Daily Archives: February 7, 2009

Some of the sights we saw (Alabama)

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Our car, a 2007 class C Toyota Corolla, aka the “General Lee”.

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Entrance gates to the Alabama Confederate Memorial Park.

Nope, we were not in Georgia.

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Some of the people we met (in Alabama)

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Charles and Kerstin speaking with Clayton Colvin, artist and curator of Space 301, Mobile.

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Mindi Shapiro and Brett Levine, Director of the UAB Visual Arts Gallery, Birmingham.

originally posted on http://heartland.vanabbe.nl/

Some of the people we met (in New Orleans)

Charles in conversation with Willy Birch

Charles in conversation with Willie Birch.

Dawn

Kerstin and Dawn DeDeaux.

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Rocking at the Spinnewiel

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Last night members of the Venserpolder community met up at the Spinnewiel, to hear all about parking in the neighborhood, the latest on the Milieupolitie policies, some thoughts about the neighborhood from Venserpolders very own Talita Koen, have a few drinks, and take part in a sing along.

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It was an impressive turnout.

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Officer Sander Blomme and Venserpolder Wijkmeester Art

While I can try to write a bit about what was said in the interviews, I won’t. Partly because I forgot most of what was said, and partly because I couldn’t understand all that was said. My Dutch tends to shut off when someone explains the intricacies of where your car goes when it’s been towed.

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Housing Corporation representatives, as well as local police were introduced.

The highlight, for me, and what looked like everyone else, was a woman who performed for the crowd (who’s name I unfortunately never heard properly, so hopefully someone can leave a ‘comment’ and I can credit her).

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The audience waits

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And are rewarded for their patience

She came out in costume, with an exaggerated posterior, and chest, with a wig, and to accentuate the fact that she was integrated into Dutch culture, a pair of clogs. Then she started to work the crowd, singing songs about ‘Integratie’ and ‘Communicatie’, all very appropriate for the project.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the ‘Communicatie’ song on video (I forgot that I had that option on my digital camera). I did manage to get this on camera, so here you go:

Once the singing was done, it was time to start serving the drinks, and getting on with the chat.

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A blank page – the night must have been a success

originally posted on http://ozonieuws.blogspot.com/

Meeting Points

Considering that the Venserpolder is an urban neighborhood, there’s a surprisingly small amount of communal spaces for people to meet and socially engage with one other. From what I’ve been able to see, there’s the stores and snack bars in the ‘shopping district’, the Spinnewiel, and Boeninhuis, and the odd Apotheek.

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It seems that the Super deBoer supermarket is the most vital meeting point in the neighborhood. Using such objective data as my eyeballs, it appears that the supermarket is the one meeting point that everyone in the neighborhood goes to.

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While the residents can take the daily opportunity to meet, and chat, at the Super deBoer, they also have the occasional chance to meet up at the Spinnewiel on Dickenslaan, or the Boeninhuis, inside the courtyard on Barbusselaan.

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I suppose I know a little bit more about the Spinnewiel, simply because of the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time with An and Art and that’s where their main office is. The Spinnewiel hosts ‘spreekuur’, or visiting hour, on Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday. The spreekuur gives the residents the opportunity to pay a visit, inform the Wijkmeesters about any particular problems that they may be having, or just pass by for a cup of coffee.

Apart from the home base for the Wijkmeesters, the Spinnewiel hosts various initiatives and get togethers for the community, like drinks/borrels (of which there will be one tomorrow night, at 19:00), or on Wednesday afternoons, where Emmy Wijngaard, one of the more active residents of the Venserpolder, runs a kind of daycare program for kids in the neighborhood.

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The Boeninhuis hosts spreekuuren on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have yet to spend much time there, so my knowledge of what happens there is still pretty limited. Once I get the keys to the ‘studio’ space, I hope to spend some time between 4-7 PM, when Gilbert Hamel runs his workshop with the kids in the Neighborhood.

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originally posted on http://ozonieuws.blogspot.com/

The Mysterious Number 1

When I was cycling around the neighborhood, taking photographs of the public art in Venserpolder, I noticed that a building on the corner of Dotojeveskisingel and Dantestraat had an enormous number 1 painted on the corner of the building.

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The corner of Dotojeveskisingel and Defoelaan

I wasn’t sure if this was also some other form of public art/mural painting, or more likely that it was meant to label the building, like I had seen previously in South Korea, where the Stalinistic apartment blocks seem to require numbers painted on the sides so that the residents can tell which one is home. The simple fact that it was the only building in the neighborhood with a number on made me a little curious.

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Apartment blocks in Gwangju, South Korea

Today, while doing a walk around the Venserpolder with Art, I asked him what it was for. Sure enough, that was Block 1. Mystery solved, except that he wasn’t sure how Blocks 2, 3, 4, etc avoided being numbered.

originally posted on http://ozonieuws.blogspot.com/

Public Art in the Venserpolder

During my walks around the Venserpolder with An, I was introduced as the Kunstmeester , or the Art Master to the residents who didn’t speak Dutch. It was kind of odd having a random title like that thrown on you, but if it made her job as Wijkmeester any easier, I was happy to go along with it.

The whole concept of a Kunstmeester in the Venserpolder is, if truth be told, slightly odd. By my count, there’s 3 works of public art in the neighborhood. Out of curiosity I did some checking, and discovered that there was at least one, to two, more works that I hadn’t seen, or had forgotten.

The public art there falls under the old school, modernist “let’s stick something on a pedestal, or just make it big and plant it here, and please, please, please – no content” genre. None really seem to have any connection or engagement with the neighborhood, the location, or the people living there, and to make matters worse – none of them have any real aesthetic appeal.

Along the Christiesingel there’s a semi-circle rock. I don’t know who the artist is, or when it was made. It’s a roughly chiseled stone sitting on top of a concrete pedestal, with some decorative supports.

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Then there’s the ‘boats’. I’m not 100% sure if this is a public work of art, or a piece of landscape architecture. There’s some boat shapes, reminiscent of Renzo Piano’s Nemo Museum, made out of brick, coming up, or sinking into, the grass, along the canal.

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In the middle of the Dotojeveskisingel is a boat in the canal, with grass/trees/vegetation growing out of it.

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If anyone knows who’s responsible for either works, could you let me know?

Now, moving along, there’s the “Sail’, which is how An referred to it, if I recall correctly. I was able to find some info on the work , and discovered that it’s 1990 piece by Jos Kokke. Apparently Kokke was referring to the obelisks in Paris, because he felt that the streets of the Venserpolder were reminiscent to the wide boulevards of the city of light. He got one thing right – the streets in the Venserpolder are wide.

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Then there’s the two pieces I have yet to see. One is in/at the Venserpolder Metro station, a work by Michel Somers. I suppose I missed it because I ride my bike to the Venserpolder, instead of taking the metro. The piece has a Smith, caro, minimalist aesthetic, which isn’t a great surprise considering that it’s from 1979. I’ll refrain from further comment, mostly because I haven’t seen it with my own two eyes.

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The other ‘work’, which I found on the amsterdamzuidoost.net website is in a playground , at the Basisschool de Schakel, on Dumaslaan. Apparently it’s from 1985, and the artist’s name is E. van Lopik. The author on the website wasn’t sure if it was art or not. I can understand . That’s about all I know about it, I’m afraid.

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So, that’s a brief recap of past artists endeavors in the Venserpolder. I think it’s fairly obvious that none of us will be planting a modernist sculpture along a canal, or in one for that matter, but I thought it was still good to know.

originally posted on http://ozonieuws.blogspot.com/