artists and politicians will always have a hard time getting along. They often pursue opposite goals and it is difficult for them to understand or sense each other's worlds of thought and ambition.

In Antwerp, the plans of the city council caused a stir at the turn of the year 2001/2002. In the harbour quarter, the vitrines with "the girls" had to disappear from 14 streets. In only 3 streets, window prostitution would still be allowed.

It was the photographer, filmmaker and musician Kris Verdonck (not to be confused with a better-known namesake who is an actor and visual artist) who, on an impulse, started the project Bordello, Art in the red light district.


The neighbourhood, which was completely crumbling and seemed to be falling prey to project developers, needed to have a constant presence of artists. That was Bordello's aim. A presence that should make the city council more alert and hopefully more sensitive to the social consequences and the typical biotope on the edge of the city.

A sighing neighbourhood and the erotica shop

The city council's decision had caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood. The whole neighbourhood was sighing under the decision. That was my starting point for the composition: to make the street sigh as well.

The "sighing" was actually quite appropriate in such a street. That doesn't take much imagination, I think. Moreover, it was not difficult to get sighing and moaning sounds. In the erotic shop there, with all kinds of porno videos for hire, I found what I was looking for, with some advice from the shopkeeper.

The composition

The composition was conceived as an installation to reverberate in the street via two horn loudspeakers, and this was not to be very loud or dense, but present. The sounds of the city and the surroundings had to mix with the sighing of the struggling street.

As sounds of the city, I used the arrangement I had made for Spectra some time earlier of Fontanamix, a composition by John Cage. Typically, Cage does not let the composition determine the performance. Therefore, I had cut his entire soundtrack into many samples and applied his own composition process to it once again. First of all, all the snippets had to be sorted into six different classes: city sounds, land sounds, wind-produced sounds, manually produced sounds, electronic sounds and amplified smaller sounds. Then I applied his typical process of lines, dots and grids.


My contribution to Bordello was part of a contribution by Spectra, who among other things placed a grand piano in one of the vitrines and had the top pianist Paulo Alvarez come from Cologne to seduce the street with contemporary piano music. Spectra also organised a cabaret evening in one of the caf├ęs there with music by Bertold Brecht.

laatste update: 2021.07.16

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