Sjtub is a word in the local dialect of the former coal mining district in the south of the Netherlands. The word means matter, dust, black lung. We borrow the word for a decade (2010-2018) to use it as the title of a public art project that is directed at the citizens of the district.
The public art project Sjtub consists of a series of manifestations. Every manifestation aims to create an experience that makes it possible to feel and think again about the work in the coal mines and about their closure.
The public art project Sjtub aims to cure a collective depression.
Every manifestation of Sjtub is a break in. We burgle existing cultural institutions and events and create a specific manifestation within them. We take advantage of the public the institutions and events have raised and of their history. We use those to maximize the impact of a manifestation on the collective memory, imagination and identity of citizens.
Most manifestations combine music image and text. Many of the materials used are rooted in coal mining history. Some have iconic value.
Most manifestations take place within the coal mining district of the Netherlands. On a few occasions Sjtub will manifest itself outside.
Up until now we have created eighteen Sjtub manifestations: MET DOODSVERACHTING / DEFYING DEATH; HET VADERLAMENT / FATHER’S LAMENT; SPELDJE / PIN; POST- KERKRADE / POST- KERKRADE; KAALSLAG / ERASURE; ICONEN; ADEMNOOD / OUT OF BREATH; SCHACHTSIGNALEN / SHAFT SIGNALS; ALLENDAAGS LIJDEN / COMMON SUFFERING; CANCELED CONCERT; CANCELED CONCERT, OPEN WOUND; A STATELY MAN; MIJN HEDEN, MIJN VERLEDEN; DE TWAALF DUIDINGEN; POST-MINING; KOEL & THE MINERS HYMNS; POST-MINING in de KOLENKIT, WOW-amsterdam; SINOČI – A YESTERDAY’S EVENING. In the course of this series we have created a batch of honour, have identified three difficulties in mourning, have encountered a locally contagious personality disorder, have formulated a moral challenge in the form of two questions and have begun the work to conquer a deadly fear.
Three questions inform and haunt our artistic practice at this time. Can we create works of art that lift the spirit of a people and empower? Can we create works of art that redeem a past and do justice to the dead? Can we create works of art that open up a better future and prevent suffering? We look forward to discussing these questions in a material way, without illusions, without false hopes, without hubris – but with dead coalminers in mind, and an ugly shrinking city and a citizenry that in the last elections voted en masse for the far right.
Sjtub will dirty your mind for you.