Resident #4: FANG – Stefa Govaart

FANG works through the finesse and generality of U.S. English. It takes on The Book of Psalms. Using English translations available at, thesauri, and videos on syntax, grammar and pronunciation, Govaart pursues a life-long interest in language. Six months in a Bostonian suburb as a six-year old proved insufficient for acquiring native English skills. Conceding to their non-fluency, the young Govaart spoke Dutch with US-American intonation. A child of pragmatists, the North-American bent for overtly performed feminine friendliness was deemed fake by Dutch sternness. Seduced by their heightened theatricality, US women embodied what the kid desired: the unbalanced excess of language rather than its noncontradictory meaningfulness. In Arlington’s primary school, Govaart was taught songs, not words, leaving the States in 1999 with over 50 songs learned by heart. An underdeveloped reading capacity was flagged upon return to the Netherlands. Failing to acknowledge what formed in its stead––an enhanced intuition for the whims of translation, of what exceeds proper speech––the pronouncement was: Govaart is a bad reader. A preference for dictionaries and poems over novels and narrative stories might have been its corollary. When we talk and fail to mean what we say and say what we mean, this is not because of a paucity of means. Rather: the means are too varied, too lavish and lush, too unrestricted. The autonomy of the signifier is language’s charge.

Belaboring the verbal pool in which we are birthed, Fang obsesses over locution, idioms and jargon poised between the vernacular, the religious and the philosophical. Our lingua franca is its beloved, its foe. Fang’s content foregrounds the repetitive psalmic narration of surrender, submission and adoration to prompt audiences to think gender, sex and love in light of property, barter and authority. Fang’s questions, statements, commands and exclamations summon a collective space in which you are positioned. You and I have to be invested in what brutalizes us. What stance can/must be taken? What for/against?


30 juli





Stefa Govaart is a dancer and performer. They work in the theater as well as the visual arts context (Eszter Salamon, Christine De Smedt, Claudia Pagès, among others). Govaart co-organizes Spring Meeting at Performing Arts Forum (FR), as well as the seminar series We Have Never Had Sex at ASCA (University of Amsterdam). They have taught theory classes at P.A.R.T.S. and Sandberg Instituut. Their work deals with the charge of language, and the social posture of thought and the face. They assist, collaborate and misread, being invested in the trouble and labor of relationships. Their prime collaborator is Marija Cetinić. An e-epistolary book project on sex negativity is in the making. They live in Brussels, soon New York.

Supported by de Vlaamse Gemeenschap

Make-up by Toni Steffens

Graphic design by Nuno Beijinho

Thanks to rile* Brussels, PAF St. Erme, Tempel Amsterdam, Bojana Cvejić

Never w/o Marija Cetinić