Rough Diamonds from the North

The project of searching for stories in the Nieuwendam borough in Amsterdam North came to an end in the form of an exhibition entitled Rough Diamonds. Together with photographer Ed Bosland, I strolled across the streets of Nieuwendam for months in search of some hidden glitters, to dust of and show. We found that behind every door, window, garden fence, there were special people and stories tucked away. We made a newspaper 'De Nieuwendammer' and the expo 'Ruwe Diamanten', which was a storytelling exhibition with pictures, windowstories and a statue made of garbage books from Nieuwendam that revealed a poem by its book covers.

Read the paper here!

Monument for lost stories

What role do books still have? Are we going to read our children books in bed or will we read/ play our I-pads. Will books become like Vinyl towards Ipods/ mp3's. I found out ONLY in one 'recycle store' in the North f Amsterdam, already once a week 5 big blue containers with books get send to the paper demolisher. Cause nobody wants them. All these stories lost, turned into little pieces of paper, burned, destroyed. I am currently constructing an iglo of books as a monument for lost stories. I'll post it when ready...

Eavesdropping stories in Nieuwendam

As of now I am starting to spend some time as an artist/ writer in residence in Modestraat, Nieuwendam (North of Amsterdam). In this part of the city some 'broedstraten' (art breeding streets) are being set up. The plan is I walk around the streets as a shadow, eavesdropping typical Nieuwendam stories, meeting Nieuwendammers, possibly writing their biographies. Heck i might even search for the modern day myth of Nieuwendam and visualize it. The actual result will develop itself the coming months.

Nieuwendam is a very interesting neighbourhood, where some inhabtitants were born, raised and stayed there their whole life, some inhabitants are very new, not only to Nieuwendam but to the whole continent of Europe. Houses differ enormously: very old Dutch working class small and social housing projects, are combined with huge flats, and a dike with old traditional Dutch houses that were turned in million euro projects. There is lots of greenery, there are public sports installations in the street where grannies do their work-out, you can get your snacks at the supermarket or toko, there are lots of people who walk their pitbull while driving a scooter, there is an occaional stabbing in the streets (drugs, jealousy, crime), there are lots of singing birds, there are many enthousiastic children, there are elderly grey disappointed people, but also elderly gay happy people. I plan to hang around eavesdropping. And hope to hear Nieuwendam's stories and present them to you in a way that does them justice.

Hiding Places: The Dressing Room

[Aluminum framing / white cotton/ polyester curtains]

This piece is the third in the series Hiding Places: sheds/ shelters created for busy areas in the city. This white dressing room was placed on several spots on the busy Amsterdam Ten Kate market. It was documented in many pictures of which I am currently constructing a stop motion. The surrealistic white dressing room invoked very diverse reactions from the market people: laughter, anger, interest, agression etcetera. The more adventurous people entered or passed through it.

Hiding Places: Paradise Lost to the park

One night I moved Paradise Lost, the Hiding Place, from its exhibition room and placed it in the park. I had choosen the busiest spot in Amsterdam's Westerpark so if visitors there would need a moment for themselves to hide away from the crowd they could. The shed (being there illegally) stayed for a week and was used intensively by children, lovers and clochards. After a week it was taken away.

Hiding Places: Paradise Lost

[Wood/ Green Plastic/ earth/ plants/ animals/ glow in the dark paint/ artificial grass/ pokon]

This green elliptical shaped shed is made from wood, covered with green underfloor material. The roof is a humid garden box filled with moist earth and lush plants. This shed is one in a series of Hiding Places I want to place in Amsterdam’s public space at its busiest areas, where people might want to seek shelter and experience some reflexion. Overexposure of … everything is making society suffer and I want to offer astonishing hiding places, where people can withdraw. I hope I can turn this project into a co-creation with other artists: when funding will allow that to happen.

Hiding Places: Paradise Lost

The story about the Hiding Place
[white A4 papers/ printer inkt]

Here is the text on Paradise Lost I wrote accompanying the paradisiacal Hiding place I made that was exhibited on the group exhibition Ring The Alarm in august 2011, together with Narouz Moltzer, Laser 3.14, Jay Sunsmith and Wonder Allen-Smith. After the exhibition I moved the Hiding Place at night to the busiest area of Westerpark in Amsterdam.

And the text:

In hiding

So paradise = lost
So I am not the first person who thinks of these words nor who has had these thoughts
So did you ever read the books Paradise Lost, by John Milton?
So…. this was stated in the 17h century and now:
Are we now more lost?
But I wanted to start this text with the word vagina, so
So adult vaginas need to be bold now – to be
So communication needs to be constantly flowing
in Facebooks
So books are now faces
So faces are fake and botoxed or retouched
So reading is reduced to one-liners
So speaking is cut down to chitterchatterchitttertwitter
So content is constantly overruled by appearance
So age discrimination is growing as is the
average of world citizens
So friends are counted in amounts on profile pages
So Jews don’t dare to wear their keppels anymore
in former Jewish Mokum
I repeat in former Jewish Mokum
So gays don’t hold hands anymore in former gay
capital Amsterdam
So sound systems on open air hiphop festivals have
volume limits
So limits are lost
So strange is not beautiful anymore
So exceptions are no rule
So fathers in Caribbean culture are still praised by
many of their mates for their fertility
So no one asks what it means to be a father
So is it a sign of male superiority to have 6 kids
with 6 different women
(and not support . nourish. or educate 1 of them)
So do these women need to be father and mother
all in one
So is no one really ringing the alarm on that
So does society look down on these women saying
they called it upon themselves
So is it alright to let rappers be naming women
Ho’s. And sluts
So is everybody calling everybody Nigga, allright?
I repeat does anyone really knows Nigga meaning
Negro coming from…. Yes.
That part of history. 1 of the many parts of history
we just choose to swallow down
So are we happy now?
So do we teach our children what love could be
like – what sex could be like
Or do we rely on porno to teach the lessons
So 16 year old girls want to have vagina operations
cause ‘theirs’ don’t look like the ones in the movies
So do we think it is harmless to locate coffee shops
besides secondary schools
So do we choose to not take a thorough look at our
children and see where the red eyes and their
vagueness comes from.
To let our children drown in their own
adolescent problems and have them throw away possibilities like dirty toilet paper
So don’t we really look at and try to understand
our children
Or are we too busy divorcing each other
So do we not protest when we let senseless
politicians murder the Arts
So are we interested in the fact these politicians
listen to heavy metal
And did not read books
So does any of us still read books
So do we care?
So health care is now a product
So what is not a product in the world today?
So do we want to be able to purchase and achieve
And neglect nature
So do we want to have mothers to have their first
babies at 43 just cause
we can manipulate nature by fertilization
So even nature is commercialized
So do we not respect the natural growth, rise and
fall of things anymore
So do we think it’s ok to get high on subsidized
project money
So do we feel better behind our flat screen
televisions and in our microwaved wifi houses
So do we feel beautiful behind botoxed smiles
So is work important to us, to pay the bills
What bills? What work?
So what do we need – really really need - to feel
useful and important
So what do we feel we want to leave behind – if
leaving something behind
Is what you need to do to feel useful
So may I recall E. Badu singing she creates: music
melodies babies
(So do you think it is a coincidence Amy, Kurt, Jimi,
Janis, all died being 27)
So what is love?
Was love better before? Back in the days when
children met each other at the local carnival and
stayed ‘happily’ married for 50 years..
So did we forget to work for love, or do we want to
bring it back to the store if it
And get our money back
So do things happen for a reason?
So is your life predestined and can you not
influence your destiny
So are churches empty cause we cannot see god
anymore (I mean he’s not on Facebook right?)
So what is the new church, the new religion
Do we need 1 (or 2, why not 3?)
So what do you see when you walk the streets of
Happy faces?
So who takes care of you? So who are you taking
care of?
So do you feel part of a community?
What is your community like?
Are you helping people around you? Are there any
unhappy people around you
Look around you
When did you last think of someone else
Are you thinking of someone else now?
When did you last help - really help someone
So do you think it is important to not only live for
Why not?
So are there any values in your life that you could
So could you describe them and teach others
So what? Are you the new Jesus or something..?
(are you already irritated by so many questions
and no answers and are you about to stop reading
and sigh)
Never in my Wordland could there be ways to
reveal how I feel
So where do you go to when you’re sad?
So what do you do when your heart is broken
Do you know the feeling that you have soooo many
feelings locked inside
That they make you feel claustrophobic inside your
own body
And that you are seriously considering an Out Of
Body Experience
So where is your hiding place?
What when there would be hiding places
So that when you stroll through Schiphol and you
suffer from the pressure
You can just hide
Or when you are locked down inside the
Nieuwendijk in this stream of consumers
you can just run and hide
Where would you run and hide? What would it look
So ....
So where is our hiding place
Secret shelters are needed
SO go hide.

Fish Film

A film about fish-people. I made it in Piskadera Bay, Curacao may 2011. It forms part of the Paradise Lost series. I am planning to visualize the surrealistic other side of Carribean paradise Curacao and Bonaire. Bonaire being an all natural island it is protected: mankind may officially not interfere here any longer as is stated in many laws. Therefore here you can still find traces of paradise, although... Curacao is a paradise lost, in my eyes. There are almost no public beaches anymore. All nature is been taken by Hotel chains. Drugs are flooding the island as is money. Big villas are deserted when the drug criminals are being lifted off their beds by the narcotic police. Leaving another lush garden deserted and overgrown. Only under water swimming with the fish, you could come close to the idea of paradise. Becoming Fish people.

Paradise Lost

[Photography/ simple prints/ glued in corner of room at Tiny Little Art Collective expo]

These corner pictures form part of a body of work containing pictures, an installation and a short movie entitled Paradise Lost. My family lives in Curacao in the Dutch Antilles. The islands seem happy sunny and like paradise to many of the visitors but many sad stories and undivine secrets are kept under these palm trees. I tried to capture the tension of these stories in my images. The pictures of the empty pool are from a neighboring villa that was left a year before I took them cause the owner got shot in a drug crime.

Tears on Pavement

[Pile of paving stones/ Indian black soapstone/ little Led light]

Monument for all tears that fell on pavement, from lonely single mother’s eyes. I raise 2 sons alone and when I gave birth to my second the father had already left. During some months my grief was enormous and walking the streets behind a baby stroller alone I searched for the eyes of other lonely mothers behind the strollers and i knew for sure we all left these dampy traces of salty fluids on pavement. This work is for them. The mothers and their tears.

Tears [installation]

[Iron / 36 bags of water drip containing physiological salts / nonwoven gauze / grandma’s soup pan/ 2 books with sad poems/ a drawing and the artists eye]

This installation was made from hospital materials from the Amsterdam Lucas Andreas hospital and exhibited on their website, and on the opening night of Tiny Little Art Collective Gallery in the summer of 2011. Some bags were dripping salty water slowly in grandmothers pan and people wrote words on tears on the wall in a guest book.

Fish Faces

[Birch / primary cyan acrylic paint/ white alabast stone]

People are like fish. When i swim my ritual rounds in the Marnixbad I see wide open mouths, big fat heavy fish, who recklessly push all swimmers aside, tiny little seethrough skins, macho fishes,like sharks, and so forth. I made some Fish/ fish people inspired sculptures.

Portraits on tree trunks in the woods

[Portraits installation: Belgium hardstone/ Tanzanian soapstone/ birch/ fluo red acrylic spray paint]

Faces in the crowd are diverse as trees and plants in a forest. They can be angry, silent, peaceful, kind or funny. I would want to place my portrait in the woods, just like that. Tree trunks as their necks.

Portraits: Empty Head

[African soapstone (Tanzania) / birch / fluorescent red acrylic paint spray]

Portraits: Multiple Personality

[Belgium hardstone/ birch/ fluorescent red paint]
Portrait of the multiple personality that can come together in one person.