B E S T E  B U U R

For three months in 2010, I gave invitations to people in Amsterdam. I did this in several ways.

Beste buur,

Hierbij nodig ik je uit, om mij uit te nodigen, om je te vergezellen tijdens een van je dagelijkse openbare bezigheden.

Ik ben geïnteresseerd naar het openbare leven in Amsterdam. Wellicht kunnen we samen er iets over uitvinden terwijl we wat tijd met elkaar door brengen, als stadsgenoten, als onbekenden die een stad delen.

Dear Neighbour,

I would like to invite you, to invite me, to join you, in an act of your everyday public life.

I am interested in finding out what public life is made of. I’m hoping we can learn something about it, while spending a little bit of time together as strangers who share a city.

B I C Y C L E  D E R I V E

I made a list of colours to follow in a random order: Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Black, White. At the exit from the courtyard of the building where I live, I waited. Some days only for a few moments and other days for several long minutes. The first person I saw cycling in any direction on a non-rental bicycle, and wearing the colour red, I followed.

When that person stopped and got off her/his bike, I approached her/him with an invitation letter in a small envelope. From that geographic point, the spot where I gave the invitation, I waited for the first cyclist I saw wearing yellow.

And so on through the list of colours...

So, beginning from my own place of residence, I followed a "neighbour" who led me somewhere. I followed and approached the next "neighbour" based on where the previous "neighbour" had lead me. I surrendered control over my traveling; each invited person determined the subsequent invitation. This chance procedure forced me out of the zone of my own taste, in people and place, and led me to locations unknown to me. 

Here are the places I was led to; the spots where I gave an invitation:

View Map

For twelve days, I made from five to thirteen invitations each day until forty-five invitations had been given in this way...


On 21st September I made a sign that read:


I have an invitation for you...
Just come and ask me for it.

With this sign, I invited people to approach me for a paper invitation with the “Dear Neighbour...” text above.

"Dear Neighbour, I would like to invite you, to invite me, to join you, in an act of your everyday public life..."

For the next few weeks I used my sign in a number of locations in the city.

F I V E  M I N U T E S

A Wednesday in September, just after I had moved to the east side of Amsterdam, I began inviting people to spend five or more minutes with me on the spot. After our meetings I made photographs of the spaces where we had met after we were no longer there and wrote retrospective-verbatim scripts of our encounters.


Following these invitations, I hosted a one-time performance-event with Marloes van der Hoek. Part lecture-performance, part social gathering, guests made food together and toasted the occasion.

Wij, de Canadeese Erin Brubacher en de Nederlandse Marloes van der Hoek, nodigen u uit voor onze BORREL. Deze BORREL is een mix tussen een performance en een (sociaal) evenement. We toasten en delen onze gedachten over het fenomeen 'uitnodigen'. Ondertussen zijn er drankjes zullen we (samen met u, onze gasten!) versnaperingen maken.

Language no problem
Dutch and English spoken.

Performing Invitations for Nomadic Inquiry: Learning to Seek (in a City)

BESTE BUUR and BORREL were made while I was writing my dissertation.

My practice-as-research project was for the Masters in International Performance Research, jointly with The University of Warwick and University of Amsterdam.

Two methodological proposals I made for this practice-as-research were 'Conversation as a Methodology' and 'Nomadic Hierarchies'. Excerpts on these matters can be read here.

Full dissertation available upon request.