Nog maar twee weken tot RijksakademieOPEN, dus wordt er van ’s morgens vroeg tot ’s avonds laat in ateliers en werkplaatsen hard gewerkt aan nieuw werk.
Kom ook kijken op 30 november -1 december op Sarphatistraat 470, Amsterdam.
by Frederieke Beunk
Cheng Ran in his studio, photo by Frederieke Beunk.
Today I visited second-year resident Cheng Ran (CN, 1981) in his studio at the Rijksakademie. We sit down in two large old-fashioned armchairs. I look out on a year’s study: a dozen parts of a deconstructed black grand piano are standing against the wall. On the ground lays a project Ran is working on: an assemblage of Dutch brochures and magazines from the Seventies and Eighties that he found by chance in some road trash. Ran can’t read Dutch, but his assistant helps him.
Experiences Ran didn’t have yet or skills he doesn’t masters, fascinate him. Under the pseudonym Wojtowircz Fog he has published the novel Circadian Rhythm (2013). It’s a detective story in which he takes up motifs and quotes from his earlier works. According to Ran it is badly written, however it’s not so much about the story. The work is meant to be a total experience in which you could read the book on a toilet in the exhibition space. During RijksakademieOPEN 2013 special excerpts from the novel with clues of the story were exhibited around the public toilets of the Rijksakademie. Ran is interested in the combined action of location and reading.
Cheng Ran, Chewing Gum Paper (filmstill), 2011, single channel video with sound, 3 min 10 sec, photo by Cheng Ran.
Ideas for his videos, installations and novels he finds in daily life, music, youth culture, and European art house cinema. In China, he spent days and nights with friends who play in a band. There his idea arose for the video Chewing Gum Paper (2011). First you hear the sound of a drum, then you see screwed up silver chewing gum wrapping papers and bouncing on the vibrating drum surface. Martin Luther King’s four words from his famous speech ‘I have a dream’ (1963) resound repeatedly in a distorted and hypnotic way. The viewer very quickly gets a sense of recognition by the canonical words. By a second encounter, the serious undertone of the words seems a bit out of place in combination with the playful wrapping papers. Ran plays with the idea how sound can affect the way you look at an image and vice versa.
He is receptive to new ideas he gains from unfamiliar cultures, like the Dutch culture. As student at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Ran became acquainted with Western art. Reading Western texts and theories, a new world opened up for him. China before 1989, the year in which modern Chinese art started to develop, is for Ran miles remoted. He rather focuses on Western culture and finds it easier to translate it to a video work than Chinese culture. He rather focuses on what the European culture has to bring him during his residency, than relating to Chinese politics, as so many Chinese artists do who are well known in the West.
Ran’s first-year stay at the Rijksakademie greatly affected his work and the way he reflects on it in different ways. In his work he concentrates on the experience of human interaction and the relationship of citizens to society. He lets himself be inspired by Amsterdam and its inhabitants. For hours he walked through the city and observes the daily habits and interaction of passers-by. He is interested in the story of the city and her inhabitants. When the sun is breaking through, he likes to go to the Oosterpark writing a novel or listening to musicians.
But also technical aspects of his work changed. Before his arrival at the Rijksakademie, Ran filmed his video with a digital camera. He had a lot of inspiring conversations with technical specialists and developed his technique in the media workshops. Here he learned how to work with super 16 mm film. Ran says in China it is almost impossible to work with this kind of film of the lack of special cameras and places to develop these films. Last year, he made seven new films, but he also expanded his work from video to other media such as installations, sound works and novels. He points out that the contact between the resident artists is very professional: there are a lot of in-depth discussions which made him look at his work in a renewed way. Ran: ‘The atmosphere of the art scene here is quite different than the Chinese art scene.’ Although the technical aspect of his work gained a high degree of development, for Ran the most important change becomes visible in the way he looks at his work and the new perceptions on his work which he has acquired during his residency.
This year he also would like to explore super 8 mm film. The idea for a new video came from the many junk emails everyone receives in his email box, but never reads. In his new video he would like to recite the emails as poems. In his coming novel he will focuses on the effects of language barriers on his work and his communication about it. Despite his limited mastery of the English language, he’s planning to write the book in English directly. Furthermore he would like to make a full length movie, currently he only makes short films. For his last residency year at the Rijksakademie Ran has still enough ideas.
More information you can find on Cheng Ran’s artist page.
by Taya Hanauer
A woman with a white hat will enter.
She will stand by the door for a moment.
She will appear pale.
She will be self-assured and kind of sexy.
The man will experience a déjà vu.
The woman will sit near the door.
She will be ready for anything really.
She will seem friendly on the outside.
She will clear her voice.
The above is an excerpt from Zhana Ivanova’s (BG, RA 12/13) script which was given to the audience as part of her performance piece “all the players” during RijksakademieOPEN. Watching the movements of the silent actors, the audience attempts to follow along with the script in hand. At one point, it becomes obvious that the script is quite peculiar. At times it describes an action as one would expect a script to do (“she will sit near the door”), while at other times it points out a judgment not otherwise made by the viewer or an experience not otherwise perceptible, transparently dictating to the audience what to see (“she will appear pale” or “the man will experience a déjà vu”). Ivanova’s performance piece plays with the audience’s perceptions and expectations in this way, providing an odd script which makes the audience question what is going on in a scene which hangs somewhere between familiar and strange.
The performance took place in a specially built room inside Ivanova’s studio, and emulates a waiting room scenario with chairs along the walls, a standard green plant, and a side table with water glasses. It begins with two characters sitting in the room, seemingly waiting, later two more characters join them, and the scene loops every 15 minutes, with the actors switching roles. Like in a typical waiting room, the characters do not talk to each other, and appear to be waiting for something else and more important to happen. This waiting room situation, where time is usually experienced as wasted is the focus of this piece. Combined with the script given to the audience, the emphasis of this performance is directed towards things that are not consciously noticed or imperceptible in such situations considered lacking in significance, such as nonverbal communication, internal thoughts, and arbitrary actions. With this emphasis, Ivanova’s performance switches between the roles of expected visibility, fading into the background actions that are usually visible and expected to be so, such as speech and climax events, which in this case refers to the expectation that something will indeed happen, that what has been waited for will arrive or that the characters will speak to each other.
The usage of the script itself is a manifestation of the aspect of bringing to visibility things that remain unseen or unnoticed. The script is commonly perceived as a guiding outline for actors to follow, a skeleton for a performance but incomplete in itself. Here it is brought out of its usually hidden place and given a powerful role in creation of action and perspective. The script is so significant here that without it, the audience would not be able to follow the actors, they would not be able to ‘understand’ what they see. This dependency on the script brings the audience inside the boundaries of the performance, as the role of the script is transferred from scripting only the actors to scripting the audience as well.
The scripting of the audience also through the specific content dictating perceptions or judgments, and bringing out elements which are commonly overlooked or unseen such as arbitrary actions and internal thoughts, and the audience’s dependency on it in order to gain entry into the performance, gives way to another sense of reality which intertwines ‘real life’ and the staged performance. Specifically also the lack of verbal communication between the characters and the at times unusual demands of the script from the audience’s perception (for example “she will be self-assured and kind of sexy”) all recall the many unseen aspects of daily life, the complexity which lays below the obvious and the visible; the unshared thoughts, feelings, and actions which constitute our existence. In this way “all the players” can make daily life appear mute without a script. A mute environment in which people remain isolated from each other with unshared thoughts and unnoticed actions. This relation to life gives an unnatural yet familiar feel to the performance and creates an awareness of this recognizable part of daily life which has no voice and cannot have a voice expcept for an imposed one in a setting which is necessarily staged.
The stylistic qualities of “All the Players” seem inspired by what Martin Esslin has termed “Theatre of the Absurd” which refers to a sense of purposelessness, incomprehensibility, refusal to conventional language, play with the audience, and a general existentialism which points towards the “illusion of what we thought was life’s apparent logical structure[i].” “All the Players” incorporates such elements and is similarly a complex fragment but more abstract in its usage of plot and characters than the playwrights originally grouped under this heading. Ivanova’s “All the Players” emphasizes these specific qualities through the reduction of elements to complete purposelessness, existential isolation, and play with the audience, in a waiting room scene in which ‘nothing’ ends up happening, the character’s thoughts and actions arbitrary and uncommunicated, and a script upon which the audience depends in order to ‘see’ these arbitrary things which go unnoticed. A script that dictates perceptions, points towards the isolation in life, and is in itself a symbol of reversed roles of visibility, making the audience question what it is that they have just seen.
[i] Martin Esslin, “The Theatre of the Absurd,” The Tulane Drama Review 4.4 (May 1960): 1-15.
By creating useful objects and installations, resident Dušan Rodić questions the role of art within the social realm. Always seeking harmony with the environment, his aesthetics are rooted in the principles of mathematics and sacred geometry. During RijksakademieOPEN 2013 he presented ‘Tuning in’, a wall piece consisting of nine solar panels, made with multi-crystalline silicon solar cells.
Last week, in his last days as a resident at the Rijksakademie and just before moving to Berlin I get to ask him a few questions about his work ‘Tuning in’ .
Can you tell me a little about your motivation for this work?
The motivation for the work came out of my research to create an art piece concerning alternative energy sources. A few years ago I gave myself a framework to create art work related to basic living necessities such as food, shelter, water, energy.
The work ‘Tuning in” consists of hand made solar modules. During my residency at Rijksakademie I decided to challenge myself to create solar modules that are both functional and visually impressive.
The concept behind the piece is related to my perspective of looking at the journey of self-realization we call “life”. During the life-time or let’s say, every day, or to be more specific every moment, there are decisions to be made, making this decision in a right moment determines your growth.
The ‘decisions’ I am referring to, are not made by rational thinking, making these decisions is faster than our mind, they are connected to our instinct. Being sensitive to energies around you and choosing the right one, is a difficult task, it is like tuning into the radio station with the analogue/FM radio tuner. The task is to keep yourself tuned in.
Your work seems highly technical. How do you learn about all the technical details of such a project?
I got interested in solar panels a few years ago, I visited every solar panel expo, researched new technologies and made contacts with solar module material producers.
I had great support from the Rijksakademie technical workshops team Arend Nijkamp, Kees Reedijk and Stephan Kuderna, I found a lot of informations through the internet. Later on I got to know Doctor Siniša Đordević, a lecturer at the Engineering and Energy Studies at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, who guided me along the process with many important advices.
The artist Mi-Ah Rödiger helped me a lot with the lamination process and precision in executing the work.
About the project you write: “The dyad simultaneously divides and unites, repels and attracts, separates and returns.”- can you explain more about why this interests you?
The Dyad is for me a symbol of twoness. We are all searching for love, recognition, acceptance… the two circles are touching each others centre points. Still being the two separate entities they share the middle part with each other, Vesica Piscisis is depicted on the ‘Tuning in’ piece.
This shared form in between two circles was for ancient Greek mathematical philosophers the source of all the geometrical forms. We are one, that is the important part.
Also you are a renovation coordinator for OT301 in Amsterdam, can you tell me a little more about how this came along?
OT301 is the old film academy building in the centre of Amsterdam. In 1999 it was squatted by a group of Gerrit Rietveld Academie art students and squatters, political activists / anarchist .
For 14 years this building is a fusion of art and activism. It is run by the organization Eerste Hulp Bij Kunst (First Aid For Art) ,which bought the building in 2007.
As a member of EHBK and being an artist interested in creating self sustainable spaces for artists, the members entrusted me to run the renovation plan with the guidance of an external advisor: architect Henk Slijkhuis, a man with great experience and knowledge in projects like this.
Within two years we executed a big renovation project, renewing most of the vital functions of the building, total renovation of the façade, certain interventions concerning the buildings energy efficiency.
As a logical progression of my graduation work Shelter #1 I see this renovation as part of my artistic practice and many entities within the architectural interventions executed can be seen as my art work.
What is your plan after the Rijksakademie?
‘I see framing and zooming as a sacred act also.’
Resident Emile Zile questions the means by which individuals construct their identities and/or memories in the digital age. He exposes the daily tragedy of networked disconnection and social transformations by digital technologies.
The Australian artist just came back from Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, where he witnessed and photographed the morning Tak Bat ritual, an ancient Buddhist tradition. During Tak Bat, hundreds of barefoot monks walk through the streets collecting food from locals. The ritual has become such an attraction for tourists; the flashing of cameras is constant and disruptive. Visitors endlessly block the streets trying to grasp key moments to take back home as a souvenir, as if making a catalogue of holiday memories. Emile wanted to record the tourism, the monks and the result of the constant picture taking during such a sacred ceremony. With that in mind, he decided to film for nine days and make a short film of his recordings. Emile talks about his interest in photography as a ritual and about reality through a zoomed and framed screen.
Q. You seemed to have travelled a lot and have just come back from Laos, why did you choose that destination for your most recent work?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively, sometimes with music projects, sometimes teaching, sometimes for collaborations. In 2010 I taught a UNICEF video workshop in Luang Prabang. In the city, I witnessed the morning Tak Bat ritual between the givers of rice, the monks and the takers of photographs. I wrote about it and let it sit in my journal for a few years. This year it felt unavoidable to make this film.
Q. What led you to photograph Tak Bat and such an intensive kind of tourism?
I am a monk. I am a tourist. Within the street I see the stage for every human conflict and negotiation. Specifically for this video I was interested in contrasting the buddhist principles of mindfullness, meditation, removing yourself from time to the act of photography, grasping for permanence, embalming a moment. The last shot of my 2012 film Jack is a solitary figure passed out in a half-finished Buddhist temple in Footscray, Australia. This film is an oblique sequel.
I was interested in contrasting the buddhist principles of mindfullness, meditation, removing yourself from time to the act of photography, grasping for permanence, embalming a moment.
Q. What is it about tourism and photography that catches your attention? What was the motivation to record tourists?
My work is consistently focussed on human communication mediated by technology, more often broadcast or recording media. This is a line that contains fire for me, from my early work such as appearing on a television gameshow in Australia to performances using post-it notes, subtitles or youtube and the more recent short films. It was important to not make a judgement on the tourists. I see framing and zooming as a sacred act also.
Q. How do you feel about individuals and tourists in the digital age? Whereby photos are hardly looked at again or are ‘for ever stacked’ in a hard drive.
Collecting is a strong impulse. Making a catalogue of memories on vacation as signposts of a life well lived or the ‘proof of purchase’ of existence. The act of recording can become a compulsion. I should know, my house in Australia has crates of television documentaries, arthouse films and commercial television recorded to VHS. As a teen I was an obsessive collector, creating my personal scratchy pre-YouTube database of films I thought I could never easily access again. I still return to the archive to watch certain titles I cannot find easily even with the aid of the internet. An observational documentary on the Chechen conflict that uses Russian pop music as counterpoint to the misery and boredom of the frontline comes to mind.
Q. What are your sources of inspiration?
My friends Linda Safehouse101, Bobzi, Carl Two4K, Eddie Clickjaw, pb3073, Karen Eliot and Landless Peasant, Marcsta Boogie, OXO OVO.
Text by Laura Beltrán Villamizar
See Emile Zile’s video of Tak Bat at RijksakademieOPEN 2013
Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December
Attend the event on facebook here.
Miko Veldkamp is currently in his last year of residency at the Rijksakademie. His works with deserted landscapes, birds in the park and groups of people are based on personal memories and observations, painted with the fleeting signature of a photograph.Of his personal subject matter he only paints what is universally recognizable, with a minimal handwriting and colour composition
The colour compositions are rooted in Veldkamp’s observations on flatness, depth and movement. In his paintings nothing has a fixed place; the front seems the back, far away close and everything seems to continuously shift places.
Miko: “At the moment I’m finishing new work for RijkakademieOPEN in which I want to show my research and interests of the last two years. I asked myself how painting can say something about this day and age. Our way of looking is influenced by media such as photography and video. I think that there is an increased consciousness of movement and the transitory nature of things, caused by for example the fastness of digital photography, but also time-lapse videos, stop-motion, or slow-motion. Because of this people also look at paintings differently. Everyone knows the video’s of how a painting is being built up. You can see the painting grow, and in the end there remains only a static thing. Instead I want my paintings to keep the motion, that sequence of gestures, in the end result.
Bea McMahon (IR/72), current resident at Rijksakademie, is attracted in seeing things from “behind” and “beyond”, from the inside, rather than the outside. Not interested in “what is” but rather in “what would be if…” she builds self-contained environments for experiments.
Although mostly known for her drawings and videos, during ’Museumnacht‘ (Museum Night) the Irish artist presented a public rehearsal of ‘The Fixed Point’, a play that will be staged during the RijksakademieOPEN 2013
There are three props in the room: “call them sculptures”, states the script. These are: a Shrine – a textile temple that hides inside ceramic treasures, a Pipeline (or a Chorus) – a peculiar construction made of enamel pipes and a Mountain (or a Bed or a Diagram) – a metal cone covered with a blanket.
Furthermore there are three characters: Shell, the 7th largest gas company in the world, Ray, the Irish minister of energy (1987-88) and Corrib, an Irish methane and ethane gas field in an area known as the Slyne Trough. The play is a love triangle. Specific instructions identify each character’s movement in relation to each other and to the three props. For instance, Corrib can never move from under the pipeline, Ray possesses total freedom in relation to all characters and props and Shell can only interact with the mountain, the shrine and Ray.
The characters interact with each other, making startling noises using the requisites, like scratching the pipes or clinking on the ceramic elements. This way they create their own idiom, by which they can communicate.
As an extension of her research into various peoples’ ‘eating disorders’, resident Masha Ru now involves others in her own odd eating habit: eating clay and ceramics.
The act of eating soil-based substances including raw clay is known as geophagy and is scientifically researched. Her current project is inspired by the study of this phenomenon. It involves the production of edible ceramic cups. Within the project the act of eating ceramics is connected to number of factors, such as instincts, social values, culture, spirituality, addictions and sexuality.
Masha: “I find it interesting that in some cultures eating soil is a part of the culture. For instance in Haiti clay cookies are a part of national cuisine, while in Europe and USA eating soil is officially regarded as a psychological disorder.
Resident Goeun Bae’s work begins with clues she takes from everyday life, she incorporates them in her films, performances, objects, installations and photographs. Frequently she uses body parts as a performative extension in her work which experiments with total detachment and obsessive repetition, asking the viewers to puzzle the pieces together themselves.
Currently, Goeun has submerged herself in the project of making an installation that will plunge replicas of her own smiling head into water. When I meet her in the paint laboratory of the Rijksakademie she is holding a football-sized in her arms rocking it back and forth. Apparently it is quite heavy work , when technical supervisor Arend Nijkamp steps in and takes over from her; Goeun needs a moment to catch her breath before she can answer my questions:
Can you tell me a little bit more about what you are doing?
By rocking this mold I spread the liquid plastic inside evenly around. To get this mold shaped after my own head, I first made head out of clay, which then became the model for the silicon mold. With this mold I am making several plastic heads in various colours. I am making heads with laughing faces so I can incorporate them into a moving installation. I’m working on a construction that will plunge the plastic head tinto water.
Arend Nijkamp explains that the modelling needed to be done in clay: “When you cast it directly from her face, it will look like a dead person’s face, because the eyes are always closed.”
What is this particular story about ?
I started this project in July and it was inspired by short stories I was writing at the time. I would imagine a character and think about this person’s situation and her daily habits. The head which I am working on now also has a character and story behind it. It is about a person who fears yet loves water. When she is alone she puts her face in the water and holds her breath, until she feels like she’s suffocating. She’s a person who sings her story under water. She’s a person who regrets eating her meal with her right hand the day before. And she’s a person who regrets waking up five minutes earlier than she intended. She is a person who remembers these kind of small and unconscious behaviors and regrets them - a person whose thoughts are repetitive.
It is this story that took shape in the form of the head installation. It’s a simple yet interactive installation that reacts to the actions of the viewer. I am planning to accompany the installation with sounds so the viewers will gain more insight about the character.
Personally I have had a bad experience of falling into water when I was young and therefore I still cannot put my face in water for long. Neither can I hold my breath under water but the head I made can stay in the water with a smiling face.
Do you have a specific goal with the project?
My hopes for this project is that the simplicity of the movement and the story behind the object will come together into a cohesive work..So I have to think about how viewers will approach it and whether viewers should do something in order to activate the installation.
When can we see this installation?
I am not sure when it will be finished but I hope to exhibit this project at RijksakademieOPEN 2013. As for the many heads I am making right now, I am planning to connect them to other characters and their stories. I am still deciding whether these projects will turn into another installation, a film or a performance.
RijksakademieOPEN 2013 Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December
More about Goeun Bae here: