Thursday, December 31, 2009

la chèvre de monsieur michiel

Dit is Sprits (18), de geit van Michiel Hegener.
Sprits slaapt s'nachts in zijn keuken "ivm haar zeer hoge leeftijd".
Ook kijkt ze mee als hij televisie kijkt.
Pleidooi voor de liefdevolle, intelligente geit,
waarvan vele in Nederland helaas geen gelukkige 2010 zullen meemaken.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


While archiving my images on these long 'offline' days I came across a lot of street views, morning lights, surface details and beautiful persons, whom I met throughout the years in all kinds of places. I wish I could be there again.

The instant nescafé was unthinkably sweet and synthetic, yet I still remember this as one of the nicest coffee breaks I ever had. The terrace was in a village somewhere 10 hours driving in a straight line from any other town in Lybia. Maybe it was the emptiness all around that made my small stop in this place so intense and surreal.
Early morning on the Bergweg. There was something incredibly (ongelofelijk) charming about that place, and I still can't tell what it was exactly.
On the beach in Zandvoort, with our Nepalese friends, on their first day here, September 9th 2008. This picture suddenly reminded me of how fragile and close friendships can be.

Rue de la Gare

rue de la gare, emballages.

Rudy is holding a broche, which I asked Monique to make, for his 65 year wedding anniversary.

On January 1 I will drive down to Echternach, Luxemburg, to have a pie with my grandfather Parrain and my grandmother Granny. They used to live in a former hotel Rue de la Gare, with their retail Boutique Krier downstairs. I still sleep there, but the house grows more empty every time I come by. I'm trying to figure out how to make a small, personal documentary of my attempts to get close to them, and to understand what I inherited from their culture, norms, and skills.

Me you and everyone we know is a curator (after thought)

all images of the symposium by Jonas Lund and Anika Schwarzloze
Miranda July, whose work has inspired the title of the symposium,
presented here during Sarah Cook's talk
10.30 am: Welcome word by Mieke Gerritzen
The queue outside just before doors opened (sorry, mara)
I gave a 8 min eye-bird view of important references in my work (such as Francis Alÿs' Paradox of Praxis here) and important decisions in the process of putting together the symposium.

When people ask me how the symposium went, I can't help smiling and saying: it was quite a success. My perfectionist mind has to admit the fact that all speakers were generous in what they shared, their presentations were well thought-out, the visuals were dynamic (with the usual technical disclaimers), and the audience was alert and engaged all day. The Gerritzen-Krier duo (our first) proved fruitful, because Mieke [Gerritzen] can package content like no other - she zips it, labels it and condenses it, so that it remains readable and digestable to all, where I tend to differentiate more and more, at the risk of losing sight of the original stakes of the day. The day got a fresh reset with every Lucky TV interlude, which were selected to fit the day's rhythm.

What were we looking for, originally? We wanted to know how to become 'media savvy' (something both Henk Oosterling and Geert Lovink talk about in the accompanying journal). We also wanted to know if the online world can teach us new modes of critical (read: selective) thinking. Along the way, I hoped that we would be able to identify what a "qualitative online experience" would look and feel like. This question came up while preparing the day's debate (which, due to time issues, had to be greatly shortened, unfortunately) with Henk and Koert [van Mensvoort]. We reasoned over a glass of wine, that if you know how to identify quality online, and you can describe that experience, then you are probably looking at new criteria of quality in of the online-offline visual era. And if you have identified those you also know what kind of (non)infrastructure you need to nurture and foster that kind of quality. But of course it's not that easy.

So did we find what we were looking for? Not quite, as always. Three bloggers plus special reporter Robbert van Strien did track the day's numerous insights here, here, here, here and here. I think that the gathered energy of the day (over 250 people braving a Saturday snow storm, our keynote speaker included, is worth taking note of) has put our question on the cultural agenda (see the Volkskrant article published on the Monday after) - and I think the day simply asks for a second edition next year. My starting point would be "a possible semantics of the visual", a quest which Rick Poynor referred to in his talk, combined with "oxymoron aesthetics" - inspired by Bruce Sterling's invigorating, forward-looking plea entitled Revisions of the Digital.

To be continued...

Friday, November 27, 2009

me you and everyone we know is a curator

MYAWEKIAC banner by Metahaven, who designed the visual identity of the symposium

MAP, by Aram Bartholl.

me you and everyone we know is a curator
is a symposium in Paradiso, Amsterdam, on 19.12.09, from 10.00 to 17.00
i put it together for the Graphic Design Museum Breda during the last few months
the title is a tribute to Miranda July's Learningtoloveyoumore Blog
i like the way she made use of the net to gather reactions from around the world
but still remained a classical analog editor when processing the material
the program includes

Bruce Sterling - revisions of digital culture
Julia Noordegraaf - performing archival material online
Sarah Cook - curatorial strategies for online artistic production
Rick Poynor - design criticism in the blogosphere
Sophie Krier - me you and everyone we know is a curator
Andrew Keen - digital vertigo: selecting talent in the age of social media
Aram Bartholl - online visual culture in physical space
Dagan Cohen (Upload Cinema) - bringing web films to the big screen
Willem Velthoven (Mediamatic) - please try a new search to find more results
Henk Oosterling will moderate a debate with Dutch Policy Makers.

Moderator: Koert van Mensvoort
Visuele interventies: Sander van der Pavert (
Organisatie: Graphic Design Museum
Concept: Sophie Krier, Mieke Gerritzen
Ontwerp drukwerk: Metahaven
Dit symposium wordt mogelijk gemaakt door: Stichting Dioraphte

Symposium Me you and everyone we know is a curator
Zaterdag 19 december 2009, 10:00 – 16:30 uur
Paradiso (Weteringschans 6, Amsterdam)

Entree €25, €10 (studenten)
Voorverkoop: AUB Ticketshop Amsterdam, Ticket Service Nederland

Sunday, November 15, 2009


part 1) shows two films side by side, and three tables (copies of the ones in my home and studio), with archived drawings and writings, as well as (yet) unrealized plans.

part 2) featured scale models of places where I worked, or would like to work one day,
as an attempt to find out what made these spaces special. A small train rode up and down
the paper memories and desires.

BLURRR is an exhibition about blurring boundaries in today's artistic practices. Curator Mariëtte Dolle invited me to take part alongside 8 others, and in our first talks she told me that her two keywords for my way of working (she has keywords for all the artists she works with) were "doubt" and "challenge". I don't mind. Especially because Mariëtte's gaily inquisitive, 'jet set' mind helped me to see more clearly where I stand, and what is important to me. Thank you also Erik for advising me at the last moment (full of doubts...) on how to display the spin-offs of my practice, and on the title (still not sure about Ongetwijfeld - Undoubtly- though...).

BLURRR 9 september – 15 november 2009

Nina Boas, Iddo Drevijn, Sophie Krier, Walter Langelaar, Gyz La Rivière, Strange Attractors, Studio Spass, Esmé Valk, Volksrekorders

Met BLURRR verkent TENT. een ontluikende culturele praktijk in de energieke Rotterdamse kunstwereld: jonge kunstenaars leggen zich niet meer toe op één bezigheid of beroep, maar manifesteren zich en meer als multitaskers.


[achterzaal] Sophie Krier was de afgelopen jaren hoofd van de afdeling designLAB aan de Gerrit Rietveld Academie te Amsterdam. In haar eigen ontwerppraktijk richt Krier tentoonstellingen in, schrijft zij columns en essays en maakt films. In december 2008 brandde haar atelier af, en daarmee ook haar gehele archief van werken, boeken en andere inspiratiebronnen. Krier gebruikt haar aanwezigheid in TENT. om de kern van haar werk opnieuw te onderzoeken. Waar staat zij, wat is belangrijk en hoe nu verder? In een wandreliëf met kartonnen maquettes inventariseert Sophie Krier plaatsen waar zij heeft gewerkt of waar zij van droomt om ooit te werken. In de videofilm ‘En Garde’ trekt Krier als een hedendaagse Don Quichotte ten strijde tegen Fort Asperen. In de animatie ‘Kabouterrevolutie’ portretteert Krier 62 kabouters waarop Nieuw-Vennepse kinderen afgelopen zomer hun wensen voor hun stad projecteerden, als onderdeel van het project Lang Leve De Tijdelijkheid. Op drie tafels – een tafel met het verleden, een tafel met work-in-progress en één met toekomstplannen - onderzoekt Sophie haar bronnen, handschrift en ambities.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Tribunal

This film somehow on one hand confused me
and on the other didn't confuse me enough
Hans-Christian Schmidt, the maker, had the courage
to make a film about an issue that is very actual and complex:
The Hague's International Court of Justice and the ways of the law,
and its side effects on the ones that risk their lives to testify about the horrors they went through
I think the problem with the film is precisely
that it tries too much to be a -romantic- film
the end just isn't right - it leaves you feeling OK
when the topic asks for an end that would make me feel
guilty, ashamed, or at least at loss what to think or do
(Sinecdoche New York's end or Grace's Revenge in Dogville)
I don't know.
Maybe Schmidt is actually right to have chosen to make a film,
a fiction, which will appeal to a larger audience than a documentary would.
But despite its ambitions and qualities as a film (Fox is real pleasure to watch),
something just bothers me. I can't get my finger on it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tokyo - spirit, style, system, sign

Fishing fish through a paper seeve...
Somehow, this popular pass time at the yearly Matsuri festivals
(celebrating the change of seasons)
struck me as super Japanese: it's all about the attention for the detail,
about inventing a system to be smarter than the fish,
and there is one chance only to succeed.
At this particular stand in Azubu Juban,
a mother seemed even more engrossed in the game than her daughter,
who seemed happy enough to see the fish swim around...

Tuna sliced super thin is another delicacy
(non-vegetarians told me)
I like the idea that food can be about the suggestion
more than the stuff
Roland Barthes compiled beautiful ideas about Japanese culture,
among others
the chopsticks and how they split the food
instead of brutally cutting it, like our knifes and forks
in L'Empire des Signes

Lunch at Le Bain in Nishiazubu, near Keiko & Koen's house.
The way Japanese describe things is almost as delicious
as the way they prepare and present food:
" In adjacent tea room tea, sweets, and alcoholic beverages
can be enjoyed in most serene atmosphere.
Light lunch is also available."
And what to think of
"This is good for drink" (above the tap in my hotel room)
"Train will arrive soon" (on all subway platforms)
I just loved it. I felt looked after by some benevolent voice.
Someone invented comfort food,
but Japan had comfort words first.

And then there is Japan's spirituality.
The other day I read this beautiful thought

"man's spirituality is man's finer,
subtler way of paying attention"

And now I ask you, what is finer than a grain of salt
(or 3 small heaps on your doorstep,
to keep bad spirits away)

Japanese tradition masters the aesthetics
of abstention, in all its details
standing in front of the half lifted curtains
at one Tokyo's main temple just before closing time
I couldn't help comparing the sense of relief I felt
to the sense of oppression that some (catholic) churches give me
somehow by not showing everything, by keeping parts hidden,
so much more is conveyed;
it makes the mystery of spirituality physical, in a strange, subdued way.

below are some images of serene scenes I encountered
at temples, but also building sites, or in my little Ryokan in Chidohiro

"C'est un agencement, un agencement d'énonciation (...)
Un style, c'est arriver à bégayer dans sa propre langue. (...)
Etre comme un étranger dans sa propre langue.
Faire une ligne de fuite. (...)"
- Deleuze, Gille en conversation avec Claire Parnet
dans: Dialogues, 1996, Edition Champs Flammarion

What is style, and where does elegance come from?

Tokyo provided me with countless possibilities of elegance
I selected the most inspiring ones for this blog
- Elegance is doing something elegant
(gathering autunm leaves and wearing tabi socks)
- Elegance is crossing the busiest crossing
as if you are alone on the world
- Elegance is a river that flows silently (and thoughtlessly?)
through a city I can't describe
- Elegance is generosity
(leaving a coin in a pleat of Buddha's bronze casts)
- Elegance is the odd one out that doesn't think so
(a deity standing out-of-place, but without doubt,
between countless bamboo stems at the Bamboo Temple,
- Elegance is he who dares to do what cannot be done
(Philipe Petit who spanned a wire, AND WALKED IT
- or should I say danced it - between the two Twin Towers
on August 7 ten years ago, see Man on Wire)

- Elegance is knowing who to pay respect to, and how.
Cemeteries in Tokyo literally transport you into a kind of
go-between world: not an end point, but a treshold.
The wooden panels
displaying the names and dates of the deceased
are so vulnerable
compared to 'our' stone engravings
that they make the passage of time
visible and thereby understandable
(in a bodily way)

-Elegance is at its best when it flirts with humor...
(These dog deities are very serious matter by the way)

My fortune (good)
How could I not start to believe
When things are said so precisely,
and nothing is left out???

My favorites:

"Missing Thing: It's hard to find it. Look for it below."
"Travel: No problem. Take your time."
"Love: Control your feeling.
"Illness: Be Faithful first."

Miwa's fortune (Best)

When the everyday becomes fashion (with a smile)

When Keiko took me to her birth place Kamakura
We visited many temples
And at the second one, upon leaving,
I found my shoes aligned alongside other
white, off white, and beige shoes
I made me want to just leave this arrangement here
like this. It was too perfect. For more beautiful work
on arrangements have a look at
HOKO Studio's recent exhibit in Singapore

The downside of all this beauty and sense of style
is the necessity to keep up appearances
to not lose 'face'
(see the traditional theater forms: Kabuki, Nó, Bunkaru)
which millions of girls of boys 'happily' do

how sweet can sweet be

95% of japanese books that are sold are manga
even politicians use manga to gain support for their policies

Everyone wants to be found,
says the homepage
of the Lost in Translation website...
When I looked up at Tommy Lee Jones
on a friday morning at Shibuya,
I felt a little confused.
The billboards with willfull Tommy "Boss"
decorate entire teen (!!) districts
Big Japanese firms such as SONY
use Western icons only in their promotional material
and ignore their own talent
it's a worrying thing

another downside of tokyo superlative city life
is when you don't fit in
when you're neither young nor employed nor married
Hiro, editor at Axis, sent me a link about
by Kyohei Sakaguchi on homeless people in Tokyo

Satoshi, researcher at Musashino Art University with Miwa,
is currently conducting interviews with homeless people
in Ueno Parc, in which he is finding about their peculiar status
(registered yet illegal) More on this soon.
Japanese systems to make city life smooth:
(or in SONY language: to make the hinge hingeless)
- subway arrows, down on the left and up on the left
(and sometimes the other way around,
which seemed to only confuse tourists,
perhaps because the Japanese simply follow the arrows
without worrying about the logic of the overall system?!)
- subway waiting lines
which make sure no one will ever force his or her way through
at the last moment: you simply line up behind the passenger who arrived
before you, right where the doors open (and then you neatly line up on the left
so you can let the commuters out before you rush in)
- tokyo parking elevator
which inspired John Körmeling to conceive his car wheel (see movie)
- the umbrella cloak room system for rainy days
- the sushi eat what you want system at Shinagawa Station (Zuid WTC like)
- a tradional wedding at Meji Temple on a Sunday morning

and how do you come lose of such a city?
this picture was taken at tokyo's in-city themepark,
just outside of suidobashi subway
- beautiful umbrella's lift visitors
up in the sky and open up before gliding back down
it's better than a 50ies movie

a question I asked myself on the first days
how can such a densely populated city

feel so quiet?

A transformer along the Yurikamone Monorail
in the Tokyo bay area, undoubtly a monument,
I thought at first sight...
Or should it be seen as an un-monument?

Tokyo: my last words
(for now)
for you are:
plug me in....

This song Plug Me In by Hotel Pelliroco somehow summarizes
all I felt when immersed in this city that is
system, style and spirit all in one.
If you ever go, try to find CODA,
the smallest bar I have even been to,
thanks to Hiro.
I spent long long hours there with Eleni,
enjoying being alive, joking with Satoshi the barman
and listening to the DJ's amazing choice of music:
Pure Mélancholie.
Go out of Naka Meguro to your left,
walk until the road goes up on the express way,
there take a left along the small river, and
CODA is the tiny bulb on the tiled grey wall
somewhere left of a huge 400m express junction wall....
(see you soon)