Affection is the Best Protection, Rory Pilgrim (2015). Foto: Geert van der Wijk

Rory Pilgrim - Affection is the Best Protection (2014-2015)

In 2014-2015, visual artist Rory Pilgrim transformed the Polderland Garden of Love and Fire in Almere into a place for reflection. This Land Art work is not only known as a work of art, it also doubles as a – less-talked about - place for people to share intimacy. Rory Pilgrim investigates the possible connection between these two functions. Taking the word garden in the title as a starting point, he sets out to create a temporary place where ideas can be brought to fruition and the relationship between ‘land’ and ‘love’ can be openly discussed.

On Saturday, October 18th, 2014, the project Affection is the Best Protection was launched with a festive disco performance. The hopeful title of the project is inspired on an anti-AIDS campaign poster from the nineties. This was the time when Daniel Libeskind completed the Polderland Garden of Love and Fire in Almere - Rory Pilgrim was four years old then. Both he and Flevoland have grown up in the meantime. What does the world look like when it comes to love and LGBT experiences? How do people in Flevoland deal with this issue and what role can the Polderland Garden of Love and Fire play in this respect?

In his Land Art work, star architect Daniel Libeskind made references to poets Juan de la Cruz (love) and Paul Celan (fire), using lines that point in the direction of their homes in Salamanca and Paris. Rory Pilgrim elaborates on this notion by connecting Almere with communities in Senegal and Russia, where homosexuality is still taboo and a politically sensitive issue. The project is further developed through a series of workshops and small happenings in collaboration with Roze Almere and activists in Dakar and Saint Petersburg.

Exploring the different experiences of love, with speech, movement and music, these communities were brought together in a final performance in the Polderland Garden of Love and Fire on June 21st 2015. Rory Pilgrim has made a film about the project.

Images of the Disco-performance in October 2014 by Geert van der Wijk
Images of the Spring performance in June 2015 by Geert van der Wijk


Many thanks to: Roze Almere, Bureau Gelijke Behandeling, Roze 50+ Nederland, COC Flevoland en Performance October: o F F Love, DJ Love on the Beat, Monika Dorniak (choreography), Eric Peter, Tristan Roques en Luna Schumacher (dance). Performance June: Monika Dorniak (choreography), Robyn Haddon (voice), Leo Gold, Nelly Hakkarainen en Zwoisy Mears-Clarke (dance), Seamus Cater (sound), Celine Wouters (graphic design). And of course Mondriaan Fonds for their generous support.