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the status of artists

The layers of a master thesis

To say that two subjects overlap, when you think about – or in – art is not slightly close to what is really happening. The same goes for writing. And then comes academic writing with the dispassionate voice, the precise language, and the rigorous documentation. The overlapping subjects, the layers, for example of a master thesis must be laid out in the light and left there to dry. Nothing must show affection, though you are advised to choose a theme that intrigues you, at the least. (no footnotes here)

So, here I am: before sorting out my notes for the SAR conference, or the Flusser symposium, I threw myself into this new set of layers, my master thesis. My theme (no title yet) includes research about a woman whose only voice left is her friends’ book, and a note in the similar album belonging to her sister. She is the daughter, wife, and friend, of historical figures, these being artists, writers, publishers, etc. Clues: she was Dutch, from Haarlem, lived from 1846 to 1930.

Starting from the Leiden University Library, which preserves her album amicorum, I then started looking in archives, first in the online ones in order to see what is there. Some of them, like the RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History), provide download and print options; as example, look at this image of a painting by Anna Veegens. Others, like the Leiden Archive (Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken), provide a detailed online inventory, which you can then physically access without complicated procedures. There, I found a photograph of my ‘Dora’, which I still have to double-check, as it is not sure it is really her picture. Yesterday, I found online her signature, on the wedding act of her daughter (in 1906). Further, I have planned a visit to the Haarlem archive, next week Tuesday. Today, I continue writing, and in the same time looking for, or requesting information. The thrill is growing.

In the meantime, I did appreciate a lot the keynote speech of Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, at the SAR conference, and her thoughts about the ‘humility of the footnote’ in opposition to the ‘posturing’ of the footnote; this, among many other interesting thoughts and statements. It was a full and exciting speech this one. (footnote: illustration 2)

The forum, about ‘writing and the art school’, somehow focused on master thesis writing by art students, was equally interesting. I appreciated the simplicity of their conversation language, and the sense of inclusiveness in their approach to academic writing. Now, I go exercise my ‘voices’. (footnote: illustration 1)

[for the period of writing about the thesis, I am thinking of making the blog reach more private, by limiting authomatic publishing to my fb atelier page only]

Forum: Writing and the Art School, with Kate Briggs and Daniela Cascella
Illustration 1: ‘Forum: Writing and the Art School’ with Kate Briggs and Daniela Cascella

 

Artists' (Academic) 'Writings in Academic, Artistic and Societal Force Fields' by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes
Illustration 2: ‘Artists’ (Academic) ‘Writings in Academic, Artistic and Societal Force Fields’ by Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes

Writing and/in/about Art

International Conference on Artistic Research, The Hague 28-29 April 2016, University of the Arts The Hague & Leiden University, Venues: Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Art, by SAR: Society for Artistic Research

It is more lexical than I thought.

The discussion is about writing and art, with the ‘in’ and ‘about’ art prevailing. Art described as a disruption to the organisation of the human life was a good start. Only the disruptions presented were surprisingly orderly. The ‘f***-up’ suggested (Alva Noe), and warmly embraced, as defining better the nature of disruption, was scarcely represented in the workshops; for example, as a rumour (Dean Hughes), and in the performative talks that followed, as sound-scapes (Salome Voegelin).

OK, more notes to decipher.

(And then day-2 to go through)

 

'Art and Philosophy' by Alvo Noe
‘Art and Philosophy: Taking Aim at the Invention of Writing’ by Alva Noe
'Writing about the Sound of Unicorns' by Salome Voegelin
‘Writing about the Sound of Unicorns’ by Salome Voegelin
'A Column of Air' by Redell Olsen
‘A Column of Air: Flickers/Writing/Painting’ by Redell Olsen
'Exposion Writing: Radical Epistemology' by Michael Schwab
‘Exposion Writing: Radical Epistemology’ by Michael Schwab

 

Notebook from the symposium ‘Transcoding Flusser: Synthetic Thinking’

[only the notebook pages with both text and image]

No better way to pick it up where I left it: at the academy of visual arts in The Hague (KABK). It’s been some time since I posted anything on this blog; life is full, or the mind is empty. Whatever it is, or was, writing and drawing come to the surface, pinching me to go further. Am I not lucky?

What was discussed at the symposium could fill a number of posts. But I first want to see the exhibition at West (the gallery was also the organiser of the symposium in The Hague). Already on their website there is a lot of interesting material from the Flusser archive (Berlin) and from the symposium.

Only one note for now: Yes, it would help a lot the non-experts in philosophical terms, if the ‘model for energetic dialogue’ would include a walking-in-room kind of aspect. The openness about this of the initiators, who also convened & moderated the discussions, Dr. phil. Baruch Gottlieb & Steffi Winkler, is highly appreciated. Thanks!

Transcoding Flusser: Synthetic Thinking
International symposium: Friday 15 April 10.00-18.00h + Saturday 16 April 11.00-16.00h | Auditorium, Royal Academy of Art The Hague

01_flusser_symp_notes_web 06_flusser_symp_notes_web 02_flusser_symp_notes_web 03_flusser_symp_notes_web 04_flusser_symp_notes_web 05_flusser_symp_notes_web

Art and Science at KABK (Royal Academy of Visual Arts)

Art & Science is the most popular programme of the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague (KABK). Students get busy with sounds and images generated by analogue or electronic devices.

For those who are interested but also for those who don’t have a feel for such things, the fact is that there is a new generation out there acquainted with this concept; and backed up by the usual mentors too.

During the open day, last Saturday, I made this short video; the impression is characteristic of the field “art & science” as it is also seen in big art events.

P.S. The use of old machines and cutlery in order to make sounds referring to the noise of the humans has a sense of an ending. Maybe they have found what we all have been searching for as meaning, concluded in absurdity.

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Vive la République!

I believe in the peaceful anarchism of art.

To all those who dream of “armed resistance” within states that have learned to tolerate: where saying your opinion/ exclaiming your positions does not jeopardise your safety; where possible expressions of state oppression is in the critical discussion. When your opinion fires out violence by a mafia, be it economical, religious or dogmatic in any way, democracy has mechanisms and services to which you, we together, can appeal. Advocating for armed fight in such a state means that we are asked to put our destiny in the hands of persons who cannot be persuasive by using words and images, should they ever try.

Indeed, our Democracies fail to provide substantial education equal for all its members, or equal opportunities, yet do stand for it as principle. There is people’s blood shed (Vive la République!) for this principle and we consider it irreversible. Provocation by the pen and the imaginative image sided by a good laughter are meant to shake all parties brains in order to think; in present tense. What in life’s name haunts such killers?

P.S. Urgently: art and philosophy as main subjects in all schools

"we'll meet again", 100x150cm, S.K.
“we’ll meet again”, 100x150cm, S.Kapnissi, #jesuischarlie

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#PAnarchism

 

The art of painting as role model

We call a role model a person that inspires the younger, mostly, with his or her positioning in life. Behaviour and success are considered the key points, but the historical moment and the trends that go with it allow this positioning to come out as success and as likeable behaviour, or not. Outside everyday life, role models are easy to identify in films, as well as in books; in a description so to say. But what if we would remove the descriptive part and offer the values of a role model in pure art.

A painter would suggest this:

Painting has an important role to play in our society despite of what people and the art world itself proclaim with frequent judgements. Painting – the act of and the responsiveness to – is a role-model to the following:

  1. Self-sufficiency, to the extent possible
  2. Non-consumerism
  3. A sense of devotion outside religions
  4. A measurable ability for concentration
  5. A chance for contemplation with result to non-navigated thoughts
  6. A movement of the brain in connection to the intelligent movements of the hands
  7. A sense that time and space expand, shrink and take forms in respond to our disposition
  8. A counter balance to art as entertainment
  9. A living connecting point to tradition and history
  10. A dimmer of human created noise

Thoughts by a a devoted painter and resilient advocate of the special quality that painting offers to the arts and to the community.

#wijn&kunst
@wijn&kunst, setting up the exhibition “the taste of light”

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4 hours in Zurich: art and coffee on tight budget

Zurich is a fantastic place to be stranded for a few hours, but you must make a plan before you go off into town, especially if your budget is tight. I had decided not to spend more than forty euro, which is the same amount in Swiss francs; but did want to see some art…

The cancellation of my connecting flight and its replacement with an evening flight left me with a frown at first; then I picked up my 3 hour sleep energy, put my hand luggage in a locker and went out to see Zurich. It was a winter’s day with dry cold and grey light, but no wind nor rain, perfect for walkers. From the airport I took the train to the city, a little ten minute ride. I was most kindly informed at the airport desk to buy a day ticket that would serve for the train and for all public transport into town: ticket about 14 francs, locker 6 francs for 12 hours storage; half of my budget was spent before making a move.

Once off the train and walking with a tram map in my hands, I had to orient myself: tower at the left, man on scooter, stoplight, Christmas market, train rails; I should cross and be at the other side. Not sure of distances, I took the first tram that would bring me to the Kalkbreite building complex which opened a few months ago. They advertise it as an urban experiment; this was enough to attract me, a 100% city person. The complex has an elevated common central yard with a playground and stairs that lead to a higher level with view to the city and to the complex itself. There are community places (with common dining room with chef), cluster houses (with some shared rooms), office and cultural spaces. Connecting requirements include keeping energy consumption low and not owning a car. It was too early in the  morning even for a coffee at the Houdini film house, so I took the tram towards the other side of the river Limmat.

Kalkbreite urban experiment - Zurich
Kalkbreite urban experiment – #Zurich

I had to choose fast between contemporary art from Japan in “Logical Emotion” and the exhibition “Egon Schiele-Jenny Saville” at Kunsthaus. I went for the second; Schiele could not fail me. The ticket was 16 francs, with reduction, and free audio-guide which I switched off after the first two works. Schiele’s paintings and drawings deserved some active response from my side; a real painter this one, color and line with accuracy. Seen as a total, the exhibition makes once more obvious what a difficult art painting is and even more how easy it is to fall into lies and effects. Artists have been too eager to give away painting… After this, I walked upstairs to the permanent collection, the “classic illustrated” as I call them. What can one feel walking among Giacometti’s, Dubuffet’s, Rothko’s, Matisse’s, etc. and then further deep into history through Canaletto’s, Rubens’s, van Dyck’s, etc. The rooms were too stuffy and the walk too long for my strengths. On the ground floor there were those dark rooms with a presentation by the Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez called “Shadow Play”. I entered without expectations but stayed, legs resting on a bench, to watch two lengthy films. This is an extract from “Artaud’s cave”, one of his art films included in this presentation:

Taking the way back to the train station and the airport, I had to find the place where the dadaists were gathering in the ’10’s of our 20th century. I went by tram, found it and photographed it; what else could I do, make up an instant poem? However, they seem to organize poetic evenings in that same building; there is also a shop with dadaist objects in the semi-basement. It was just afternoon; the evening would offer a different view I suppose.

Cabaret Voltaire, the dadaists house - Zurich
Cabaret Voltaire, the dadaists house – #Zurich

My time was up, my money too; I had to go back to collect my stuff and wait for the flight. Zurich is a good stroll; not a luxurious city, despite the high prices; quiet though busy, safe too. Not to worry if you get stranded for a few hours.

P.S. a kindest young man at the museum café gave me a cup of coffee though my last coins did not make the full 4 francs. Thanks again! #Zurich @Zurich

Walking In the old center of Zurich
Walking in the old center of Zurich

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Interstellar and the melancholy of our only home

There is a reason why we are here on earth and not somewhere else; a gift or a burden according to our attitude, this is the fact. We live on earth, our only home; dreams and plans of colonising other drifting rocks have succeeded only in films. Interstellar is the newest of them, deploying its story through a long narration; a constant feel of suffocation and nausea, on earth caused by the blowing dust, in space resulting from the claustrophobic no-way-out room of the spacecraft, or the ammoniac air on the potential new homes, or the abnormal cylindrical form of the chosen new home; it keeps the dialogue to short phrases. The heroes save their breath all the way; there is doomed bravery, manipulative lies, imaginative trips through wormholes and time-spins and some humour coming from the accompanying robots. There is also one hero who has gone nuts* and takes the stigma of the coward and the evil; but his action is what triggers the catharsis, the solution that lets the pieces fall into some place. Saying that, the film leaves an open door to more stories to come; the script-writers might already be busy.

Themes that pass in the story: ecology, science, the NASA, history, ageing (individually and as species?), belief to a more powerful other and atheism as expression of confidence to our brain, trust to our gut feel on the other side, the individual versus the collective, love versus logic, and the duty to do what you can, just to mention some. Trust to humans in a melancholic way comes as bottom line and I can go with this since the basic questions: where am I, where am I going to, who are we anyway, pop up too while floating in space.

But there are more, less graceful questions to be asked, like: what happened to the animals; where they all extinct before space colonisation? Did we take any with, even in a tube? How did we find the way back to the same worm-hole? How did communication with the earth continue when we entered unknown space zones? While the film is full with scientific explanations that most of us do not understand anyway, such questions stay out of the list whatsoever. Still, we learn that a worm-hole looks like a sphere, and this is even drawn for us on paper!

Some expressed disappointment for the film while comparing it to Cubric’s Odyssey, not finding the poetry in Interstellar. It is too common for the theme, too silly, too casual. However, poetry in art has been accused as bourgeois aesthetics; on the other hand, the down to earth human sound of the film and the limited talks and movements, belong to our times poetry; not cursing but not praising either. The casual in this film strikes as the most honest expression of melancholy about the strives of humans; the earthy ones and the others. Besides, its earthy aesthetics brings to mind science fiction series of the 70’s like “Space 1999” or “Lost in space”; what a thrill!

Going back home from the cinema I felt younger than before I entered and lighter (some bricks lifted from the soul). It is not about hope; rather about a melancholy shared.

 

* I don’t know if it is a well silenced joke (or catch), but I couldn’t believe my eyes: they find Matt Damon on a star, and he is a coward and evil selfish nut-case!

P.S. 1 Once you’ve seen the film check also this article where the titles of the books falling from the shelves are revealed.

P.S. 2 The only real downer of Interstellar is the music; I ignored it all the way.

"Dark again", 2003 by S.Kapnissi
“Dark again”, 2003 by S.Kapnissi

 

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Volkspaleis 2014 – sound and entropy

Volkspaleis 2014
Zuiderstrandtheater Scheveningen
18 October to 16 November 2014

The Zuiderstrandtheater is here to stay; never mind the confusion about its temporary status; it is standing there, so why not use it too. Gallery West organises this year’s Volkspaleis in this new space. Previous editions of this event of a 30 days span, took place in the Turbinehal of the E.On Electriciteitsfabriek and the Grote Kerk in the centre of The Hague. It is organised by Gallery West so mainly video and sound is the expected. A programme full of (experimental) music/ performances; it must be the place to be for sonology students as well as the art&science department of the art academy.

The music programme falls under the title “Public Address/ Hommage à Loudspeaker”; which next to the obvious, performances and concerts, it interprets into lectures/ presentations of the history, aesthetics and functionality of the loudspeaker, the mobility and portability of speakers, the amplified sound, the sounding systems in theatres and finally the absence of them with relation to the acoustic sound. “From maximum volume and electricity, from overwhelming fill and reach to no electricity at all, almost complete silence and acoustic ways of amplifying sound”, I read in the printed programme. In this programme there is also a workshop for constructing DIY speakers by hacking virtuoso Nic Collins, only this weekend; this means that you register from before and go there with a bag of materials (like a radio and batteries and cables) and then the fun begins. I expect the men of the house to come back all excited… but that does not mean that only men participate; not at all.

Of the immobile exhibits, the black&white films in Hall 1 are the first to ask for our attention and time of course; there is a couch at good distance from each of the screens, except from the screen showing the film “Seven songs for Malcolm X” by John Akomfrah (the black audio film collective)-UK1993. For this one you have to stand on a specific point under the speakers, which gives a tough time to whoever wants to see the whole film. In the belief that all is set with a purpose I should think that this is the minimum effort asked from the viewer…but again this is not clear. Anyway, I found this as the most interesting film and very much linked to the present. The other films felt old, though not all of them really are. The outtakes (yes, the rejected material) of Maya Deren’s  “A study in choreography for camera” also feel contemporary in their fragmented narration, sometimes mere repetition of a take which gives an hysterical tone to the result; however, it also lets us look more carefully at the interiors of our grandparents time.

Who says that only in our times you can barely make anything rejected disappear?

 

"A study in choreography for camera-outtakes" Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Strandtheater

“A study in choreography for camera-outtakes” Maya Deren, 1945 -Volkspaleis in Zuiderstrandtheater

workshop room during the break
DIY workshop room during the break
leaving the Strandtheater towards the town center
leaving the Zuiderstrandtheater towards the town centre

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