Thomas Verstraeten's first solo exhibition at Fred&Ferry is set up as a dialogue, or perhaps better, as a confrontation between two projects: 'Pierre Menards paradox' and 'Familiestraat’.

In September 2014, Thomas Verstraeten made Pierre Menard's paradox. For this, he built a copy of the Moroccan coffee house Tanger, situated diagonally opposite, in the exhibition space. The installation described the interior of the coffee house in reverse, as a place of here and elsewhere, familiar and strange, as a paradox.

For Familiestraat, he built an exact replica of his street in wood and cardboard in a large factory hall. Then, together with 250 local residents, he re-enacted an annual review of true events that happened in the Familiestraat in the bizarre year 2020.

In both projects, seemingly futile pieces of history are re-enacted with great care and precision by their original 'inhabitants'. Both projects take ordinary, everyday events as their starting point. They are pieces of history that are saved from being forgotten. According to the artist, every event, no matter how small or trivial, contributes substantially to those few events that do get a place in our collective memory.

"History is a substance that is manufactured of its own accord; if you turn away from the staccato of the headlines and listen very carefully, you will hear the infinitely slow grinding of the wheels, between which nothing is ever lost," Nooteboom writes in his Berlin Notes.

"My girlfriend Xiaotong and I are both from China and we will register our marriage on March 10th. But it's not a decision of our choice of time, when we are not ready yet.

If we were in China, we wouldn't be able to formalize any relationship. Now we both live in the Netherlands, the first country that allows Same-Sex Couples to get married. But I don't have a visa to allow me stay in the Netherlands after I graduate, getting married would bring some opportunities for us to stay together.

In this project, I will wear my mother's wedding dress and walk from Amsterdam to Eindhoven, the city where Xiaotong is studying and living now. I will follow her flight schedule when she arrived in the Netherlands in 2021, she left Hong Kong at 00:15 am and arrived in Amsterdam at 6:40 am.With a time differences of 6 hours, the whole journey was 12 hours. I will leave at 05:15pm from Amsterdam and arrive in Eindhoven at 6:40 pm the next day.So we will spend the same amount of time to meet each other.

We can't tell our families that we are getting married and we won't get any support from them. But when my parents got married, my grandfather didn't approve and my grandparents didn't attend my parents' wedding neither.I found similarities in our family from different generations."

When time passes, there are still similar stories happening.

When is the right time to love the people we love?