WHAT’S ON IN AMSTERDAM. POSTER 19 VOLUME 01 27 MAY-9 JUNE
TUNE-YARDS POSTER BY EMMA RIDGWAY
INSIDE: IT’S A KNOCKOUT AT RADAR THE NATIONAL ARE OUT FOR THE COUNT SMASHING SOUNDS WITH USTVOLSKAYA WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
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Photo: Julieta Cervantes
music & events
Out for the count By Arun Sood
A Q&A WITH BRYCE DESSNER OF THE NATIONAL
t the start of July 2010, The National showed up at a sold-out Paradiso to launch new album High Violet. In a way, this show marked both a beginning and an end for the band – on one hand confirming that this understated indie outfit had outgrown its perennial position as the rock underdog; on the other, virtually ending the possibilities of experiencing their sophisticated and darkly intimate music in smaller clubs. One certainty at least is that no one in the band is ready to churn out templateready guitar pop. This is signified by the European premiere of The Long Count this week. Opening Holland Festival 2011, it’s a project initiated by the band’s twin brothers Bryce and Aaron Dessner. The resulting performance is a multimedia spectacle blending Mayan mythology, video projections by artist Matthew Ritchie and music performed live by a 12-piece orchestra (including The National’s vocalist Matt Berninger and Kelley Deal of The Breeders). WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
How did The Long Count initially come about? The Brooklyn Academy of Music commissions a lot of collaborations between visual artists and musicians. It’s a great way to try new types of work and explore other ideas, so it basically grew out of that. Also, I had known Matthew Ritchie for a number of years. He’d been talking to us about doing something together for a while, so when this commission came up it seemed the perfect way to collaborate on a deeper level. Why base the project on a Mayan myth? Matthew has been interested in myths and epic narratives his whole career and he’d already adapted a couple of Mayan creation myths into paintings. The ‘Popul Vuh’, which this show is loosely based on, starts off with twin brothers playing a baseball-like ball game. When they play too loudly they end up awakening the gods of hell and it proceeds into this dark, twisted story. Rather than try to tell the whole narrative, the project is an abstract song-cycle rooted in that story, but also based on our own stories – being twin brothers and playing in a band. WHAT’S ON IN AMSTERDAM. WHERE. WHEN. WHY.
Did the creative process differ greatly from how you write songs for The National? This project really allowed Aaron and I to push ourselves further musically. There are heavy classical elements to the show and also some aggressive, math-rock style songs that are fast and punchy. One piece is almost operatic and has a very complicated time signature. There’s also one that Matt Berninger sings that sounds more like an elaborate song by The National. It’s a weird evening of music, but also one that I think is very compelling. Given that the performance features a 12-piece orchestra, is there less room for improvisation at a show like this? The show is mostly composed to fit with Matthew’s visuals, which are shown simultaneously on a diamond-shaped screen. But the orchestra features an incredible reeds player named Colin Stetson who is an improviser, only in a very strict sense. The sound of his instrument is almost this primeval, organic sound of the earth. It sounds like he’s using effects when he’s really only using his breath. So he functions as this kind of improvisational character in the piece. Is Holland Festival your only scheduled European performance of the show? We may do it in London later in the year but other than that there are no plans. It’s a big, time-consuming project and we all have other things to work on. It’s not the type of thing we would tour on the road for a month. It really takes a special organisation such as the Holland Festival to make it happen. Are you planning to release a recorded version of The Long Count? We don’t want to release a performance DVD or anything like that. I think you really need to see this show in person to understand the visual elements. But I think the songs will stand up on record, so we’re looking to release an album in early 2012. Once The National tour dates calm down, we can concentrate on recording it more fully. The Long Count is performed at Muziekgebow on 1 & 2 June. Holland Festival runs at various locations until 26 June. See www.hollandfestival.nl WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
Oestvolskaja Festival Friday 27 May - Sunday 29 May Muziekgebouw, various times and prices A starving artist in the truest sense, Galina Ustvolskaya (as it’s written in English) was a Soviet composer who trained under Shostakovich in her youth but whose innovative music, despite initial success, was eventually shunned in her homeland. Undeterred by her struggles, she remained true to music throughout her life, creating works that remain expressive, loud and apart from the classical musical world. It wasn’t until her final years that she earned the recognition she deserved, particularly here in the Netherlands – thanks in large part to pianist Reinbert de Leeuw, who uncovered many works that had never been heard or properly performed. So embrace the concerts of this, the biggest Ustvolskaya celebration to date, as her works don’t pop up all that frequently. Ensembles playing throughout the weekend include the DoelenKwartet, Noord Nederlands Ensemble and Asko|Schönberg (who help to wrap things up on Sunday with ‘Dies irae’, which involves a piano, eight double basses and a wooden box being struck with a hammer until it’s no more). For a fuller background of the composer, two documentaries about her life and music will also be screened in Muziekgebouw throughout the festival.
highlights 27 MAY-9 JUNE
FRIDAY 27 MAY AMSTERDAM COMEDY FESTIVAL Melkweg, 19.45, €29.50
We don’t get to write about stand-up comedy very often here, but that’s because it can be tough for promoters to tempt established talents across to play Toomler and the Comedy Theater when many of those guys and girls can sell out theatres and arenas over in the ravenous UK comedy circuit. But this annual festival brings together a vast amount of international talents – some wrapping up their tours, others prepping new material for Edinburgh in August. Our favourites are mainly the Brits: Ava Vidal, Wil Hodgson, David O’Doherty (yeah, okay, he’s Irish) and Richard Herring (who’s still working his so-called blasphemous but very funny ‘Christ on a Bike’ material). Basically, it’ll be wall-to-wall comedy in Melkweg, meaning there’s always somewhere else to be when Greg Shapiro is on.
Paradiso (Kleine Zaal), 22.00, €17 + membership
Anyone who’s ever seen Mali group Tinariwen hypnotising audiences will know that there are some amazing blues and rock outfits based in the Western Sahara. This group – unsurprisingly led by Doueh, and now featuring two of his sons on drums and synths – also have a meditative quality about them, but their Sahrawi and Hassania musical traditions have been forged with the electrics of Hendrix and ’60s rock psychedelia, ramped up to terrific trance effect. They’re not just a live sensation either. Following a regular flow of European touring, their albums, released via Sublime Frequencies, have shown equal prolificity. The latest is Zayna Jumma, which is acknowledged as their most accessible (AKA Western sounding) to date, but its pulse remains unmistakably Saharan. And try as others might, Brooklyn’s Bamako-obsessed hipsters have got nothing on these drier desert sounds.
MONDAY 30 MAY PJ HARVEY
Paradiso (Grote Zaal), 20.30, sold out
Not only is legendary lyricist Patti Smith rolling in for two nights in De Duif, the irrepressible Polly Jean Harvey is doing likewise at Paradiso WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
(also on 31 May) following the release of her eighth album, Let England Shake. An everevolving songwriter, she’s virtually crafted a new personality to match every sonic transition in her career. And while she’s now far removed from the creatively enraged young girl singing ‘SheelaNa-Gig’ and ‘Rid of Me’, there’s one key reason that you should do whatever it takes to get hold of a ticket: whether you’ve experienced the sultry Peej of To Bring You My Love, the New York glam of Stories from the City…, the sexy riot girl of Uh Huh Her, or even just the current barking mad woman with feathers in her hair, there’s never been a point in her career that she wasn’t a complete star. No matter the calibre of her backing cast, you just can’t take your eyes off her.
THURSDAY 2 JUNE LENTE UITJES
Delicatessen Zeeburg, 13.00, €10/€12.50
Got anything planned for Hemelvaart yet? No? Well how about a personal tour through Amsterdam-Oost? Presented by Delicatessen and Wijsjes Uit Het Oosten, think of this as an intimate little music festival (with poetry and theatre too) that doesn’t stand still. For a small entrance fee, 25 people will be guided through Oost and witness intimate performances in various living rooms, bedrooms and other surprise locations. The line-up is mainly secret, but to tease you a little bit, special guests include New York singer-songwriter Andrew Vladeck, local folky Uinko Eerenstein and indie pop duo The Bellbines. To reserve a spot on the tour, email email@example.com with your details. If you’re too late, an afterparty lands at Delicatessen from 19.00.
MONDAY 6 JUNE TUNE-YARDS
Paradiso (Kleine Zaal), 22.00, €10 + membership
Behind the erratic StudlyCaps moniker of tUnE-yArDs stands musician Merrill Garbus, who’s as strong as a woman and as playful as a child. Her musical influences and interests know few boundaries, meaning her music is highly innovative as well as improvisational: her lo-fi songs tapping into the hearts of Afro-beats, folk, hiphop, jazz, pop and soul, and they don’t seem ready to stop there. These tunes mingle
For more Music visit: www.unfoldamsterdam.nl with varying vocal styles, extensive loops and even field recordings. Her choice of instruments is equally diverse, veering from ukulele to sax – although, as she’s noted frequently in interviews for new album W H O K I L L, she’s only just learned to love synths too, helping to make her new songs sound even more vibrant. Yip, she stands apart from the crowd and we love her all the more for it. (LS)
THE NAKED AND FAMOUS Paradiso (Grote Zaal), 20.30, €14 + membership
This happily bombastic synth pop quintet bring hymns all the way from New Zealand. Although in this case, the hymns actually rock and are bound to feature on lots of teenage playlists this summer. They certainly craft catchy tunes that smooch in the corner with the best moments of MGMT and Empire of the Sun. Their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You already sparked off a mass hype, pumped up by the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2011’ poll, and they’ve since received extensive airplay around the world. Expect this gig to be a mega-pop-dance event. (LS)
THURSDAY 9 JUNE KUMBIA QUEERS OCCII, 21.00, €6
This all-girl ‘tropipunk’ band formed out of the ‘raging full-on’ punk collectives of Mexico’s Ultrasónicas and Argentina’s She Devils. Dismayed by the (so unfortunate) restricted creativity that’s common in the punk scene and the macho elements therein (not just Latin America’s curse I’m afraid, boys), the two sonic collectives came together and began rethinking the musical direction that they were organically taking. Playing around with covers of favourite songs led to interjecting ironic and humorous poetry over the top, and the addition of a traditional cumbia punch brought them to where they are now: a tropipunk supergroup. This evening they’ll bond with San Franciscan postpunk garage trio Grass Widow. At times these girls are reminiscent of the staccato rhythms of early Sleater-Kinney, but as they showed at OCCII last October, they’re way beyond an imitation project.
highlights WHAT’S ON IN AMSTERDAM. WHERE. WHEN. WHY.
film NOTABLE NEW RELEASES FROM 26 MAY
Flemish filmmaker Koen Mortier exploded on to the art-house scene with his rollicking adaptation of Ex Drummer in 2007. An alternative rock-band movie about three disabled musicians who hire a renowned writer as their drummer, Ex Drummer was certainly a vast improvement on its source material by literary enfant terrible Herman Brusselmans. Mortier’s new film follows a security guard who is caught up in a suicide attack and travels through space and time to explore all the relationships between the shoppers, mall personnel and the perpetrator – all of whom are caught up in the carnage. To be honest, 22 Mei is a film with a rather steep learning curve: after the explosion, the viewer accompanies the characters into a purgatory-style no-man’s land, where perspectives shift and events are viewed from different points of view (which apparently confuses a lot of viewers). But even if the narrative is slightly muddled for the average art-house aficionado, the unbelievable cinematography, the haunting soundtrack and Mortier’s directorial skills make this a highly recommended viewing experience. (LvH) (In Flemish with Dutch subtitles)
For more Film visit: www.unfoldamsterdam.nl
different styles and aspects of this non-linear story are clumsier than they could be, James Franco’s soulful performance as Ginsberg carries the film with ease. Think of it as cinema’s love letter to poetry. (LvH)
cock interspersed with archival Cold War clips and a dramatic monologue describing Hitchcock’s meeting with his own double (one of his recurring themes) on the set of The Birds. (LvH)
FROM 2 JUNE
This art-inspired American comedy was made back in 2009, pre-dating Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is probably one of the main pitfalls of this delayed release. Having seen the reality (and fiction) of Banksy’s street-art imagination, it’s tougher to step back into the glossy New York contemporary art gallery scene. Especially as this is essentially a romcom starring Adam Goldberg as a gloomy, neurotic contemporary composer who falls for a gallery owner. When lampooning the art world it has its moments, but at times it takes itself too seriously. (SM)
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
A reboot of the X-Men franchise definitely won’t win any Nobel Prizes. But following on from the flaccid third X-Men movie and the awful Wolverine spin-off, there’s no denying it could use some fresh blood. Now in the hands of Matthew Vaughn, directing character actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as young and strapping versions of Professor X and Magneto, and supported by a cast of fresh-faced youngsters, this just about works in a fun-ifforgettable way. (LvH)
SPECIAL SCREENINGS & FESTIVALS OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW This long-awaited, intriguing hybrid of documentary, narrative film and animation has finally arrived in Dutch cinemas. ‘Howl’ was the poem that kicked off the Beat Generation’s cultural conquest, shocked the American public with its graphic descriptions on the joys of gay sex and launched the career of Allen Ginsberg. When the poem was published, the publisher was charged with ‘disseminating obscene literature’, only to have the charges dismissed in 1957. Though the WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
A portrait of the artist Anselm Kiefer, this documentary shows Kiefer at work in his studio in the south of France, where he creates hulking monuments to decay and decline next to already existing ruins. There’s plenty of impressive footage, though not much in the way of revelations about the artist. It’s preceded by the 2009 Belgian film Double Take, a faux documentary of sorts, presenting original footage of Alfred Hitch-
CINEMA CHILE EYE Film Instituut Nederland, various times
All you lovers of South American cinema will be tickled pink that the EYE is taking this opportunity to screen the latest and greatest films from Chile. For instance, there’s the darkly comedic Tony Manero, in which a serial killer is obsessed with the titular character from Saturday Night Fever. Post Mortem shows the Chilean coup of 1973 through the eyes of a middle-aged morgue attendant, while La Nana follows a maid who rediscovers herself after spending 20 years working for the same household. Extras include a talk show about the current state of Chilean cinema (on 3 June), an entire day devoted to contemporary Chilean films (5 June), plus a view of Chile through Dutch eyes in a programme drawing from the institute’s own collections (7 June). (LvH) (In Spanish with English or Dutch subtitles)
STRAWBERRY EARTH FILM FESTIVAL 3 & 4 JUNE Studio K
Strawberry Earth has a pretty strong reputation for its events that blend cultural activity and entertainment with sustainability insights, so it’s no surprise that this mini film festival leans heavy on green concepts. Many of the documentaries are European or Dutch premieres, focusing on global energy, sustainability and agricultural issues. Additionally, this edition sees the launch of Europe’s first Green Film Making Competition, while Studio K’s foyers, bars and halls will also be taken over by eco-friendly retailers, refreshment vendors and beatmakers.
highlights 27 MAY-9 JUNE
From left: NISJA - Urban Landscape 124 OZYMANTRA - Seasons - Rage of the Eyeball Kid
Gloves off By Monte Bergamont
RADAR GALLERY GETS READY TO RUMBLE
msterdam’s Radar gallery loves conflict. Hell, we could even go so far as to say that with their upcoming exhibition Street | Spirit they’re actively promoting it. The show features two Amsterdam-based painters, the single-named Nisja and Marcel Ozymantra, who through the common thread of ‘the spirit of the city’ will establish a WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
stylistic conflict. ‘Nisja focuses on the silences, the gaps, by creating landscapes where space and time vanish in a meditative atmosphere,’ explains gallery owner Marco de Piaggi. ‘By contrast, Ozymantra is a storyteller who talks about what is happening on the asphalt in no uncertain terms. And that’s Radar’s aim with this: to talk about a topic using varied and different language codes and images.’ Along with the talent on display, it’s these contradicting ‘codes’ that give this exhibition its WHAT’S ON IN AMSTERDAM. WHERE. WHEN. WHY.
strength. Polish-born Nisja’s canvases play with perspective and depth. They produce a tension between what’s real and what’s interpreted, much like the noise and shadows of our urban environments themselves. ‘I’m fascinated by cities and industrial sites; the very precarious beauty they hold,’ she says. ‘It’s a beauty, albeit one opposed to the beauty of nature; a beauty created by human beings.’ In contrast to Nisja’s calm, Ozymantra’s strokes are bolder. Some feel more hurried, the proportions are pulled and stretched, and this makes the work more immediate. Speaking of his motivations, the artist says: ‘I was trying to bring the audience in contact with the spirit of the street as I know it. I experimented a lot, and also prepared some special stuff for the opening.’ For this, Radar’s tenth official exhibition, the gallery has chosen to celebrate by picking two artists that best incorporate its mandate. ‘Our goal is to create a meeting point for artists of different disciplines, so that they can interact and mingle together,’ says De Piaggi. ‘I think the communication or the contamination is of great importance to development… a sort of Warhol’s Factory.’ But at least if all this tension, contradiction and conflict comes to the boil, Nisja fancies herself in with a chance: ‘I think I would definitely kick Marcel’s ass…’ Street | Spirit opens 28 May and runs until 2 July. Radar, Rozengracht 77a WWW.UNFOLDAMSTERDAM.NL
For more art, scan this or visit our website: www.unfoldamsterdam.nl/art
SPECIAL EVENTS UAMO 2011 - ULTRA SOCIAL 26-28 MAY
OT301, 18.00 until late
NADINE HOTTENROTT, Le Moustache
GALERIE FONS WELTERS Bloemstraat 140 www.fonswelters.nl Open Tues-Sat 13.00-18.00
Based in Munich, the Urban Art and Media Organisation Inc. is an art festival that aims to bring together young artists from various disciplines and backgrounds. This year’s edition goes on a nine city tour and the kick-off is in Amsterdam, showing the works of local artists Joost Benthem and Unfold fave Nadine Hottenrott. Open until late each night, expect a party atmosphere with music, live streaming, drinks, art and more.
MICHAEL KUNZE, Ruperts Worte 1
TRANSVORMERS 3 JUNE
Volkskrantgebouw, 20.00, €5
Volkskrantgebouw’s own mini festival promises a night of DJs, bands, theatre, workshops and art. The theme of the event is ‘transformation of urban space’, which will be adopted both literally and figuratively across the ground floor and up in Canvas. Activities also include an art market, hosting creations from within the building, so look out for some Unfold love in a dark corner.
MICHAEL KUNZE Rich, opulent paintings from the German artist. Until 18 June
GALERIE PAUL ANDRIESSE
Westerstraat 187 www.paulandriesse.nl Open Tues-Fri 11.00-18.00, Sat 14.00-18.00, 1st Sun of month 14.00-17.00
BELDAN SEZEN - WERKSCHAU 4 & 5 JUNE
Dansmakers Amsterdam, Sat from 15.00, Sun 14.00-18.00
Solo show from Unfold poster artist who draws and sketches, prints and paints her way to a place between graphic novel and social commentary.
PRIX DE ROME
UNTIL SUNDAY 24 JULY
Smart Project Space, daily 12.00-22.00, free
Work from the short-listed artists for the prestigious Dutch state arts prize – Priscila Fernandes, Ben Pointeker, Pilvi Takala and Vincent Vulsma. Check our next issue for our Prix de Rome pick and watch us fall gloriously on our sword. Actual winner announced 9 June.
NATASJA KENSMIL – SLEEPING BEAUTY Large greyscale drawings and paintings. Until 25 June
Leidsekade 60 www.psprojectspace.nl Open first Sunday of the month and by appointment.
highlights MICHIEL CEULERS – SEXUELLE SELEKTION UND ELTERLICHE FÜRSORGE Solo show featuring paintings from the Belgian. Until 31 May
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featured artist Emma Ridgway Emma is a playful British illustrator armed with a mapping pen and lots of cardboard. She graduated from University College Falmouth in 2009 and is now freelancing in Amsterdam and London. Find more of her work at: emmaridgway.tumblr.com
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TAMARA M Galerie Ba
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MULLER, art, Until 18 June
THEE OH SEES, Paradiso, 6 June
The Haiku Austerity Measures Review. Cultural surplus at Last Minute Ticket Shop. Holland Festival
WHAT’S ON IN AMSTERDAM. VOLKSKRANTGEBOUW WIBAUTSTRAAT 150 1091 GR AMSTERDAM www.unfoldamsterdam.nl
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Editors: Steven McCarron, Russell Joyce Assistant Editors: Sarah Gehrke, Livia Stier
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Music Alliance Pact On the 15th of every month, international bloggers and publications pick their fave new music from their local scene and share it with the world. Unfoldâ€™s Music Alliance Pact selection for May 2011 is Aux Raus. Listen to them via our website, along with recommended new music from 34 other countries.
Poster 19 Volume 1
Published on May 25, 2011
A poster publication inspired by the cultural scene in Amsterdam. Featuring a Tune-Yards poster, an interview with The National about 'The L...