(PHOTO Paramaribo Perspectives/Fred)
Charl Landvreugd will elaborate on the colour black at Studium Generale. Aesthetically, politically, theoretically as well as practically, black is the base colour in his practice. Landvreugd researches the visual strategies of Dutch Afro artists with a focus on the production of cultural citizenship. He argues that the discourse dominated by post-colonial theoretical frameworks does not always suffice in describing the Dutch and continental European Afro art production. At present, black serves only as an often-used borrowed denomination, without actual, concrete consensus on its meaning or applicability among members of the African diaspora in the Netherlands. Since a Black- or better still Afro-self-awareness is growing, naming all such subjects as black at this point in time is (possibly prematurely) advancing a case for recognition of a specific continental European Black condition. Landvreugd advocates for local European concepts and language that have the potential to speak about the sensibilities specific to the area.
Charl Landvreugd (Paramaribo, 1971) lives and works in Rotterdam as a visual artist. In his practice he mainly works with sculpture, performance, installation, photography and video. At Goldsmiths University in London he studied Fine Art and History of Art (BA). After that he continued his studies in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MA) at Columbia University in New York. Currently he continues his investigations at the Royal College of Art in London in the PhD programme Curating Contemporary Art, exploring black – with a small b, denoting colour rather than politics – and Blackness in all its different meanings and diversity. Also he has a wide experience as a curator and a writer, working in Europe, the Caribbean and the United States
In 500 years, our views on evil have changed completely. From monsters, demons and witches to the cruelties of what people do to each other. Philosophically speaking, evil has changed from being vertical to being horizontal. The philosopher Sartre says: “hell is other people”. “Other people”, that is: you. Hell is you, that is. Modern philosophy says you can’t talk about evil without talking about yourself. Take up the challenge and explore the history of evil and how bad you really are.
Tempelman contributes to multiple blogs and is the founder of Denkjewel.nl. Under the title God or Not he wrote a series of three articles in which he questions the historical proof of God (and their refutations) and he relates to what philosophers thought about this subject. In a related article he reflects on the arguments against the existence of God. The most used argument is that of evil: “Since there is evil, there can’t be a God”.
Gerko Tempelman (1988) studied theology and philosophy and keeps himself busy with the oddness of life and how to discover what is meaningful in the postmodern playground. In his quest, Tempelman has developed several projects like the Dutch Death Cafe (‘conversations about death at the coffee table’) and the Dutch Church for Atheists. He has taught classes like The Meaning(-lessness) of Life, A Brief History of Hell and Philosophy and Islam (How the Arab science and enlightenment was brought to the European Middle Ages) at institutions like The School of Life and the Vrije Academie in Amsterdam.
For Studium Generale by Rosseel, one of the topics will be his project Belgian Autumn. A Confabulated History (2010 – 2015). In the autumn of 1985 a series of violent and bloody robberies of Belgian supermarkets abruptly came to an end. A group of unknown criminals, referred to as “The Gang of Nivelles” (De Bende van Nijvel), was held responsible for these heinous acts. Despite of the police investigation, a file of almost three million pages, the perpetrators were never apprehended. Between March 1982 and November 1985 the Gang of Nivelles committed twenty-three robberies and other crimes. In all, twenty-eight people were killed. Jan’s father was one of them.
The other topic Rosseel will talk about is his latest project, On the Aesthetics of Violence. In this recent project he focusses on the way we consume images, and the uneasy relation between acts of violence, atrocity and aesthetics. It reflects on the role of media and journalism in contemporary historical recording and the way history and historical events are represented, interpreted, constructed and re-constructed.
We’re always connected, but so disconnected from the reality of violence at the same time. This results in a series of images where the viewer realises that he / she is not only watching an aestheticised image but a historical act of violence.
Rosseel’s work is best described as visual storytelling, between narration and documentation. He works as a collector of memories using photography, video and objects. Stories that not only reconstruct historical events but also ask questions about the reliability of our memory and our brain.
Jan Rosseel (Brussels, 1979) studied documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague and photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. For the project Belgian Autumn. A Confabulated History Rosseel received several prizes and nominations. His work has been exhibited in FOAM, Photoville NY, and has been published in New York Times, Stern, De Standaard, de Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland and The Huffington Post.
Daria Bukvić interviewed by Wieke ten Cate
The first theatre play that Daria Bukvić directed was her graduation project From Russia with love in 2013. Together with Vanja Rukavina, Bukvić created a play where four Dutch and four Russian youngsters meet on the stage floor. Confronted with themselves, each other and all the cultural clichés that they carry with them led to a physical, outgoing and humorous show.
In December 2015 her new show Nobody Home premiered at the Theatre Company in Amsterdam. In the show three actors (Vanja Rukavina, Majd Mardo and Saman Amini) look back at their past as refugees and tell their stories about their flight experiences and how they grew up in the Netherlands.
Bukvić and the actors were all born in the same year, 1989. As a kid they fled from their home country – Iran, Syria and Bosnia – and then started around the same time at the Maastricht Theatre Academy. These special circumstances almost naturally led to a perfor- mance. Nobody Home is a funny and poignant coming of age story about three young people, a reflection on how the treatment of refugees in the Netherlands has changed over the years, and a passionate plea for humanity. The play is a touching, critical and humorous portrait of a young generation in a country where the refugee policy changed drastically in the last twenty years. The dynamics between us and them is a constant and important issue in daily life. The production was selected for the Dutch Theatre Festival in 2015 and was among the eleven best performances of the season 2014–2015.
Daria Bukvić’s (Tuzla, 1989) mother is a Bosnian Muslim woman and her father a Catholic Croat. Because of the outbreak of the Yugoslav civil war Daria fled with her mother to the Netherlands in 1992. They have spent two years in a refugee centre before they got a permanent residency. Bukvić grew up in a village in Limburg, where she soon discovered her love for the theatre. At 17, she applied for the directing programme of the Theatre Academy in Maastricht where she obtained her diploma in 2011. Since then Bukvić directed all kind of theatre plays for Frascati Productions, Parade festival, Hofplein Rotterdam, Toneelschuur Producties, and many more.
As described on her website, Tinkebell provokes by exemplifying the blind spots of modern society. She confronts a public that revels in being indignant about everything that has nothing to do with them, but at the same time is very apologetic about their own actions. She questions why millions of male chicks are brutally killed every day, but she gets arrested for threatening to do the same in public. Why are people who openly discuss the lowering of the sexual age of consent treated as vile pedophiles, but are ‘barely 18’ websites intensely popular?
In 2004 she turned her own cat into a handbag, while she tries to show people their own hypocrisy about the use of animals for consumption and leather production. Outcry from the online world followed. Blogs and activist sites published stories about the atrocity she had committed. In the first few days that the story went online, more than 40,000 unique visitors visited her website and her mailbox was flooded with violent threats and death wishes. So she became an expert in the negative site of social media and tried to find out how to deal with it: she tried to find the people behind them. By publishing the book Dearest Tinkebell (2009), she no longer is just the receiver of all this faceless anger, but takes charge in responding to it.
From there on she created several projects about the blind spots of the modern society. The project Save the World deals with this clash of cultures. The need to help people, to pamper our own ego without communication with those that are in need.
Katinka Simonse (Goes, 1979), also known as Tinkebell, is a Dutch artist who engages with issues around our morals and the way society is developing. She graduated at the design department of the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam in 2005. Later this year she will publish Waarschuwing: de schrijver van dit boek is kunstenaar – Tinkebell (Warning: this book is written by an artist – Tinkebell), a publication based on her visit to Idomeni, a Greek city where many Syrian refugees are located.
“But what is the difference between thinking and thinging? Thinking is just the thin king.”
David Bernstein combines performance, sculpture, and writing to tell stories through objects. He practices thinging, a back-and-forth process of thinking and making things. When exhibiting or performing, he tries to create an intimate space of hospitality. Bernstein is driven by obsessions such as spatulas and Fiat Multiplas. Some other themes he explores are: imaginative play, stars, language games, air, transcendental joy, rituals, abstraction, absurdism, simultiplaneous phenomena, zenwacky, loopholes, having fun and being together with others.
About the coming performance at the KABK: “I am not addressing directly the idea of good or bad in humanity, but am interested in togetherness. How can we find ways of being together when we don’t agree, when we have different interests, or even when we are violent to each other? What new situations of togetherness can we create and how can we recognize togetherness when we don’t realize it’s already present? How can language and playing with language open up a space to think differently about these issues? The performance is made by a transcendental Texas cosmic cowboy named Slim Denken (Smart Thinking).”
David Bernstein, (San Antonio, 1988) moved to Amsterdam in 2011 to pursue his masters at the Sandberg institute and after that he started a residency at the Jan van Eyck academy. He had a solo exhibition at Gallery van Gelder in Amsterdam in 2015 under the title Zenwacky. Earlier, in 2014, he did the performance There are always at least two ways of looking through a loophole at Walden affairs in The Hague.
La Madre, il Figlio e l’Architetto (The Mother, the Son and the Architect) is a short film about a church in the form of a sphere in Gibellina, a town in Sicily that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1968 and was reconstructed in the 1980s. The church is designed by Ludovico Quaroni, an Italian architect. He’s the father of Emilio – a past lover of Petra Noordkamp – who killed his mother some years after their first encounter.
“During Noordkamp’s search for Emilio, the move that takes her to the church designed by Ludovico Quaroni – although prompted in part by chance – is as practical as it is inescapable. The multiple absence, caused by love, death, crime, madness, distance and incomprehension, that permeates all these relationships, as diverse as they are interrelated, surely could not be transformed into an experience anywhere better than in Quaroni’s church in Sicily. The questions are no longer why Emilio killed his mother, why his father built this church, or how Petra Noordkamp can still be interested in him. The questions have become more general, more important, spatial and visual. Or rather: instead of answering these questions, architecture creates the framework within which they can be asked in the best possible way.”
— Christophe van Gerrewey, Foamcahier, June 2012
Petra Noordkamp (Losser, 1967) studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Her film La Madre, il Figlio e l’Architetto got its premiere at Foam in 2012 and after that it was shown in various places around the world, including Tehran, Rome, Porto and Budapest. In 2014 she was commissioned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York to make a short film to capture the Grande Cretto, a landart work by the Italian artist Alberto Burri. This film was in the last year part of exhibitions at K21 in Düsseldorf, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the MAXXI in Rome. Her work has been published in many magazines and newspapers such as San Rocco Magazine, Club Donny, The Purple Journal, Volkskrant Magazine, NRC Handelsblad and Avenue. At the moment she is working on a new short film about the experimental éco-quartier Eva-Lanxmeer in Culemborg, the Netherlands.
Is a Refrigerator Good or Evil? The Moral Evaluation of Everyday Objects is a research publication from Springer Science + Business Media. De Jong based his second solo exhibition Court of Justice at Fons Welters Gallery in Amsterdam on this research. The show is a peculiar fusion of a courtroom and a prison. As the title of the exhibition already indicates, De Jong focuses specifically on elements of justice; from the hierarchical design of courtrooms, to the psychological manipulation of juries, the theatricality surrounding a judgement and the following isolation. Who is summoned to court? And who is to judge?
Although Folkert de Jong is known for his often grotesque-looking, human sized figurative sculptures, this time the eccentric character has been replaced by a clinical feeling of oppression. His use of material was mostly focussed on contemporary, often non-recyclable materials like Styrofoam. But recently he has broadened his material palette by adding transparent Plexiglas vitrines, enclosing foam assemblages of objects and body parts. As if they are preserved in formaldehyde. De Jong has also collaborated with radiologists in Utrecht, to create an M. R. I. scan of his head, which he has used to make a holographic 3-D image of his skull. Except from this hologram, the human figure disappeared in De Jong’s Court of Justice. While De Jong has represented immoral human behavior in previous works, he now questions the morality of things themselves. Can an object be intrinsically good or bad? Could an item be put to trial?
Folkert de Jong (Egmond aan Zee, 1972) lives and works in Amsterdam. Through his sculptures, cultural symbols and (historical) figures are transformed into theatrical narrative tableaux, addressing themes of war, greed, history and power. His work arises from a strong fascination for the psychological and bodily human condition. De Jong exhibited worldwide, recent solo exhibitions include Hominid Lands, Musee d’Evreux (2015); The Holy Land, Hepworth Wakefield (2014 – 2015); Amabilis insania. The pleasing delusion, Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2013) and Actus Tragicus, Mudam, Luxembourg (2013).
In an interview with the VPRO Rikko Voorberg commented on the concept of concern: “For those who have much to lose in power or money, this time can be disconcerting. But for those who have nothing, it is a time of vibrating hope.”
He continues: “There is a classic text: ‘You are in the world, but not of the world.’ But I have to take distance from these words. It’s been a long road to realise that I want to embrace this world. I want to be here. Simply, in this world it needs to happen. As a young Reformed boy I used to think that sin was something as premarital sex or to buy clothes on Sunday. But that’s what I call moralism today. Sin is a pattern in our society, in our human behaviour. To jeopardize what is weak is always evil, we have to learn to share our food, to be conscious about where our clothing comes from.”
Voorberg initiated the Popup Church, a weekly celebration on Sunday with unchurched creatives in Amsterdam-West, with brunch, bread, wine, silence, texts and conversations. This initiative is spreading to other cities like Rotterdam, Arnhem and The Hague. “Every week we begin again and again to realize another world, where we are sharpened by the ideas and actions of the early Christian church.”
Voorberg was one of the initiators of the so called Vluchtkerk, Church of Refuge. In 2014 a vacant church was squatted for a group of demonstrating asylum-seekers, who were labelled illegal by the government. We have to take our responsibilities.
Rikko Voorberg (Kampen, 1980) is a writer, theologian, church pioneer, and performance artist. He studied theology in Kampen and refers to himself as “a theologian in the wild”; always looking for a new understanding of our humanity by exploring the ideas of Christianity together with artists, creatives and unbelievers. Together with Martijn Horsman he wrote the book The Manipulator, lessons in winning and losing with recognizable themes such as longing, nostalgia, emptiness and uncertainty. At the moment he is finalizing his book De dominee leert vloeken, een pleidooi voor woede (How a pastor learned to curse, a plea for anger) that will be published in October.
The scene is set like a white box sliced open, with walls that taper narrowly inwards. Walls that are nearly too white – fluorescent, almost. “An abstract space that forms a limitless chasm between imagination and reality,” is written in the theatre programme. Toneelgroep Amsterdam is performing a modern version of Medea.
Anna, played by Marieke Heebink, returns home from a stay in a psychiatric hospital. After discovering her husband’s infidelity, she adds a small amount of poison to his food every day. But that was then. She is determined to do better this time, to pick up the pieces and bring her family back together. There was love once, it couldn’t possibly have disappeared completely. We follow Anna’s obsessive thoughts, we learn of the sacrifices that make her husband’s betrayal unacceptable. But she starts feeling cornered when those around her don’t follow her ideas. She is about to lose everything she has. Jet black flakes fall down around her, gathering ominously on the floor. Meanwhile, her sons unexpectedly appear all over the place, camera in hand, shooting an intimate home movie for a school assignment.
Medea was written by Euripides in 431 BC. The Greek tragedy tells of Medea, who uses her sorcery to help Jason escape. But when he leaves her for a king’s daughter, she cannot bear her grief. She murders their children, the father and his lover. Revenge.
Director Simon Stone based his Medea on a true story that holds each of these ingredients: the case of Deborah Green, a woman who murdered her husband, his lover, and her own sons. Stone states: “I think the theatre may be the most important contemporary art form. Where else do people come together to communally experience and contemplate? Theatre is possibly the best medium through which to comprehend Medea’s decisions.”
Stone’s Medea is like a long stay inside a freezer. It seems inconceivable for a woman to murder her children, the ultimate incomprehensible evil. Yet we read about this sort of family drama time and time again. An evil that has been on repeat for thousands of years.
During a lecture in 2013, Rico Sneller discusses the book The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Little, in which a Nazi officer writes about the murders he has committed:“Should we understand political mass murders such as committed by The Kindly Ones’ narrator? How about Littell’s literary attempt to do so? As already suggested above, this question presupposes that we can understand them, for the impossibility of understanding would deprive the question of its sense.”
Don’t we live understanding lives?
“The desire to understand is a prominent feature of our Western culture. And while modern science tries to understand natural phenomena, contemporary hermeneutics attempts to understand and interpret human expression. On the one hand we can ask ourselves if evil can be fathomed, while on the other hand we can wonder if it should be. Because wouldn’t understanding evil amount to justifying it?”
Rico Sneller suggests we take a different approach to the matter of whether or not we should understand. “I would like to question the inevitability of understanding as an all-encompassing approach of consciousness.” he says.
But the extent of our understanding does not cover the entire mechanisms of human behaviour, nor does it fully include the space of what Rico Sneller has termed the uncanny. We cannot fully reach these dimensions, until we experience them ourselves, because there are no adequate means whatsoever of understanding them. Not yet. “But the horizon of sense and human understanding are always looming”, writes Sneller.
This year’s programme, Dark Water, considers the question of whether man is good or bad by nature and how your answer to this question affects your attitude to life. How far are you willing to go to understand the other? Where do we draw the line? And how does religion view good and evil? What can a person do to be a good human being, and what does that mean?
Head of Studium Generale
The Studium Generale is a programme that hovers, as it were, over the departments: it addresses themes that may not have an immediate practical use, but are potentially relevant to each and every student. It aims to introduce students to fields that aren’t directly addressed within their own course such as theatre, philosophy, poetry, film, sociology, invention, science, or a combination of these subjects. It is, more or less, a semi-theoretical programme to help you assess your own work from a different perspective and to draw inspiration from other fields of knowledge. The Studium Generale is a gift to the students: specially for them, famous actors, photographers, scientists, and many others will visit the academy to deliver a lecture on their professional field, ending in a discussion open to all.
Each student’s work is fuelled by the impulses surrounding him or her by the society they live in, and it’s important to gain an understanding of this environment from which you can distill your own unique interests and determine your own position. Especially for artists, it’s imperative to see beyond the borders of your specific professional field, to open yourself up to the grand and unorthodox thoughts of others and to integrate these with your own ideas. The Studium Generale hopes to break down barriers between departments and initiate collaborations to pave the way for groundbreaking new ideas. To do so, the Studium Generale works closely with each department to complement and broaden their existing programmes.
Studium Generale is brought to you by Hanne Hagenaars and Jeannette Slütter
Hanne Hagenaars — Head of programme
Jeannette Slütter — Coordinator