ADMA 2022-2023


Smila Zinecker


Where is the black chicken gone? mother of the city’s archetypes

or What kind of myths can explain us our lives in cities?

The never-ending story that each city tells is readable between the bricks, in the cracks on the pavement, and in all the noises merging into a nerve-wracking hum. Each place speaks its own languages that I had to learn when I moved again to a new one. And then I began to notice the parallels, the dialects that resembled each other enough to be understood, and at the same time realised the impossibility to compare one place to another.

The process of arriving in a new city had two parts; once to observe as an outsider and orientate myself, then slowly attempting to merge into the place based on the observations.

First there were photographs and drawings I used in order to frame details of new surroundings. These walks and wanderings became my way of grounding myself in a new place. At one point this shifted towards characters and stories, figures not only on paper, which could lead to a way to bring my versions of stories back into the places where they originated.

Metal feathers left a trace of rusty dust, as the bird bustled around their new nest on a cosy corner between the park and the ring road. Just as the construction from wood and fruitboxes was finished, evening fell and the bird cuddled deep into the nest to escape the sounds of the road. Early in the morning, the bin truck came, like every Wednesday. The bin men, too blind to recognise the bird’s home, got confused by the their invitation for a tea, and they threw the bird’s nest into the trash car’s big smelly belly.

Now that I have some stories, new questions come up.

What kind of stories do we need, to take care of each other in the future?

What forms can they take besides the written text, and who can or will ‘read’ them?

How do I listen to and collect stories of others?

How can I collaborate with others (outside or) within the academic context in a balanced reciprocal way?

What narratives sit in the process of making masks for the archetypes and then send them into streets and squares and situations?

In this year of researching in ADMA I would like to find a place and a form for these stories. To find out what function they can have and how to share them. Or exchange them?

some more notes and another emblematic story (the verhalenvanger)

bodies in storytelling / embodiment of narratives
reality and parallel imaginary reality as metaphor (mind and body moving together between the two)
places as harbours of stories
topic of city development within capitalism, money oriented
the archetypes
strategies to facilitate and provide unsolicited participation in urban development
how to share and transport stories? As fairytale books, flyers, dialogue, puppets, …
stories in political actions ? How useful ?
Animal-human relationships
carnival cultures across time and places.
The exchange office in Groningen
What kind of stories do we need to take care of each other in the future?

De verhalenvanger (the storycatcher)

In neverending circles and bends the storycatcher moved silently along, at times walking, at others rolling on a metal donkey with a small carriage, always in motion, suspended between places.

From all this shuffling around, she had lost some of her materiality, and it could happen that only a transparant outline was left visible, almost like a ghost. Along her heavy, very physical presence, she carried a huge silence and many stories with her, hidden and stored away in the long fur pouring out from her skull.

She seemed to be a far away cousin of the Pied Piper, only that she did not catch rats, but stories and fables, and did not use a pipe, but big red ears, catching the faintest wispers. These wispers, but also deafining cries, she collected and stored orderly in memory, translating them into tales that others than their utterers would be able to understand.

Having travelled again to another place, some of the collected stories were shed into the closed ears of the sleepers, and her red antenna ears sifted out words and thoughts yet unknown to her from the night’s air thick with dreams. Thus she carried, solitary and yet linked to many places, the stories and fables from place to place, spinning a transparent intangible cobweb, in which no flies, but drops of tears and laughter were caught.


Her name is Smila Zinecker, she was born in Halle/Saale, which is in (eastern) Germany, and is now based in Antwerp. In between these two places she lived in Kiel, Bonn and Toulouse, and in Oxford and Manchester (DE, FR, UK). I write this here, because the searching for stories and myths of a city is rooted in this moving around and the repeated reorientation that comes with it.

Intending to work mostly as a costume maker, she jumps from work to work, sometimes in theatre projects, or an artist residency, or as seamstress in a tent company.

People talk to one another through words, but then there are also songs that are sung, and dances that are danced, fires that are fed and constructions that are torn down, masks that portray the inside, images that cling to you and never leave, and without all of those languages we all could never hope to understand the other.