A woman starts a conversation with a man in the waterbus-shelter in the city where she is staying temporarily. After a bike ride in which her gaze falls mainly on the animals present, she decides to visit on him. (Stadsvossen – Urban Foxes, 2012, 17 min.)

 

A coincidental encounter in a waterbus-shelter is the starting point of a bicycle journey through the city.  The varying rhythms of people and animals, the changing light and the unknown affect each other and together they make a symphony of a day. Urban Foxes is a short film about being present.

Intention
In Urban Foxes I wanted to express the feeling of connectedness you can experience by looking at things as if they were new to you.
I do so on the basis of a tale in which a woman meets a man, and after a journey through the city she decides to go and visit him. On her bicycle journey she passes several animals.
The idea for Urban Foxes originated from an announcement that there had been seen a fox in the city of Rotterdam. Over there foxes are very rare. Outsiders, loneliness.

Loneliness you could describe as feeling being cut off of the rest of the world. This feeling seems to be the result of thoughts, or too many thoughts. These thoughts stand in the way of experiencing more directly. Whenever you allow a more direct way of experiencing, the feeling of loneliness will melt.
I intend to express a glimpse of this mental process (from thoughts to direct experience and vice versa) in Urban Foxes. With animals because they don’t think like we do and show us how to live in a more direct way. And with a circular tale in which the direct experience of the film in the end is being interrupted by a thought about it.

Resources
I once read the title “Journey through an apartment”, a tale by the French writer Emmanuel Bove (1899-1945). Parts from reviews:

“The characters of Emmanuel Bove live inconspicuous lifes. They make excuses just for being there, try to please everybody and worry on from one mistake to the next. Only with great effort they manage to survive.” from the website of uitgeverij Bas Lubberhuizen

bove1 bove2 bove3

In “Journey through an apartment” Bove impresses by his simple but very precise observations (…) His characters are Peeping Toms of everyday life. They notice details and proceedings which for the reader by habituation seem to be no longer special. Seem to be, because Bove shows us how to watch life with new eyes, without the ballast of the accepted. That way it impresses without significant events. Judith Janssen in de Volkskrant
“Journey through an apartment” demonstrates how timeless and unique Boves voice was
. De Morgen

Although I read the story some time later, the title immediately appealed to my imagination. Habituation often leads to not seeing everyday life as it is, but in the function habits have. Suggest: you own a piano but don’t play on it any more, while on the top of it you have put some houseplants: then you will recognize your piano after a while as a somehow unwieldy plant table. Just until the moment the cat walks across the keys and you remember it being a musical instrument.

Boves “journey through an apartment” in mind I imagined that the experience of a bicycle journey through a city you know well, could change by intending to watch as a traveller instead of an inhabitant. That exercise was inspiring but rather difficult, because very often I was distracted by thoughts, but now and then I could see the streets as if they were new to me.
Especially what’s beside the floodlight, what’s apparently not successful, will become visible. And by the way: what is success after all?

It seems that on one side there are values in life to pursue, like being compassionate to other living beings, or like contributing to values as beauty, knowledge or truth. But on the other side there is pressure to belong to something, to get recognition, to have success, to procreate. And it seems that these two sides can opposite each other.

The nice thing about animals is that they aren’t part of mankind, and therefore they never can be successful in that way. Each species has its own order.
The nice thing about filming animals is the kind of contact that arises. Filming animals is in some way like the journey of Bove, and has an almost meditative, connecting quality.
Its that quality that leads to authentic choices. Not thinking about things, but connecting to them seems to have answers.