Concertgebouw, Bruges
February 5, 2006
An installation for 67 men covered in white chocolate.

Michiel writes:

I was there. 
I came, I underwent and I saw. 

Participation was a statement, not just some dare. A once in a life time event that I could, but won't repeat, since there would, for me, be no extra added value in doing it a second time. 

It was unique. No one will ever contradict that. Why do people participate in such an event? Be it a statement or sympathy for the work of an artist, disapprovement of it only shows what is wrong with our society.

Photo by Dominique Persoone
Ulrich writes:
I was one of the 67 men "dressed" in white chocolate in February 2006. Rather cold morning, but nothing compared to what we had endured a few months earlier in May 2005. This time Spencer had choosen the modern Concertgebouw, in contrast to the installation in May 2005 which took place in the old "theatre". As the ancient romans said "de gustibus et coloris non disputandum est" I as one, do not like the Concertgebouw with its modern architecture, it might have been worthwhile if it had not been situated on the enclosed "zand". It looks all a bit "factory-like" as does the interior. Well, never mind my opinion.

When I had heard about the upcoming installation, i registered on the spot and so did a friend of mine and a cousin, whom I warned to register as quickly as possible.

Photo by Dominique Persoone
A few days before the date, we received the confirmation in our mail. A phonecall to my friend and cousin confirmed that they too had received it. As it turned out, Spencer had picked out a few "experienced" people, living not too far away.

At the meeting we realised that no more than 60 or so participants were allowed. Spencer arrived, limping a bit because of a torn muscle. He explained his intentions to us while we were sitting on the floor. From the ground floor, a flight of stairs leads to the entrance of the theatre. Next to these stairs is a marble ramp for wheel chairs. We were to be stretched on the floor and then have white chocolate squirted on us.

Now this chocolate is a story in itself. Used previously for a women-only installation in May 2005, this chocolate was especially made by one of the world's best chocolate makers, Dominique Persoone of "the chocolate" line in Bruges. For that women's installation, the material was made to stick well to the naked bodies, not to drip but neither become hard so it would break. Alas,they had forgotten, that once the installation was over, it would have to be taken off. For a second set of photos on a medieval bridge the chocolate was smeared open all over the poor girl's bodies. And that was that. Or was it?

They had no showers in a plain street at 8 in the morning. Most of the women had to struggle back into underwear and squeeze into T shirts over that sticky viscous chocolate. A girl I know was handed a roll of plastic foil by a friendly neighbour to wrap herself in so she could get into her trousers. And then home for a hot shower, fully dressed. It took some of them hours to clean up.

Spencer and Dominique check the brown 
chocolate used for the women's installation 
in a photo taken by Mrs. Persoone

Photo by Dominique Persoone
This time Spencer's idea was not to have women but men. Not brown chocolate, but white, and not in the medieval part of Bruges, but in the modern Concertgebouw. And this time everything had been thought out a bit better. The white chocolate was less sugar based and more oily (after washing it off my skin was smooth as a baby's bottom), showers were provided with soap, towels, etc.

The installation itself was very fast, as you can imagine. It is much easier for Spencer to direct a group of only 67 people (especially men). Spencer then explained to us that he had only permission to take photos inside the building, but he was hoping to take a few more shots outside, braving possible police or passers-by. He explained what he wanted us to do once we would be outside, and on the count of 3, 67 naked white chocolate covered men stormed outside the concertgebouw and took place just in front of it. As it was nearly 10am, a few elderly couples were strolling towards Sunday mass. The vicar must have wondered why so many people came in 20 minutes late.

As all this happened the day before the official opening of the exhibition featuring the 2005 installation, I was so lucky to get hold of an exhibition poster from the desk of the tourism office which just then opened. Spencer was ever so kind to sign it for me. And now it's hanging nicely framed among my official photos of Bruges 2005: the black chocolate ladies and the personally hand-signed original of the 67 white men.

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