February 27, 2012

Plant a seed and let it grow

'Sunflower Seeds' installation by Ai Weiwei

Beginning of last year an artwork and the maker of it where in all the newspapers and strongly represented on different social media. First his installation at Tate, later his arrest. Yes, Ai Weiwei. His art is coming to Tilburg (NL)! I was so happy when I spotted the announcement posters of his exhibition at De Pont! Starting the 3th of March till 24th of June, a real much see!

'Sunflower Seeds' installation by Ai Weiwei

'In October 2010, Sunflower Seeds was installed at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London. The work consists of one hundred million porcelain "seeds," each individually hand-painted in the town of Jingdezhen by 1,600 Chinese artisans, and scattered over a large area of the exhibition hall. The artist was keen for visitors to walk across and roll in the work to experience and contemplate the essence of his comment on mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work. However, on 16 October, Tate Modern stopped people from walking on the exhibit due to health liability concerns over the porcelain dust. In February 2011, a 220-pound (100 kg) pile from Sunflower Seeds sold for $559,394 (well above its high estimate of $195,000) at Sotheby's in London.'

'Sunflower Seeds' installation by Ai Weiwei

"On 3 April, Ai was arrested at Peking Airport just before catching a flight to Hong Kong and his studio facilities were searched." Reading about his arrest in the paper, I was so shocked and at the same time fell in love with his Sunflower Seeds installation. What could we do, how could we help? On Facebook everyone was talking about it, it really went viral. Wauw, people do believe in Art, freedom and having an own opinion! It really awakened something.

At that time I was invited to show my performance "Dance in a ricecarpet" during Starry Night, an evening inspired by the heritage of Vincent van Gogh, in Etten-Leur. I based the design of the ricecarpet on Vincent's work, making a cycle of his life starting with growing Sunflowers and ending with grain, but I wanted also to say something about what was happening with Ai Weiwei. It felt like a bomb ready to be detonated. I decided to change the performance. We already had to make some adjustments due to the outdoor location and a cancellation by one of my musicians. We started the performance with chaos and destruction, symbolizing the powerlessness I felt and the need for change. The lentils used for Barbara's drawing in the ricecarpet where replaced by sunflowerseeds. Instead of silence, a ticking sound was made, passing time like a ticking clock, but also counting down. This one was and is for you, Ai Weiwei!

February 26, 2012

Think big, be epic

'Waste Land', 2010 by Vik Muniz

Wednesday I drank coffee and discussed Art with my friend and artist Isa Gama. She showed me some fine works of Art online and inspired me to write a new blogpost. We both like big, epic, monumental Art, but we also care a lot about detail and concept. Something can be big, but that doesn't make it epic. It has to be jaw dropping. When an Artwork is made with dedication and much labor it helps with the 'epicness'. For me most important is that an artist shows a similar quality in the execution of works both big and small. Sometimes one work is really strong but looking at other works of the same artist you'll see that it only was because it's big and in your face.

'Waste Land', 2010 by Vik Muniz

Good example of an artist that is strong in big & epic and small & detailed is Vik Muniz. Vik Muniz (1961, Brazil) is a visual artist living in New York City. Muniz began his career as a sculptor in the late 1980s. Muniz became best known for his 1997 series Pictures of Chocolate and 2006's Pictures of Junk. In this great TED talk Vik Muniz talks about making art with sugar, spaghetti and much more.

In 2010, the documentary film Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, featured Muniz's work on one of the world's largest garbage dumps, Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. This DVD will be for rent at Cultvideotheek Next Page in Breda soon!

'Sugar Children', 1996 by Vik Muniz In his big large installations the focus on detail is as strong as in the smaller pieces like the portraits made out of sugar. The choice for working big has nothing to do with trying to make it in to something more than it is, but necessary to get details and depth. Of course its grandeur both in the Artworks as the project itself gives it a greater range. More people will be flabbergasted and it gets more media attention this way. 'Forest of beyond', 2011 by Motoi Yamamoto Another great example is artist Motoi Yamamoto. His salt sculptures are big, beautiful, definitely epic and full of detail. I really like his Salt Project "Returned to Sea". Visitors where asked to return the salt used for the artwork to the sea. And document the moment when the salt is returned to the sea. Making of 'Forest of beyond', 2011 by Motoi Yamamoto "The form as the work disappears. However, this salt dissolves in seawater and will support the life of various creatures. Possibly the opportunity when we eat it may come. Of course it is the best joy for me if it can meet again as material of the works." - Motoi Yamamoto 'Returned to Sea', project by Motoi Yamamoto I think the images of the people collecting salt are very strong. Stronger than the pictures sent by the public. It looks like a performance almost, reminding me of making 'Dance in a ricecarpet' and helps me to 'think big' while writing my new project proposals.

February 16, 2012

Decisively diverted

"The essence of sculpture is for me the perception of space, the continuum of our existence."
- Isamu Noguchi

Starting a lot of posts with "I'm reading this book', I guess I read a lot of books, because I have to start this post again with: "I'm reading this book" about Richard Long's 'A Line Made by Walking' by Dieter Roelstraete. I was at the Van Abbemuseum to get more ideas for a project. Going into the Giftshop, promising myself not to buy anymore books, but allow myself to look, I saw this book that I had to buy because of another project I'm thinking about. Not buying books is a promise I can't keep. But luckily for me, this book really helps getting one of my project proposals into clear thoughts.

Installation, 1992 by Bob Verschueren

Before entering the Giftshop this postcard caught my eye. This beautiful installation by Bob Verschueren is made by leaves. On his site you can find more great temporary carpets on great locations under "A little horizontality" . Wish I was so lucky to work on such locations, it makes it so much more fragile and monumental. On the one hand finding more temporary carpets makes it difficult for me to not get extra critical about my ricecarpets, on the other hand it's a nice idea that my work is part of an art movement about temporality objects made on floors.

"Norfolk Flint Circle", 1990 by Richard Long

"(..)Seeing one particular Isamu Noguchi work not only gave Long his first ideas for the floor sculptures that continue to pop up in his work to the present day (the first sculptures in that vein were made in 1965), but also decisively diverted his attention towards the floor as such - towards the surface of the earth upon which we walk."
- from "A Line Made by Walking" by Dieter Roelstraete

"This Earth This Passage", 1962, bronze by Isamu Noguchi

Don't know if it was this sculpture by Isamu Noguchi, but I understand that seeing sculptures finally being placed into the space one their own without a pedestal is a real eye-opener.
I don't know where my floor-focus comes from. I remember playing in the house of my grandparents. Their house is like the Tropenmuseum depot with sculptures, paintings and other fascinating objects from around the world on display. The floor is covered with Persian carpets. Normally you own one carpet and place it in the center of your living room, at my grandparents the carpets are laying criss-cross, even overlapping each-other. I remember pretending to be an explorer, the different carpets were different countries I could travel to, the beige carpeting was the ocean and I was only allowed to travel using the carpets.

February 9, 2012

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground*

Still from "Paradox of the Praxis 1 (Sometimes doing something leads to nothing)" by Francis Alÿs

Writing about Temporary art suits my temporary state of mind better. It's feels more logical to write about things that change than about things that have happened and will never change. Still reading a lot about Batik, Nederlands-Indië (Dutch East Indies) and tribes. Especially about tribes at the moment due to my project with artist Emmy Dijkstra.

Belgian artist Francis Alÿs (1959) lives and works in Mexico City. I mentioned his work in my previous post "Sometimes making something leads to nothing". In his work he combines political statements with poetic performances. In his video 'Barrenderos / Sweepers' he asked street sweepers in Mexico City to work together to move the biggest heap of garbage they can with brooms. Sometimes thoughts feel like this. Pilling up, tumbling down over each other and all you want to do is clear your mind.
With the streets in Breda (NL) covered with snow and ice, it's a nice idea thinking about a big block of ice melting away in the Mexican sun, so enjoy this video and don't forget to watch the other video's by Francis Alÿs.

*from "Where is my Mind Music" by Pixies

February 4, 2012

Sometimes making something leads to nothing

An 'intervention' by Emmy Dijkstra

Today my colleague and friend Emmy Dijkstra comes to visit me in Breda. Beginning of 2011 we started a online residence (see www.edijkstra.wordpress.com, it's in Dutch with a lot of pictures!), first with VAR (Virtual Art Residence, I also had a residence their in the virtual Van Gogh caravan). It went very well, so we continued making work together with the same theme, without actually working together. It suprising how we somehow end up with works that really fit together.

This weekend we wanted to try out making our "ceremonial Papua house ceiling". Breda is covered in snow, it looks beautiful, but I don't know if we're able to put the roof up. We will see.
In April we are going to display our collaborated work in de forest in Enschede. We both big fans of Ephemeral art and looking for a place to exhibited our work, it didn't feel right to put our work in a space with white, clean walls. I was reading the novel "The Summer Book" by Tove Jansson last Summer and I suddenly knew where we should exhibit our work. Emmy also read it and concluded the same: An exhibition in the forest.

When I met Emmy Dijkstra, I already knew her from the Art Academy, but didn't really know her, see made this really fine, small graphic work, full of people wearing tribal or traditional clothing. She had a residence in France and came back with paper dresses inspired by Tapa (I wrote a blogpost in Dutch about her work and Tapa in 2009, see "Synchroniciteit deel II Tapa"). We talked about working together, but it didn't happend until she moved to Enschede. In the Summer of 2010 our work was hanging next to each other during the exhibition "Paper in Progress" and it really fit together, our collaboration started then and there.

Next to Emmy's small graphical works, she started to make more (temporary) paper installations. Her new surrounding have a very strong and positive influence on her work. Enschede is much greener and she lives really nearby a forrest now. I really like the works where she leaves a drawing somewhere, she calls them "interventions'. She made a project for schoolchildren making with them these "interventions". It really great that she gets children to make contemporary, conceptual, Ephemeral art and that they really enjoying doing so!

The title for this post is the title of a work by Francis Alÿs, I will make a post about his work soon. Emmy Dijkstra admires this artist, and so do I. He inspired her to let her work go, be free and let yourself be suprized by the outcome. I'm really fortuned to have the possibility of working together with Emmy Dijkstra. She gives me a lot of inspiration and also it is great to have found an artist that makes things with the same theme, temporality, and feeling.

Paper dress by Emmy Dijkstra

"Here I fell asleep" by Emmy Dijkstra

Emmy's work at an exhibition

"I found a corn plant and made leaves for it" by Emmy Dijkstra

More about Emmy Dijkstra on www.emmydijkstra.nl