Proof of Love, by Hanne Hagenaars

07.06.2014 – by Hanne Hagenaars

Anyone who wants to marry their foreign sweetheart must see the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) to arrange the proper papers. The IND decides whether the residency permit is issued and in practice, they’re never generous or warm and welcoming. Now, as it turns out, some departments have employed the peculiar practice of demanding a proof of love in these cases. ????? Yes. A proof of love.What do you send the official in this case? The roses have long since wilted, the intimate conversations on the telephone never recorded, but maybe you’ve managed to keep a few text messages. And what will the official accept as proof? He might just find that the lovely photograph you took of your love as the exact OPPOSITE to proof of love. The proof of love has no other function: it can’t be used a as proof of lack of love. Still, the IND demands it.

Andy Warhol, 5 Deaths

The Dutch news once broadcast images of a man who had crashed through his ex-lovers window into her living room. “I love her!” he declared to the whole of Holland. And she’d left him. And he had loved her.

A similar train of thought arises in the documentary La 10ième Chambre (2004) by Raymond Depardon. Karim Toulbia is called to court after his ex-wife presses charges against him. After seven years of abuse, she finally succeeds in escaping him and building her own life. But the man refuses to accept this, he threatens her, even threatening the boss she works for. It’s a terrible but familiar story. And so the lawyer begins his plea: “These private cases, they’re always tough! (…)(…)(…) Karim took a great step today. This is something WE’RE never proud of. (We, men, is what the lawyer means!) I, too, have handled myself poorly at times (POORLY handled?) You see, men are a bit dumber in this sense than women.”

Ryan Trecartin

The lawyer then proceeds to explain the only mitigating circumstance he can come up with. My client is a man. And sure enough, his argument later goes to say: “What once was love transforms into something as hideous as hate. If only hate and love were not so very intertwined,” he sighs. A chasm between lovers. His argument revives the idea of the age old crime passionel. It might be murder, but it’s out of love.

Wu Junyong, End of the World

How in god’s name do you convince your lover of your love? It’s simple at the start with flowers, letters, text messages. It happens all on its own, the current carries itself. But it’s at that inevitable moment where the fluttering of butterflies begins to wane. It’s the moment where the state of love is suddenly read backwards, like the denting of a lid, like mirror writing. You can lie desperately on the street in front of her house, shave your head, or write her fifty text messages: it will only work against you. Every piece of evidence you produce will only irritate rather than convince. You’re powerless in trying to summon the love-struck gaze of the other, no, there’s no point. It might sometimes resurface, other times it disappears again. It’s never completely easy. So, shall we send the IND that photo of us where we’re both laughing somewhat sourly, but where at least we’re together?

Scene from Godard’s Le Mepris (Contempt)

Disappearance Holes, by Yeb Wiersma

03.05.2015 – by Yeb Wiersma

“Squat down with both feet pressed together so that the current will not be able to travel up one leg and down the other,” Frank Lane, who I’ve just encountered within the vast terrain of Google, a landscape in which I often gladly immerse myself. He continues, “the deadliest lightning bolt enters through the head and finds its way to the ground via the heart.” I look at the image of a man holding flag a pole struck by lightning and see a star shaped scorch mark. The imprint on the grassy lawn looks like a jagged chalk drawing of veins branching out. Lane compiled the book, The Elements of Rage, and like me, is fascinated with nature’s violence. I read about cloud formations, turbulent dust storms, and whirlwinds: when a tornado is at the brink of settling down, it will often form a long, slender, thread-like cloud travelling horizontally, writhing onwards until it eventually dissipates.”

 

Was it W.G. Sebald who advised the budding writer to observe the weather and describe it in detail, preferably every day, as an exercise in perception? As a means to get a grip on the atmosphere of a narrative? I glide into the next page describing the processes that create lightning, “perhaps the most peculiar is ball lightning, a fiery sphere of light outlined by a hazy contour, that follows an erratic and slow path through the skies. It typically causes no damage, not by electric shock nor through heat. But it is typically unpredictable and can disappear as swiftly as it appears.”

The forces of nature as the fierce creator of volatile, elusive sculptures that leave no one untouched. Her works disturb, seduce, are never vain, lazy, or frightened. When necessary she will destroy everything, including her own oeuvre, to make way for a rigorous transformation that will changes the status quo.

In the meantime, I move through unfamiliar territory. In the corner of my eye, I catch sight of a video titled Mother Earth Network, Mysterious Holes. When I open the fragment, I see a woman seated at a rickety kitchen table in Guatemala city. She introduces herself as Inocenta Hernandez. Two TV journalists lean against her refrigerator. They ask her what exactly happened that night, there, under her bed. And did she knew she was living on the brink of a precipice?

Inocenta begins to tell her story: ‘There was a loud bang that awoke the whole street. People were walking around in their pyjamas in shock. Street dogs were growling. A boy was crying, he was naked. We thought it was a gas explosion at my place. I looked around my entire house but could find nothing unusual. When it was almost morning, I fell asleep feeling exhausted. The sun had already passed over the living room when I woke up. I stood up and spotted a shadow I’d never seen before, creeping out from underneath the bed. When I pushed the dresser aside, I thought my heart would stop: there it was! Oh, mother, mother! You nearly had me, you nearly swallowed me whole!”

Slowly, the camera pans away from her, and I follow the reporter to the bedroom where he’s confronted by a hole of approximately one metre wide and twelve metres deep. The man casts an intense gaze towards me and assures me that the inhabitant is incredibly lucky to not have tumbled into the gash torn into the ground. The fathomless hole is filmed. I see nothing, he continues to speak. “The city is plagued by spontaneous depressions in the landscape. These geological phenomena, also known as sinkholes, black holes, and disappearance holes result from natural erosion, which can occur gradually but can also happen abruptly and out of nowhere. Guatemala City, built on volcanic deposits, suffers from leaking sewers and heavy rainfall, making it prone to ruptures. During a short period of time, three-story buildings, homes, trucks, flower stalls, and people have disappeared from our streets without warning swallowed by the shuddering earth.”

I now stumble upon sink hole stories everywhere and examine them:

Swallowing houses, cars and people

Drama as bus sinks into crater

America’s most notorious sinkholes

Seoul couple disappears in freak hole

Sinking fast

Horse vanished down under
Ticking time bomb under N.M. Town

Girls fall into sidewalk

The house just fell through

It’s a dangerous world out there, and I just can’t get enough. Another one, then. In the swamps of the Bayou Corne in Louisiana I’m witness to a number of scraggly old cypress trees being swallowed by an underground lake at Peigneur. I follow them until I see their tree tops slowly disappear into the water. These slowly falling trees move me. The destructive power of the sink hole elicits a surreal sense of delight. They remind me of the possibility of spontaneously falling into darkness. That the ground that I walk upon is of a capricious nature. ’There’s no solid ground’, artist Louwrien Wijers told me recently when I asked her about the importance of mobility: “We have to learn to live with groundlessness.” Stay dangerous, elements, keeping hitting your head and find your way to the ground via the heart.

 

Pietas

27.05.2015 – by editorial staff

A pieta (from the Italian word ‘pieta’, meaning ‘compassion’) is an image of Mary grieving the deceased Jesus Christ. A desperate mother cradling her murdered son. The image remains recurrant in art today. We made a selection of images that we found particularly striking:

South West Pieta (Arizona)

 

vroege 14e eeuwse Pieta uit Duitsland

 

Venetie, op straat

 

Joseph Beuys, Pieta, 1952, steel relief with black patina

Stephan Balkenhol

 

Matthew Day Jackson

 

Jacques Frenken

 

Erzsébet Baerveldt: Pietà, 1992.

 

Jan Fabre

 

Poor Images, by Anna Hoetjes

06.06.2015 – by Anna Hoetjes

Hito Steyerl, a German artist and theorist, wrote an article in 2009 called ‘In defence of the poor image’. Poor images are the heavily compressed images that are available for everybody online. They are either the poor copy of a better, more professional original, or an image that was made by an amateur and was poor to begin with.

In the six years since then, the image quality of the average video on Youtube has gone up dramatically and so have the average consumer cameras, but there is still a difference between professionally produced commercial films seen in cinemas and the ones available online. How long this will remain the case is the question. But for now I think Seyerl’s argument remains interesting. I quote:

“Poor images [are] popular images—images that can be made and seen by the many. They express all the contradictions of the contemporary crowd: its opportunism, narcissism, desire for autonomy and creation, its inability to focus or make up its mind, its constant readiness for transgression and simultaneous submission. Altogether, poor images present a snapshot of the affective condition of the crowd, its neurosis, paranoia, and fear, as well as its craving for intensity, fun, and distraction.”

Film still ‘The Voices of Iraq’

You see these contradictions of the contemporary crowd continuing in today’s visual aesthetics. And in these aesthetics there is of course space for critique and experiment. Where again I would like to stress that experiment isn’t necessarily critical.

In 2004 a film was made called ‘the voices of Iraq’ in which US filmmakers gave 100 camera’s to Iraqi people, just after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Although the idea is given that many different viewpoints are voiced in this film, I would argue that this film is pure US propaganda. The democratisation of the camera is here symbolising the democracy that the US brought to Iraq, finally allowing people to speak freely.

Film still ‘The Voices of Iraq’

Steyerl speaks of this tendency of the resistance becoming part of the value system of capitalism. She uses the example of conceptual art, first resisting the fetish value of the object, which had become so valuable in the art world. But then, as value was dematerializing within capitalism on a larger scale, conceptual art fitted in perfectly and fetish value could be assigned to dematerial concepts just as well as to material objects. The same goes for the poor image:

“On the one hand, [the poor image] operates against the fetish value of high resolution. On the other hand, this is precisely why it also ends up being perfectly integrated into an information capitalism thriving on compressed attention spans, on impression rather than immersion, on intensity rather than contemplation, on previews rather than screenings.”

Transformers, The Premake

In the film ‘Transformers, The Premake’ we don’t only see the multiplication of the body and the multiplication of the camera, but also the multiplication of the screen. We see how the plurality of images produced by amateurs during the shoot of the film the Transformers, can be used as a source for promotion, or as a way to emotionally bind your audience. Crowd filming, just like crowd funding and crowd sourcing. The production potential of all these individuals together is enormous and is therefore exploited by commercial and political parties. (Transformers, The Premake)

Transformers, The Premake

Wark McKenzie speaks of Hito Steyerls writings in a very recent article. He says “The labour of spectating in today’s museums is always incomplete. No one viewer ever sees all the moving images. Only a multiplicity of spectators could ever have seen the hours and hours of programming, and they never see the same parts of it.”

Of course the same goes for all moving image online. Maybe here not even the multiplicity of spectators have ever seen the whole. This abundance of images also causes a kind of invisibility. There’s a good chance to get lost in this overload of images, or to just become a piece of data in the data pool.

Still from ‘How not to be seen, a fucking didactic education mov file’.

The last fragment I will show is an excerpt of Steyerl’s video ‘How not to be seen, a fucking didactic education mov file’. It’s a tutorial on how not to be seen in a world where we are always being looked at. We are constantly filmed by drones, surveillance cameras, our own smartphones and those of others. We never know if someone might have hacked the camera or microphone on our laptop. Our location can always be tracked though our smart devices. We can’t escape being seen if we want to take part in society. At the same time we have become tiny particles in the large pool of images. Our physical bodies don’t matter so much anymore; it’s the data that we generate that counts. So in a way we have become invisible. Paradoxically Steyerl’s video on how not to be seen, is at the same time a tutorial to escape invisibility. (How not to be seen)

Still from ‘How not to be seen, a fucking didactic education mov file’.

A Musical: You Say No, I Say Future, by Echo + Seashell

11.06.2015

Echo + Seashell consists of artists Henna Hyvärinen and Susan Kooi Together they write and perform songs about their problematic art- and love life, based upon what is going on at the moment. The music is produced by and in collaboration with different musicians, resulting in variations in both style and genre.

The lyrics form the core, the “baby soul” of Echo + Seashell. Their collaboration consists out of live performances, videos and exhibitions. After having received many rejections on both a personal and a professional level, they recently produced a musical on the theme of rejection. For this project they held an open call, inviting people to send in an instrumental song. Striving for 0% rejection, they used all the 18 songs that were sent. For some they wrote lyrics, for others they made videos or found another platform. The musical consists of four parts: In the Game but Losing It, Hard and Soft, Project Runaway andColdplay.

Stone Shelter

Stone Shelter remix (2014), Music by echo+seashell and Islaja, Remix by Molly Waters

COLDPLAY

Admiring Caged Birds, by Robert Cervera

21.06.2015 – by Robert Cervera
Robert Cervera, Untitled (Jelly Reservoir), 2013. Strawberry jelly, concrete dust.

There are human instances in which we get quite close to understanding the language of materials.

There’s the hoe plunging into the soil: crumbly in its first inches, then more pliable as we reach the moist underneath, then almost solid in the fresh darkness of laborious earthworms. Tchak and the worm is two.

There’s the bundle that a wood seller makes with logs or sticks; the line-like tension of the rope that seconds ago was sleeping amorphously in his pocket.

Robert Cervera, Pink Nappe, 2013. Polyvinyl, cement.

 

There’s the moment in which you sillily slightly slice the skin of your hand and for a second you don’t know what the physical bill will be: a momentary white line, a surge of blood, anything in between.

There is sculpture in those things. And there is a chance those things may be in a sculpture. And the sound they make – a sound in your mind – sends us back, like a sonar, an image of the world.

Materiality and human agency talk to each other. Squeeze, slice, drench, chafe, wedge, pat. Haptic marvels. How things feel, what they make us feel.

Robert Cervera, Untitled (Theatre Bundle), 2013. Concrete, adhesive tape.

(No distinction can be made between humanity and materiality, Hegel and Bordieu would say. We humans are materials which create other materials which then redefine us. The things we make, make us.)

The unbounded nature of the universe comes into the discussion. Matter flowing, going everywhere, and us chasing it, telling it to go this or that way, to stay in line, to wait in groups of four, of sixteen, of sixty-four.

We try our best to make the uncountable countable, to mark limits and give shape. We end up frustrated and beguiled at once by its unruliness, charmed by its oozing.

Robert Cervera

 

(Is it possible that we contain matter in the paradoxical way some cage birds, to better admire their flight?)

I am fascinated by that and also by the unexpected occurrence, the providential blunder, which I take to be one more chapter of our ongoing dialogue with materiality.

Tarot Egyptien, by Maja Klaassens

28.06.2015 – by Maja Klaassens

The cards brush against the heavy carpet as old hands roughly arrange them into rows of three. I am amazed how fast the reader moves, and how consumed the questioner is. It is apparent that the cards are holding authority over the both of them.

These opening titles for Cleo de 5 a 7 gave me a clear destination in Paris; a grungy esoteric shop in the 7th Arrondissement. I have heard that one should not buy one’s own deck. I figured, because I set out with different intentions than divination that I was safe. I was after the imagery, and I know now how complex tarot is to use. Every card has its own meaning, which can be altered by what is dealt nearby, and its orientation. Every reader has different methods, and every reading is subject to subtle changes in ritual.

Tarot was once just a game. It took only one century to become a method of clairvoyance after its arrival in southern Europe. By the 19th century reading Tarot was very vogue, a Victorian titillation akin to Ouija boards and séance. Now the poor cards have been smothered by the crushed purple velvet of modern occult clichés.

The deck of cards I came away with was a plastic coated reproduction named Tarot Egyptien. Egyptian because of a slightly misleading development; it is said that Tarot is derived from ancient Egyptian knowledge and mythology. This has never actually been confirmed and is a little unusual considering a recurring motif in Egyptian mythology is that the knowledge of gods is not human domain.

The eclecticism in a shop devoted to mysticism is both baffling and wonderful to me. Most of the objects you’ll find there are tools; to understand, to teach, to reach, to overcome, to pacify. They are arranged from all kinds of backgrounds. A fossil, a mandala and a rosary lay next to each other, closing oceans and centuries of spiritual development.

Things like tarot are so highly romanticized it is no wonder they are met with so much skepticism. As an artist, tarot is a kind of tool that speaks to me directly. With tarot, an object stands between two people. Through the object issues can be filtered and analyzed. The biases of each person involved in the conversation are present but because the object has the power, they are not leading the discussion.

To place this kind of energy into a physical entity enables the mind to reflect on it from a different perspective. You are actually looking at your question, instead of asking it.

Equilibrium Risk, by Valentina Pini

17.07.2015 – by Valentina Pini

Still from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

During her first chemistry lesson with Professor Allio, who has a huge angioma covering much of his face in a way that made it difficult to guess which was the birth mark and which was the unblemished skin; she learnt the transition of water in different phases.

The transition takes form between solid, liquid and gaseousstates of matter, and in rare cases, plasma. Those different states of matter suggest the process of creativity typical of an artist, where ideas often start as blurry images and finish with a solidbody of work.

This blurry image, roughly organic, can be compared to an intangible substance almost with the consistence of plasma,in terms of a unique condition of matter, which doesn’t have a definite shape or a definitive volume unless in a container.

In the paranormal field the ectoplasmic phenomena is associated with hauntings and it is understood that it has been a slime-like substance excreted by mediums during trances.

All those transformations from one matter to another could have several affinities with the gestation of an idea until its materialization: during the process of creativity, an artist passes through several complex stalemates: she gropes, she calls herself to question, she can get obsessed, she can switch back and forth between several ideas and she can get truly confused. Exactly during those transitions, the work starts to take form, even if it’s just a rough sketch. This itinerary, which fluctuates through several states of mind, gives an essential mobility to the concept.

Nevertheless each artist has her/his own way of experimentation and unfortunately, what it is visible is always the final stage and a final body of work rather than the uncertainty and the confusion. The backstage of most of the artist’s studio is hermetic and makes it almost impossible to deduce any linear theory about the experimentation. Can we therefore say that maybe artists and mediums have something in common because neither have any rational explication that can explain their conception?

Bruce Lee says “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Being shapeless means for her not being stuck on a fixed point, position or protocol but rather avoiding the safest places andresisting formalisation. Bruce Lee’s words makes her pensive. As an artist, she feels that she has in her hand a double-edged sword that sometimes she doesn’t know how to handle. She feels split between a certain free form daily life and the duty to follow astrict discipline. She knows that she needs some routine to progress in her work but at the same time she is afraid of unnecessary repetitions. Nevertheless she repeats in her mind, almost as a mantra, some statement in which she wants to believe: make mistakes, make risks happen, learn in a wrong way, be convertible, don’t care about ending points, use your non-knowledge as a starting point, use raw feelings and affirm you are an artist, even if people don’t truly trust you when you say that you are an artist without being a painter.

She wonders, are they the advantage points of not belonging to any pre-packaged society category? She wants to believe in this freedom in a conscious manner by cleaning up all stereotypes, a desire which recalls the opposition repeatedly mentioned between Scientific’s rationality and artist’s irrationality. When she is falling asleep this feeling becomes almost a vertigo, especially if she is sitting in a chair trying to resist sleep. When she is in this state, between being awake and falling asleep, she experiences a certain floating sensation that is like being physically in a place, which is notcompletely a real place. From her chair, her wall looks too aseptic, almost like that greenish tone typical colour of a waiting room. She feels strange, balancing like the bubble in the tube of a spirit level that is trying to stay straight.

This uncertain condition of reverie between a state of being and state of non-being, has been a crucial stage in the history ofchemistry. In the early 1860s, the German organist chemist Friedrich Kekulé awoke suddenly being able to discern the ring structure of benzene because he dreamt of a snake swallowing its own tail. Similarly, Dimitri Mendeleev, chemist and inventor who created his own version of the periodic table of elements, after three days and three nights without sleep, fell into a profound slumber, from which he awoke eventually able to see the pattern in the form of a table of regular properties.

Valentina Pini, Stick, 2014


Liquid
, equilibrium and dream are three mysterious elements indirectly connected. A transparent liquid can hide a strong invisible power, a poison, a drug or a magic fluid. Equilibriumis highly related to our consciousness or awareness consider that in medical terminology we experience and talk about aslabyrinthitis, an infection that can affect our physical equilibrium, which is in turn regulated by a special liquid in our ear. It is a mechanism that can be compared to the functioning of a spirit level. Dreams are dreams and they don’t have any limits, and it is interesting to remember that for a long time, alchemists speculated about what material dreams consisted of and without any evidence, they thought, “dreams were made out of some kind of gas, cloud, or superfine fluid, subject to rapid diffusion,but also capable, as is a gas, of gathering and lingering.”

In China, Facebook is called Weibo, by Constant Dullaart

08.10.2013 – by Constant Dullaart
Untitled (Weibo), screengrab taken through untitledinternet.com. Constant Dullaart 2013

In China, Facebook is called Weibo and Whatsapp is named Baidu. Google is Baidu and Youtube Youku. They’re all the same, but very different. As much as China seems to be a world on its own with its distinct worldview, their version of the internet also happens to be completely different. It’s like looking at reality through a completely different type of window. Wikipedia doesn’t function over there and you can’t reach (our) Facebook either. The replacing websites work in about the same way, the differences are subtle but crucial. Weibo makes you login with your Chinese ID number. ‘Dissonant’ posts are not appreciated and you receive virtual medals when you report violations to the site’s moderators. Since recently, a post about a politician can land you in jail once it’s been shared more than five hundred times. But there’s a solution. After paying a fee, you can use a ‘virtual private network’ that allows you to use the internet as if you are using it from a different country. That way you can enter still Facebook, because foreigners can’t use many of Weibo’s services.

Thanks to whistle blower Edward Snowden we know by now that American web services keep track of who posts what, just like China does. And that seems to be the best tactic, keeping an eye on people’s online activity, as we’ve seen during the Arab spring. You can say whatever you want, but it’s being monitored and it can be used against you anytime later. I created a Weibo account using an adjusted Chinese ID. After applying an auto translation I gazed at the internet through that other window. This constantly changing view on the online landscape demands for a critical eye and for new art works regarding this landscape. It’s good to see as much as possible and to be on the look out for any beautiful landscapes.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/5443-china-teen-weibo-user-detained-for-post-as-communist-partys-web-censorship-cracks-down

http://www.constantdullaart.com/youkube.png

YouKu / YouTube, Constant Dullaart 2012, online video.

Untitled (Weibo), screengrab taken through untitledinternet.com. Constant Dullaart 2013