Tag Archives: 2006

a conversation with (Dan Perjovschi)

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In 2006 I interviewed Dan Perjovschi, for the Dutch art magazine Metropolis M. To be perfectly honest, I had a tough time getting started with it, primarily because I’m a huge fan of Dan, and of his work. You’d think that would have made things easy. In the end, I think it did.

I’ll let you be the judge. Read it here.

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/

The Pearl

At the first meeting Marco asked about the ‘Pearls of venserpolder’. I can’t remember what some people’s pearls were (the inner courtyards was one if I recall correctly), but I don’t think the artist of Dumaslaan was mentioned.

When An first took me on her rounds, she mentioned something about a woman who decorated her vestibule, and left recipes for various dishes on her door. To be honest, I didn’t think much about it (negative or positive) .

Later that day we happened to be passing by the building of the woman, and An took me in to show me her door/vestibule. I was impressed, if for no better reason than the fact that it was allowed to remain, when everything else in the stairwells was so heavily regulated. An had never met the woman who lived behind the door, but asked if I’d like to meet her. I thought – why not?

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An buzzed the door, and the owner opened it. An introduced herself, and we complimented her on her work. While she was speaking to An I found myself peeking through the crack of the door, trying to sneak a look inside. Not very respectful, or Dutch, but hey, I’m not Dutch. Maybe the woman noticed, because she invited us in to her place.

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The textured globs on the wall are Mihoen Noodles.

I felt like Charlie in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory – she had turned just about everything in the apartment into a work of art: from the refrigerator, to the bathroom, to her wardrobe… When she wasn’t painting, or making sculptures, she was making clothing. All very amazing.

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An admiring the clothes.

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Portrait of the artist wearing one of her creations.

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

some first impressions

Howdy out there.

Apologies for the lack of news. The blog went ‘live’ just before I left NL for a brief trip, and I managed to catch a nasty cold just when I got back. Whatever…

What is there to tell so far? Not as much as I would hope. I’ve had some great days walking around the VP with An van Gelder, on various rondjes van venserpolder. I basically tagged along, as she did her job as Wijkmeester. It was a way to not only get a feeling for the neighborhood (I won’t be getting lost there now), but also the variety of architecture involved, or more specifically the various stairwells/storage spaces.

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Art & An at work.

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one of the sweet smelling entrances to the basement storage areas.

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i saw some interesting things, like the texts we saw on the ‘wandel’ after our first meeting.

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and some other interesting tidbits, like this stack of religious books. guess someone lost their faith?

An set up a few meetings, or brought me along when she had to see someone, which has led to some interesting chats. I’ve met Emmy, the ‘Queen of Venserpolder’, which was, not surprisingly, an experience. Of the admittedly few apartments I’ve been to in the neighborhood, Emmy’s wins the de Pijp/Jordan authenticity prize. I felt like I was on the Bloemgracht. It didn’t take long to realized how Emmy came to earn her nickname. She seems to have a grasp of most of the local politics, and is not afraid to share her opinion. She was open to the project, and we had plans to meet tomorrow (Nov 14th) with some other members of the Neighborhood Association, but unfortunately she canceled. Not quite sure why.

Through An I’ve also met Talita, who’s also another highly active member of the community. I had my dossier with me when I met Talita, and was showing her some of my work, when a past project involving shopping baskets came up. She then told me all about the hats that women in Suriname wear, and how you tie the bow in the back will reveal various thing, like whether you’re married or not.

Another one of my visits was to the studio/home of Fritz, who is an artist in a woon/werk studio in the VP. An, Fritz, and I ended up having a long talk about painting and contemporary art, as well as the neighborhood.

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So far, the one recurrent theme I’ve picked up on venserpolder is that people come, people go, and that one of the benefits of living there is how easy it is to leave. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

So, that’s a start. I’ve met more folk, and seen a few more things, but perhaps I should cut this off here.

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