Issue 5 December 2012
Voices and views from the Artist in Residence programme at the Amsterdam School of the Arts
Rieks Swarte de Theaterschool 2011-13
Eyal Sivan Netherlands Film and Television Academy 2012-13
Academy of Fine Art in Education Conservatorium van Amsterdam 2012
Rianne Makkink Academy of Architecture 2011-12
Shakespeare won’t help us out of this crisis
Introduction by Marijke Hoogenboom
Rieks Swarte: You can observe a lot by just watching
This is the place to make it happen Hester van Hasselt finds out what drives Rianne Makkink
History and counter history
Mieke Bernink on AIR Eyal Sivan
AIR project at de Theaterschool
It’s all about transfer
Rieks Swarte discusses his approach to his own work
Rianne Makkink: Field work
AIR project at the Academy of Architecture
Eboman: a thief-creator joins the school 22 ON AIR remixes the remixer
Artistic strategies in the network society 26
Dutch version at: www.air.ahk.nl
Editors Marijke Hoogenboom Hester van Hasselt Translator, copy editor and co-editor Steve Green
By Marijke Hoogenboom
AIR project at the Academy of Fine Art in Education and the Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Emiel Heijnen reflects on new possibilities in art education
ON AIR Issue 5, December 2012 ON AIR is a twice-yearly publication of the AHK exploring the wide-ranging collaborations between guest artists and institutes, and examining the school’s role as host.
Shakespeare won’t help us out of this crisis
Production Sanne Kersten
Printing Rotor offsetdruk
Graphic design Thonik Steve Green
Publisher Art Practice and Development research group Amsterdam School of the Arts +31 (0)20-5277707 email@example.com
Images Thomas Lenden all photos except: Reynoud van der Molen: p. 7 Eyal Sivan: p. 19 MaasMediaRotterdam: p. 22, 23, 24, 25 Emiel Heijnen: p.27
© 2012 Art Practice and Development research group All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the express permission of the copyright holder.
This year, the Netherlands Theatre Festival invited no less than three theatre makers to give the annual State of Theatre address, rather than the usual one. One of them was Walter Bart from Wunderbaum, a successful theatre company based in Rotterdam. He made no secret of his anger, a rage that was triggered by the way politics had, as he put it, ‘positioned him as an artist who has to do everything his scolding father comes up with for him to do.’ And this from a man who has always been an enthusiastic cultural entrepreneur – even if he might not have used that term himself. ‘I feel like some kind of adolescent kid who’s decided to take saxophone lessons. I’ve had a good long think about it, and I know I want to play alto sax. And maybe I’d like to play in a band. And then my father comes in and says, “Walter I demand that you learn saxophone.” “Well, fuck you,” I think, ‘That’s not fair. It was my idea.”’ The question remains how we as professionals in the arts and culture sector can contribute to our future, whether independent of the government, or together with it. Walter Bart offered a big list of proposals but if one thing was clear, it was this: ‘Shakespeare is not the way out of the crisis.’ He wasn’t trying to put down classical stage repertoire. He was simply drawing attention to the huge presence of Shakespeare on Dutch stages, in order to confront us with some crucial and highly topical questions: If you are an artist, a director or a cultural institution, should you look to the past or the future? Should you explore existing arts or propagate new ones? Should you try to attract yesterday’s audiences, or the audiences of today and tomorrow? Any art school earns its right to existence by fostering, communicating and challenging art from any timeframe. The AHK is both a heritage organisation and an innovation lab; both a museum and a workspace; and both a protector of traditions and a driver of experimentation. I consider it a privilege that the AIR programme can exist within this field of tension, positioning itself so clearly and providing opportunities to artists, institutes and departments that are willing to take on a pioneering role. In this sense, ON AIR has an almost seismographic function. I invite you to read this edition as an exploration of the ‘state of the art’ at the AHK, or perhaps as a cross-section of ongoing developments, cutting across disciplines and professional fields. It’s with good reason, then, that this fifth issue of ON AIR is
devoted largely to a broadening of scope within the arts and to collaboration with other sectors. Remix artist Eboman sees the future not only in popular culture, social network strategies and young people’s multimedia environments, but also in new developments in art and culture education. And Emiel Heijnen’s recommendations for an authentic approach to art teaching connects so directly with Eboman’s mission, that they almost amount to a manifesto for the teacher of tomorrow. Architect and designer Rianne Makkink, from Studio Makkink & Bey, sees her work as a tangible contribution to processes of change in society. She’s pushing at the boundaries of art, architecture, agriculture and urban planning, with the ultimate aim of fostering a form of social design in which hybrid groups of specialists take responsibility for a common problem. Rieks Swarte, on the other hand, is a contemporary artist who chooses explicitly to engage with a particular Dutch tradition. His work brings together history, a dedication to craftsmanship, and the unique achievements of this country’s vital culture of black box theatre, and it’s a combination that inspires a reappraisal of technical professions in theatre. And to close, Israeli documentary maker Eyal Sivan focuses attention on the need to take a political standpoint. Whether it’s in his controversial films or his publications, Sivan’s work consistently problematises the representation of issues – particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He believes that there can be no critical film and media practice without theory. Or, more explicitly, he sees the political effectiveness of art as inextricably linked with theoretical thought. So, what about Walter Bart’s anger? Let there be no mistake about it, the younger generation is having no problem at all navigating the boundaries and working in enterprising ways. But this same generation is also conscious of its unique capital, its particular currency that it can offer society. Today’s makers, designers, performers and teachers are quick to provide a return on governmental investment, because they prioritise the social importance of arts and culture in the most inventive ways. And if the AIR programme at the AHK can make its contribution to this ambition in the context of art education, then I’m happy. Marijke Hoogenboom chairs the Art Practice and Development research group. She is also professor at de Theaterschool, a position she took up this year.
AIR at de Theaterschool Rieks Swarte
You can observe a lot by just watching The profession of theatre technician is a demanding one. Technicians have a coordinating role linking the director or choreographer, on the one hand, and the realisation of the entire production, on the other. These young professionals must of course excel in their practical tasks, but nowadays demands are also being made on their flexibility, creativity and imagination. And the Technical Theatre Arts department is convinced that a passion for the performing arts is of key importance for upcoming professionals. Reason enough, then, to invite theatre maker Rieks Swarte to be its first Artist in Residence. About the project Rieks Swarte is a director, designer, performer and puppeteer. He is celebrated for his powerfully imaginative work and the unique interactions he creates between performers and objects. He creates dazzling stage work using very limited technical resources. Swarte believes that theatre is all about transfer, and that the most important thing students can learn is how to combine the potential of multiple skill sets to facilitate the best possible level of cooperation between technicians and performers. Swarte’s motto for this residency is, ‘You can observe a lot by just watching’. (Yogi Bear) Swarte and the student technicians attended performances and rehearsals for Pinokkio, a collaborative production by Swarte’s company De Firma and Toneelmakerij. Swarte and the teachers also got together regularly for discussions. The high point of his residency will be a production he makes with the students, which will be staged at the end of the theatre season.
Rieks Swarte on the exhibition in his Cabanon, a ‘self-portrait in architecture’, in de Theaterschool: ‘Lots of things came together that I wanted to show, like prints of lovers and things like that. In the end I hung my ‘mood board’ on the wall and the only images that got put into the installation were of my husband Javier and my mother.’
Swarte started off his residency with the Cabanon. He worked with secondyear students to construct this spatial installation made of wood and cardboard. Anke Nust produced the project.
About the artist In 1992 Swarte founded his theatre company De Firma, which performs in the Netherlands and Belgium at theatres as well as site-specific venues. His base of operations is his experimental workshop and studio in central Haarlem, and his home theatre is Toneelschuur, also in Haarlem. This season, Swarte will making the mise en scène for Pinokkio at the Toneelmakerij and designing the set for Zuidelijk Toneel’s To Be Or Not To Be.
Rieks Swarte got his residency at de Theaterschool off to a start by working with students on building Cabano, a spatial installation that he describes as a ‘self-portrait in architecture’. Here Swarte discusses his approach to his own work.
It’s all about transfer Marijke Hoogenboom in conversation with Rieks Swarte
let in the daylight and then started carrying out scientific experiments from the Enlightenment period. The theatre company Maatschappij Discordia was still working in the attic at Felix Meritis at the time, and they were a huge influence. And so were fellow theatre group Onafhankelijk Toneel, with Gerrit Timmers. Together with Annet Kouwenhoven I made a play based on the German children’s book Emil and the Detectives, in which we used video along with loads of little objects and bric-a-brac. Toneelschuur theatre in Haarlem were giving me unconditional support in that period. It was there that I was able to further develop my thinking and approach until I set up my own company De Firma. You allow the audience to see exactly how your theatre is made – do you see this as a political statement? RS: The way I see it, theatre is all about transfer and communication – direct communication with an audience whom you fully respect. So instead of camouflaging, give the audience the ingredients so they can finish the story themselves and then you’ve got an exchange going on. It’s a game, so you’re part of it and not someone who just performs and then leaves. Theatre mustn’t be authoritarian. Take Robert Wilson, for example. However clever I may think his work is, I also see it as authoritarian. I once saw an exhibition of his work in Boijmans museum. He’d created a forest out of cabinets and stage sets, and right in the middle was a real artwork, perfectly lit, totally perfect. It annoyed the hell out of me because it was forcing me to look the way he wanted me to look. I want to decide for myself how I look at things.
‘Childlike pleasure is something I never want to lose’ History and memory seem to play an important part in your work. Did you know from an early age what you wanted to do? Rieks Swarte (RS): I wanted to become a puppeteer from the moment as a boy when I made a puppet theatre in the attic with my cousin. I’d seen a puppet show on television called Dappere Dodo, but I didn’t think it was good enough. There was one programme I did like though called Coco en de vliegende knorrepot, made by Feike Boschma. I was totally captivated by how he could create other worlds with just a piece of cloth on a string, and some violin music. But when I looked into the directory of professions, I discovered there was no such thing as a professional puppeteer. So I phoned Feike Boschma and asked if I could get lessons anywhere. He said I could come to him if I wanted. I was just 14 and I went on two Saturdays in a row to his house in Amsterdam. But the third time I went, his wife was at the top of the stairs telling me, ‘If you want to stay poor then just keep on taking lessons from Fieke. I’ve divorced him. He’s not here. Just go away.’ I decided I wanted to do something with props and sets. There were no really good courses in this subject, so that’s
why I combined my studies at the Vrije Academie in The Hague with the directing course in Amsterdam – it had just been set up by Jan Kassies. You have a very identifiable artistic language, whether you’re making a play, an exhibition or a film. Is it possible for you to describe how you arrived at it? RS: Nowadays, we hardly ever use the term ‘toy play’ [from Swarte’s own Dutch word speelgoedvoorstellingen], but it does describe perfectly doing something to scale that if it were full size would be too big to fit in a theatre, or which wouldn’t work in original size. Childlike pleasure is something I never want to lose. That’s a core mentality for me. It took ten years before I really found my feet when it came to combining my various interests. I kept thinking that I had to make a choice – was I director, a designer or a performer? The answer only came in 1987 when I made Cabinet der natuur en kunst (Cabinet of nature and art) for the 200th anniversary of Felix Meritis. Felix Meritis was originally an artistic and scientific society, so we built a museum in what used to be the Shaffy theatre in Felix Meritus. We got it back into its original state, opened the windows,
RS: I’ve made many stage productions and exhibitions in which specific memories and memory as a whole play a crucial role. There was Museum van het toeval (Museum of coincidence, 1992) at the Theatre Institute in Amsterdam, Het theater van het geheugen (The theatre of memory, 1993), Oom Toon-Waar gebeurd (Uncle Toon – a true story, 2007), and now the Cabanon. They were all adventures, journeys of discovery, and it ultimately didn’t matter which medium I was using to tell my story. As far as I’m concerned, history’s the best thing there is. Even before Museum van het toeval at the Theatre Institute I was invited by former director Dragan Klaiç to apply my own vision to the collection. I went browsing through the storage spaces – you come across the most amazing collections that never see the light of day. Like there were charred fragments of the old wooden theatre on Leidseplein in Amsterdam, which burned down 200 years ago. It’s an amazing thought that at the end of the 18th century, someone went along to pick these things up in a handcart or something and that’s how they ended up being kept at the Theatre Institute. It’s fantastic, don’t you think, that somebody took the trouble to do it? I definitely wasn’t planning on presenting theatre history as a closed narrative. On the contrary, I wanted to showcase a few things that you’d never get to see otherwise, to make you look in a different way at them and complete the history for yourself.
How does your approach work in practice? Is there a standard sequence in your artistic process? RS: Of course I do think about what I want to make beforehand, whether it’s a play or book or film or story. And then I start looking for the best way of communicating it to the audience. The process usually starts with an image. That image sets off the practical and artistic ‘traffic’, all the things that are involved in the production – literally, the mise-en-scène. The directing starts after that. And that requires actors who are willing and able to work in this way. If you’re occupied with your own ‘autobiography’ as I was with the Cabanon, it can get a bit tricky of course, because it’s so personal. Lots of things came together that I wanted to show, like prints of lovers and things like that. A house is also a theatre in which the play of life takes place. In the end I hung my ‘mood board’ on the wall and the only images that got put into the installation were of my husband Javier and my mother. You have to think really deeply about the choices you’re making, but it’s your intuition that counts first. You won’t get anywhere without your intuition.
‘I want to have as much fun with technicians as possible’ How do you balance intellect and the intuition? RS: You can be all intellectual about it and come up with theories, but that won’t get the job done. First off, you just have to do what you think needs doing. After that, take another look and see if it’s turned out the way you wanted it to – only then can you start theorising. It’s like with drawing: there are methods for learning to draw, but after that you have to do it yourself. And, most importantly, you have to learn to shut down your own commentary, because if you don’t you’ll not be able to draw. Use your intuition till it’s
done, and only then you should take a breath and ask yourself, ‘Is this right?’ I’m experiencing this period as a troublesome point in my career. When you start off you’ve got a mountain of ideas you want to do. But at a certain point you’ve worked your way through them, and then you have to start looking for the mountain again. It’s a pretty laborious process. You have to work the other way round, as it were. You have to go looking for what you want to make. And along the way you’re confronted with your own routines in all kinds of areas. It’s fine if that routine just feeds into your experience – something that you can base yourself on and use to develop new things – but you mustn’t repeat yourself. So, what is your strategy for avoiding repeating yourself? RS: What I do is, once every two or three years, I do a project with someone from outside my own company. Like with Sjoerd Wagenaar from PeerGroup. We agree that we’re just doing it for our own pleasure, and then we sit down together and start cooking things up, without any pressure for production, without having to submit a budget eighteen months in advance or come up with a poster with titles and everything. I mean, come on, that’s simply not how it works. De Firma got funding in the latest round I still think it’s a lousy time for the arts. Onafhankelijk Toneel has had to close down, Discordia’s in a really tight spot. Unforgivable. If I was in cultural politics, I’d give some people a lifetime achievement award so they can work on till they die. I’d put Jan Joris Lamers at number one on that list. He started off the whole second theatre circuit. As a set designer, what sort of relationship do you try to develop with directors and technicians? RS: Some directors have got shopping lists of everything they want from me, but I always think, hang on a minute, a true master knows that less is more. I love working with Liesbeth Colthof. Together we come up with the practical and artistic ‘traffic’ and a direction concept comes out from that. She gets down to her directing, and I come up with all
kinds of things, and that’s how everything comes together. For De Storm (The storm) we were working on getting the drawings right all the way up till the premiere. It’s just got to be good, you know? When it comes to technicians, I just want to have as much fun with them as possible. I want a good working relationship. Something else I always find very important is that everything is visible including the lighting. That classic puppet lighting with a spotlight here and there is just awful. And keep things simple: if you want to get to the essence of something, then you had to strip it back until it’s exactly what you want and nothing else. Of course I use video and new technologies when I’m making new work for the stage, but it’s used in a pretty haphazard way. I find it slightly problematic even to record something beforehand and then use it during the performance. I think it’s too easy. I always want to show that it’s happening here and now. You’re communicating live. If the performers and technicians can work hand-in-hand, something really beautiful can come out of it. Do you have any advice for theatre technicians entering professional life RS: If you’re a young theatre technician, you shouldn’t just be focusing on technical issues; you should be focusing more on people and the secrets of theatre. If you want to understand what people are wanting to achieve within their own field in theatre you need to not only get to know about the different ways of working, but also get to know the people themselves. If you’re a technician, it’s important that you don’t stand still and you’re always renewing yourself. That’s why it’s ideal if you can work as a touring technician.
‘Use your intuition till it’s done’ I’d say it’s best for technicians if first and foremost they have plenty of fun. You should start making friends right from the moment you enter the theatre. And work together on developing something. In my experience, this approach is unrelated to scale. I’ve had huge fun at a big theatre like Rotterdam Schouwburg and they’re proud of what they make there – though my true love still lies with the little ones.
AIR at the Academy of Architecture Rianne Makkink
Field work About the project The Academy of Architecture has invited Rianne Makkink to carry out research into the changing production landscape and the use of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes. Makkink challenges students to immerse themselves in the living landscape and enter into a hands-on relationship with the environment. For her summer workshop, she invited students to her farm on the Northeast Polder to examine the potential for a water purification system and a model for direct compost processing. The students were led by Lonny van Ryswyck and Nadine Sterk from Studio NL. Patricia Ruisch coordinated the project and M arjoleine Gadella produced it. The results of the summer workshop were included in the concluding event of Mapping Flevoland, an initiative of Paviljoens in Almere. Rianne Makkink also led projects in which students could develop ideas for innovative cattle sheds, farmyard organisation and landscape planning. Makkink curated this year’s series of Capita Selecta public lectures, with entirely pioneering women creating crossovers between various disciplines within the field of design.
The white team, who built the watchtower, are joined by neighbouring farmer Jaap Kruyer. He jumped across the ditch from his chicory field to the concluding presentation. He glowed with pleasure when he saw Makkink’s chock-a-block farmyard: ‘We’ve chosen to abide by the food safety regulations, but this is what it used to be like on our farm. I’ve been living here since 1951. My father was a pioneer.’ Kruyer listened with interest to the students who installed a water purification system
behind the kitchen and shower, using reeds and helophyte filters. And he saw how the compost heap could be turned over by chickens in their mobile coop. ‘It’s great what these people are doing here. We’re under such pressure to perform at work that we never get the chance to come up with different ideas.’ After an hour or so Kruyer set off to return to the chicory field with a cheery, ‘Hey, good luck! Good luck everyone.’
About the artist In 2001 Makkink and her partner Jurgen Bey founded Studio Makkink & Bey, which designs public spaces, architecture, interiors, exhibitions and products. The field of tension between private and the public domains is a central theme running through the work of this Rotterdam-based office with an international reputation. Its work includes designs for the interior of MVRDV’s Balancing Barn in the UK, the province of Utrecht’s commission for an innovative cattle shed design, and the interior of De Kunstmin theatre in Dordrecht, which will be opening in 2014.
Rianne Makkink invited students to engage in field work on her farmyard in the Northeast Polder.
This is the place to make it happen Interview by Hester van Hasselt
August 2012 saw a week-long summer school on the Studio Makkink & Bey farmyard, gazing across the broad landscape of the Northeast Polder, walking around in overalls, using a compost toilet and bivouacking in a converted workman’s hut. Students at the Academy of Architecture and the Eindhoven Design Academy took up the challenge. The monotony of the Northeast Polder landscape is something I really appreciate. It must have something to do with my background in architecture. Absolutely everything in it is designed. The polder was reclaimed in 1942. It’s a utopian landscape. It’s the twelfth province, where an equal number of people of all faiths were supposed to come together from all corners of the compass. The entire design is based on the number. The land is divided into plots of is 24 hectares, and the villages are twelve kilometres from the provincial capital Emmelord, and six kilometres from each other. Everything on the polder is on a large scale, and that’s reflected in the size of the fields, the agricultural equipment and the barns. I come from in Gelderland. It’s a river landscape; old country. My father was a farmer. I know all about
working in small fields. My father’s farm was built in 1600-and-something. He came out of the time of reconstruction after the war. He believed in the future. He always wanted to move forward. He was the first one to have a tractor, and he kept on bringing more technology into the house. He kept on modernising the farmhouse until the Heritage preservation people came along and told him to reverse all his changes. ‘That’s that, then,’ I remember him saying. I’ve also got a problem with that rhetoric about going backwards. The ditches in Gelderland were dug straight and now they have to twist and turn like they used back in the distant past.A faux-traditional landscape. The good old days. Creating in the polder My partner Jurgen and I bought a farm here in 2005, with 100m² of land. A farm demands a huge amount of input. It has to keep on flowing. That first winter Jurgen and I were sitting at the table together, lit by a single light bulb, and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to work. I’m not going to survive this.’ You have to keep everything on the move, mentally and physically. That’s why we bring people in, including students from the academies. Jurgen and I both work in
education. All those young people with all their crazy ways – it’s a huge gift to be able to experience it all.
‘I love the monotony of the Northeast Polder landscape’ Lonny van Ryswyck and Nadine Sterk, now working together as Atelier NL, got the opportunity to come here and work for two years after graduating. Others followed later. I believe that everyone has a right to a vacuum, to distance themselves from reality for a while. You get the opportunity to come up with all sorts of things at the academy, and it’s great if you can then take your next step after completing your studies, if you can move on from where you finished. Summer school I like the idea of creating a shelter from the world. I believe in slow growth, and letting things develop. That’s how I see
the summer school. We’ve created a framework, and it’s up to the people who come here how that gets fleshed out. The students stay overnight here on the farmyard, that’s one of the preconditions: ‘This is the place where you’ve got to do it.’ It’s a moment to completely zoom out, just like Ray and Charles Eames do in their film Powers of Ten, when they zoom in from somewhere in the universe to the Earth and people picnicking by a lake in Chicago. By zooming in, I don’t mean getting an idée fixe. If you can concentrate, you can focus and then broaden your gaze from there. You can zoom out from this miniature world into the big wide world. At the Academy, almost everything happens at the computer or in your head. Here we work with our hands. We split the students into three groups, and each group gets a standard package: four of the large wooden white plastic agricultural sheeting and a pair of overalls each. Then they were assigned to working in groups as a ‘utilities organisation’. In school, there’s much more of a focus on individual development, and besides that it’s interesting to see Academy of Architecture people and the Design Academy people getting to know each other.
The Northeast Polder is about 4.4m below sea level, so youâ€™re actually walking on the bed of the Zuiderzee. While they were working on the reclamation, they built a watchtower so they could admire the new land. The tower built by the architecture
students allows you to get up above sea level, and have a wide overview of the countryside. A little way away thereâ€™s a small farm that has been converted into a hotel for East European seasonal workers. The students met a Lithuanian artist who
works on the land here during the summer. She chose to come to the Northeast polder after searching on Google Earth, because she thought it had such a lovely pattern. Now she digs that land every day, and she can use the tower to look over the landscape again.
Three utilities The idea for these utilities organisations arose out of the plan we submitted to Stroom Den Haag. We initiated a new kind of urban design for the Erasmusveld, a wasteland urban site in The Hague that’s going to be developed. Usually, urban development is just a matter of clearing everything up, laying sewers and foundations and building houses. The houses are then sold off, and people go and live there and get to know their new neighbours. We wondered whether it might not be a good idea to turn that process on its head and take as the starting point the community of people who want to settle there. So we looked for people to come together in utilities organisations, like a compost organisation, a water organisation and an energy organisation – people who could design and maintain their own public facilities. You might end up being able to make exchanges between the organisations, or perhaps market your products – just like here on the polder, where everybody sells their products at the roadside. Or they could barter. It’s a perfect time for it. In Spain, the crisis has inspired a lively barter economy. At the summer school, students form three ‘utility companies’: Clean Water, Energy Path and Compost. The students embark from out of their own personal interest in something related to the polder. Personally, I’m interested in tackling water: our water bill was shockingly high – especially when you realise that two-thirds of the rainwater is pumped out of the polder! The students make their own purification systems and composting systems. They can check out example projects on the Internet, because you always have to connect with what’s already there. Then you can develop things more deeply for the polder specifically. Cluttering the landscape I brought the students into contact with the modern farmers in the area. The students were surprised about how approachable they were. They’re true entrepreneurs. The third
generation – the grandchildren of the pioneers – is taking it over. I like seeing how they can work on a big scale, but also get involved on a small scale. The chicken farmer where we were has got 48,000 birds, but still, every morning, he has to go into the stall to pick out the dead ones and pluck them. It’s important to make connections, to see that everything has to do with everything else. There’s a consequence to everything. Food has become so cheap. We spend about a fifth of our income on food nowadays, but it used to be about third. We’ve got kinds of stuff from old exhibitions stored around the farmyard, and the students can use whatever they want of it. Nowadays, it’s often cheaper to throw things away and buy a replacement than to repair or recycle it. I want to show it’s possible to do things differently; show that the world can be different.
‘I believe in slow growth, and letting things develop’ Until recently, you’d find stuff that was in a kind of purgatory, stuff that was waiting to be recycled. It’s similar to in Belgium where you’ll come across those wachtgevels, blind facade walls waiting to have a house built against them. Every farm had its piles of rubble and old timber. That’s all gone now. The government is coming down hard on it. They’re out to stop the ‘cluttering up’ of the countryside. I think that’s such a horrible phrase. You walk onto any farmyard nowadays and it’s like a well-tended park. It’s all so terribly neat and tidy. It’s all supposedly because of food safety. But it’s an illusionary safety to my mind. Everything’s so polished. We’re living in an Ikea world.
Horse and cart Starting in the 1990s, when we architects were working on a masterplan from a helicopter perspective, I began working with SLOOM, in 1999 – together with Herman Verkerk from Event Architecture. We wanted to develop slow growth models based on participation. We wanted to get back to making things ourselves. Herman had a little rural oasis in Noordwolde, in de Head of Overijssel area, where he built a house from scratch. I decided to travel by horse and cart from the furthest point of Groningen to Noordwolde, going past Blauwestad, a project where hundreds of hectares of agricultural land were flooded to lure people living in the Randstad conurbation [Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague] to Groningen for recreation – it was a complete failure. I wanted to find out what the impact was of this governmental decision. I invited people to come and ride with me for a day on the coach box and tell me their story. Later I worked on Wroeten (Toil), a television series by Arjan Ederveen about organic gardeners. It was filmed at Herman’s place in Noordwolde. You mark out your world with pickets and expand from there. I really believe in that. You have to start somewhere and then expand. Don’t be overambitious at the start, otherwise it will bleed to death. We started small here too, partly for financial reasons. A limitation can be an interesting factor. Childhood dreams The older I get, the more I realise I’m occupied with just one thing: fulfilling all my childhood dreams. I wanted to be a farmer. I wanted to potter about in the farmyard, to be totally free in that protected world. But I wanted to be an astronaut, too, to be able to zoom out and see the Earth as a tiny blue sphere. I’ve been flying, paragliding and skydiving since the 1990s. My journey with the horse and cart was the counterpart of that. It’s good to walk the earth, too, to walk through the landscape. Women role models in the Capita Selecta series I’ve invited only women to speak at the Capita Selecta lecture series. I’ve been teaching a lot since the 1990s, in Belgium and the Netherlands. About 50 to 60 percent of architecture and design students are women, but only ten percent of practising architects are women. The most talented graduates aren’t working anymore. They’ve got a family and three kids to bring up. But I think you need to keep tapping that other part of itself. I don’t think you can withdraw completely from your own qualities – partly for society’s sake, but primarily for your own. Women often do all the hard work and let their man take the spotlight. It’s not like that with Jurgen – he pushes me forward. I’ve got plenty of good women who can set an example, too, and I’m keen to have them speak at Capita Selecta. They can serve as role models for other girls girls – and the boys too, of course. Hester van Hasselt is a performer and writer.
Judith van der Poel, fourth-year landscape architecture student: ‘On our visits to neighbouring farmers, we discovered that lots of farmers have smart ways of dealing with water. They talked passionately about what they do, and that was inspiring. Together with the blue group we built a water purification installation, which allowed you to see how much water you used when you showered. And then the used water was filtered so that it can be reused as drinking water for the chickens and to irrigate the vegetable gardens.’
The celebrated Israeli documentary filmmaker Eyal Sivan has joined the master’s programme at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy, with the aim of examining film research methodology and its potential in education.
History and counter history: theory through cinematic practice
‘Eyal Sivan uses documentary practice to challenge historical memory’
By Mieke Bernink A glass cubicle, guards on either side and – behind a small desk inside the cubicle – sits a middle-aged man. He organises his desk neatly: papers to the right, a pencil and a second pair of glasses to the left. Then he sits down, back straight, and listens… The man in the glass cubicle is Adolf Eichmann; the setting, the courtroom in Jerusalem where his trial took place from April to August 1961. The image is from one of the early scenes in Eyal Sivan’s film The Specialist – Portrait of a Modern Criminal (1999). He used original recordings of the trial to make The Specialist, editing the video and audio to create a cinematic essay on ‘the banality of evil’, taking Hannah Arendt’s book of this title as his analytical starting point. Eyal Sivan was Artist in Residence at the master’s programme at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy from early November to mid-December 2012. Like his previous and subsequent films, The Specialist was highly controversial. Born in Haifa (Israel, 1964) but living in Paris, Sivan was denounced as a fraud and a forger because of the liberties he took in editing the original footage. By disregarding the chronology of the footage, by connecting moments with audio that was originally unconnected with those moments, and by omitting time markers, Sivan argues that the Eichmann trial served not only the goal of trying the man responsible for the extermination programme but also the goals of Zionist propaganda. The deconstruction of Zionist propaganda and the relevance of this phenomenon for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict is a recurring theme in Sivan’s work, which has been screened at many international festivals and received many awards. In 2009 Sivan made his most recent film Jaffa, The Orange’s Clockwork, another analysis of the way in which Zionist ideology and mythology took shape. This time it was the turn of the myth that the Jews/Israelis ‘made the desert bloom’, with the symbol of that myth being the Jaffa orange. The film shows not only that there was already a booming orange industry in the village of Jaffo before the arrival of the Jews (and that for a while afterwards Palestinians and Jews worked together harmoniously in this industry) but also how the ‘Jaffa orange’, once brutally appropriated by the Israelis, became the spearhead of the Zionist propaganda machine. By analysing documentary material, artistic and political imagery, Sivan’s film deconstructs the myth that there was nothing in the country before the Jews came to Palestine, and it offers a perspective on a past and a possible future collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians.
‘The deconstruction of Zionist propaganda is a recurring theme in Sivan’s work’
Eyal Sivan’s ongoing interest in, as he describes it, ‘the visual and narrative modalities of political crime in colonial and postcolonial contexts,’ has lead him to reflect critically on the traditional modes of documentary making and its way of ‘(hi)story telling’. He uses his documentary practice to challenge historical memory and the figure of the witness. Both as a filmmaker and as an academic lecturer at universities around the world, Sivan explores notions of history and story, montage and historical timeline, archive and archival material, and witnessing and memory. For Sivan, practice and theory (or reflection) are closely connected. This makes him an ideal Artist in Residence for a master’s degree programme that is increasingly developing towards an artistic research programme. It is the media practice itself that forms both the start and end points of Sivan’s view on the relationship between theory and practice. It’s from the project itself – whether it’s a documentary or not – that the need for academic or theoretical knowledge arises and it’s in that same project that it needs to ‘work’. Indeed, Sivan describes the content and goal of his residency at the Film Academy as, ‘Theory through (media) practice’. Having started in November Sivan worked until mid-December with master students on three of his current projects. ‘Perpetrators’ is an exhibition on ‘the representation of the perpetrator’, and Sivan wants to develop its conceptual and practical outline with the students. ‘Montage Interdit’ is a multi-format, or cross-media, project investigating the power of montage, particularly in Jean-Luc Godard’s films. And in ‘1948 Common Archive For Palestine’, Sivan worked with the students on new media practices that need to be invented
‘to inject meaning into digital narrating,’ or analyse and balance the avalanche of ‘witness’ videos on the Internet. The residency programme for the students included seminars and workshops with guests, as well as individual tutoring sessions on the students’ own research topics. There were also public discussions of issues relevant to Sivan’s work and residency, in collaboration with the Media Fund. Mieke Bernink is professor at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy and head of its master’s programme.
AIR at the Academy of Fine Art in Education and the Conservatorium van Amsterdam
WikiJam About the project For the first time two teacher training courses collaborated with each other on an interdisciplinary project. In April 2012, students and teachers from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam’s Bachelor of Music in Education course and at the Academy of Fine Art in Education worked together with sample- and remix artist Eboman. They experimented with rearrangements of found and self-made audio and video material. These experiments resulted in an interactive live performance at a secondary school in Emmen. Eboman kicked off the project with a lecture that formed part of the Homo Ludens symposium.
Eboman’s desk is the heart of his studio. He’s always on the lookout for the latest tricks of his.
AIR Eboman was led by Emiel Heijnen and Melissa Bremmer, with support from Oskar Maarleveld and Menno Wolthers. The production manager was Mareke McAlpine- Geraedts.
About the artist Eboman (Jeroen Hofs) is a sample and remix artist. He works at the cutting edge of music, video art and interactive performance. His international breakthrough came in 1996 with the hit track ‘Donuts with Buddah’. He went on to develop his interactive SenSorSuit, which allows them to trigger and control samples live during performances. He later developed the Senna application, an easy-to-use tool that enables children to create video remixes. Eboman has produced many other projects as an audiovisual artist and designer at the Netherlands Film Museum, XS4ALL, VPRO, and elsewhere. Eboman was also the AHK’s guest teacher for the Remix Culture summer school at the Master of Education in Arts in 2011.
Remixing existing material into new forms, breaking all kinds of traditional boundaries in the process –whether they’re between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, original and copy, physical and digital, and professional and amateur – Eboman literally merges art and pop culture.
Eboman’s eclectic and interdisciplinary approach to image and sound is highly relevant to the school.
Buying his first sampler in 1987 was a revolution for Eboman. In 1990 he bought his first computer, a Commaodore Amiga with 4096(!) colours. It was a milestone in his life as a ‘samplist’. For the first time, he was now able to mix audio and video and create his own samples. In 1993 he made his first real video samples, allowing him to trigger videos live in performances.
The use of networks and information technology is unknown territory in art education, and Eboman is an inspiring pioneer in this field. Eboman enjoys collaborating. By collecting their own sounds and video, amateurs can take responsibility out of Eboman’s hands: they decide what material will form the basis of their clip.
Eboman: ‘I’m not into standing like a hero in front of the class and telling them how the world works. I want to sit next to the kids and learn from them.’
Developments in art education are moving towards a more interdisciplinary working practice, with collaborations between teachers of music and visual art.
Melissa Bremmer: ‘Eboman champions an openness to all kinds of sounds: street sounds, texts, YouTube-clips, whatever. If you connect them together in your own way, you create an entirely new sound or groove. If you let go of your ideas about what music should be, it opens up a vast and really exciting world. I’m sure that’s one of the biggest strengths of a project like this.’
Eboman: a thiefcreator joins the school Emiel Heijnen: ‘We’re living in a time when images and sounds are overwhelming us. You might well wonder what’s the most effective and interesting approach, to make something from scratch or give new meaning to existing material – by recycling, hacking and sampling? We see it as an important artistic practice that we often encounter on the Internet, in the arts and music.’
Emiel Heijnen: ‘It is important that our students get experience with the creative and learning processes that young people in a media-savvy society are growing up with, so they can use them in their educational practices.’
Students and teachers were introduced to Eboman’s no-holds-barred approach. They worked together and learned from one another. The element of play made for an energetic environment that was receptive to creativity.
For the students, the play element made for an energetic environment that was receptive to creativity.
Surprisingly, many of the musicians made great imagery and the fine artists made great music. Clearly, a fresh perspective inspires new ideas.
The biggest challenge is to explore together and discover new territory in the complex landscape of today’s media culture.
The students worked in pairs, one from the Conservatorium and one from the Academy. They found it especially interesting to work with someone from a completely different field and explore new territories, to switch roles and do things in a discipline they were unfamiliar with.
Mixing media-mixing skills 25
Eboman inspired, catalysed and moderated the students. He came up with the theme of ‘un/rest’ as an inspiration for the samples, and the students searched YouTube for a sample to suit the theme.
Eboman: ‘I was surprised by how enthusiastic and hungry to learn the students were, and how well they worked together. They were able to take on any challenge I set them, so it was an incredibly good learning experience for me, too!’ Using two contrasting samples is often a good way of keeping up the tension, and the viewer is more challenged by contrasting shots that are nonetheless linked thematically. Eboman uses the structure of a joke: just when everything’s starting to fall into place, it all gets turned upside down again. The working space was organised for the community, so that Eboman and the students could confer, allowing his role as moderator to become clearer. A strong relationship developed between the search for samples and the editing process, and the final result cleverly captured reality. The students organised street interventions and body percussions. Guided by Eboman and several skilled and committed teachers, they revealed themselves to be true sample artists.
Eboman’s work is all about stealing, playing and sharing. And its an approach he wants to see used more in art education. The deeper you immerse children and young people in a sea of images and sounds, the more interesting material you get back. Remixing and sampling is freedom. Theft is creative!
The AIR project involving Eboman was inspired by the doctoral research of AHK lecturer Emiel Heijnen into changing artistic strategies among young people and artists. Heijnen explores contemporary informal and professional art production and the possibilities it opens up for education in the arts, particularly the visual arts.
Artistic strategies in the network society By Emiel Heijnen
Stimulate interdisciplinary production Young people and artists alike often mix a variety of media and art disciplines to express themselves. The rise of easily accessible multimedia technology has made a huge contribution to this development and stimulates the potential for merging existing art disciplines. Traditional art education is often presented in the form of mono-disciplinary, ‘analogue’ subjects such as drawing and handicrafts. This offers few opportunities for interdisciplinarity.
‘The era of the artist as a lone genius has passed – if indeed it ever truly existed’ Stimulate longitudinal artistic research There is a tendency among artists to embark on long-term research-oriented projects that produce a series of events and products rather than a single art object. Work that young people produce outside school typically draws on a long-term fascination and immersion in a single particular subject. Traditional art education is strictly product-oriented and typically involves only short-term assignments. Encourage collaborative production as well as online and off-line interaction with people outside the classroom The era of the artist as a lone genius has passed – if indeed it ever truly existed. Artists and young people alike use networks and collaborative productions to share expertise and experience and to utilise various skills. Furthermore, online networks make it possible to interact and cooperate with people all over the world. Traditional art education is usually based on individual development and one-to-one teacher supervision. There is little opportunity for cooperation and interaction with others.
What is happening in professional art practice? What are my students interested in? What are the latest theories on learning and teaching? One could argue that these are the three essential and recurring questions to which every art teacher should have an answer. Over the course of my four-year research project I have focused primarily on tackling the first two questions, working within the theoretical framework of authentic art education – a framework that is in itself a partial answer to the third question. Authentic art education was introduced to the Netherlands in 2001 by Folkert Haanstra. Emerging from a socio-constructivist theory of learning, authentic art education rests on the founding belief that art education is put to its best advantage in complex, lifelike learning situations that connect to students’ interests, on the one hand, and developments in the professional art field, on the other. In the course of my research I examine current art practices among amateurs, young people and artists, with particular emphasis on the influence of new technology on these practices. The young people and amateurs are incorporated into the research by studying informal creative networks formed by graffiti artists, musicians, fan-artists, cosplayers and other communities. The practices of professional artists are collated both through a literature study of socially engaged, collaborative art practices, and through interviews with Pilvi Takala, Evan Roth José Antonio Vega Macotela, The Propeller Group and other artists. The typical characteristics distilled from the studies of contemporary informal and professional creative work practices
have produced a number of interim recommendations that provide an update to Haanstra’s original theoretical framework. Below I set out a number of these recommendations, which are compared with the characteristics of traditional art education. It should be noted that the characteristics of traditional art education are merely used as a counterweight to the position I have taken. I do not suggest that there are no other innovations in art education going on. The recommendations set out below are directed primarily at those teaching visual arts subjects in secondary schools, but they can also be viewed from the broader perspective of arts education as a whole. Encourage students to establish meaningful connections between professional art, popular culture and real-world local and global issues. Young people develop expertise and artistic preferences based on specific areas of interest derived from popular culture. Their cultural production is not aimed solely at artistic development; it is also fuelled by an urge to communicate or to explore certain problems or interests. This broad approach is also evident among many contemporary artists who examine social issues through their work. It is possible to create an individually significant learning path for students by allowing them to respond in their work to topical issues (whether remote or close at hand), and to source inspiration from both popular culture and ‘high’ art. In traditional art education, learning is mostly focused on traditional ‘high’ art; popular culture and personal reflection on social issues are generally viewed as less relevant.
The mastery of analogue and digital techniques is instrumental rather than a goal in itself Technical skills increase the potential for creative expression. However, young people and artists generally learn these techniques as part of the creative process, driven by the urge to make meaningful work. The learning of a technique is very rarely a goal in itself. Traditional art education often embarks from the isolated acquisition of techniques and skills, with students only experimenting with creating personally meaningful work in later years. Sharing, copying and remixing are seen as artistic processes Art critic Claire Bishop points to selection as a key activity in contemporary image production. The search for and recycling of existing imagery and audio material plays an important role in the practice of contemporary artists, and it is also a prominent feature in the informal artistic production by young people and amateurs. The availability of the Internet (the archive) and digital technology (sample and remix tools) are important stimuli for these developments. In traditional art education, the recycling of existing imagery is often discouraged because students are required to think of ‘something original’. In my follow-up research I will further develop the theory of authentic art into a didactical model that art teachers will be able to use to underpin and structure their teaching practice. The practical testing of the model will take place in the context of a design-based study involving international art teachers joining the Remix Culture summer school. Teachers attending the summer school use the didactical model to develop a series of lessons that they will subsequently implement in their own teaching practice. The empirical studies of these practices well lead to a final analysis of the didactical model and its effectiveness. Emiel Heijnen is teacher and researcher at the A msterdam School of the Arts. Currently he works on a PhD at the Radboud University.
Jose Antonio Vega Macotela: Time Exchange I interviewed Mexican artist José Antonio Vega Macotela in 2012. Between 2006 and 2010, he realised his project Time Exchange in collaboration with inmates of the Santa Martha Acatila prison in Mexico City. The project consists of extensive documentation of objects, drawings and photos. This photo shows a prisoner who Macotela asked to mark each scar on his body with an explanation of its origins. In return Macotela attended the birthday of the prisoner’s mother.
IVES.One: Michael Jackson IVES.one is a street artist from Amsterdam. I interviewed him in 2011. He has never studied art, but learned everything as part of the graffiti scene. In 2009 he was planning to make a stencil of Michael Jackson holding hands with a small boy. When Jackson suddenly died, IVES.one decided not to use this critical image but to honour him through a stencil of the young Michael. This image received a great deal of publicity and still appears in the public space of Amsterdam.
Academy of Architecture Adriaan Beukers / Ed van Hinte, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Erik Kessels, Jeroen Kooijmans, Krisztina de Châtel, Luc Deleu, Paul Shepheard Academy of Fine Arts in Education Terry Barrett Conservatorium van Amsterdam Bart Schneemann, Joël Bons, John Clayton, Anthony Heidweiller Interfaculty Pierre Audi de Theaterschool Ugo Dehaes, Ann Liv Young, Deborah Hay, Emio Greco | PC, Germaine Acogny, LISA, Maaike Bleeker, Benoît Lachambre, Nita Liem, Paul Koek, Steve Paxton, Ed Spanjaard Netherlands Film and Television Academy Horst Rickels, Peter Delpeut