Can you tell me a little more about the godfather project?
The project investigates how movies affect the individual and society. Many movies are based on true life stories and facts but are replayed by a group of actors and their acting blurs out the difference between real, fantasy and fiction.The actors leave traces of their individualities, emotions and identities. Furthermore, the sequences of past events, social or historic, are simulated to give an almost original or authentic narrative in cooperation with a script or direction.
My project explores this simulation and/or deception. I try to accomplish this by photographing myself in the studio and then place myself in the original scene or conversation. With the simulated image properly inserted, a distortion or distraction is created and this draws attention to me who is now the “foreign” or the “other”, away from the original image.
This way an illusion is created and a rethink of the original conversation and scene is instigated. The viewer will now be left alone to form his own story line or to develop a new conversation from what he sees.
What inspired you to start this project?
I’ve always loved to watch movies and very good ones for that matter. This year is the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie which was on 16th March 1972, just two months after I was born. So it’s a legacy and I’m paying my tribute to a great movie and a masterpiece. The movie is evergreen and the time or period of its production is irrelevant whenever you are watching it. It comes alive right in front of you. Yes, it’s a mafia movie full of violence, blood shedding and betrayal but at the same time, a lot can be learned from these vices. It’s like a paradox, you draw or pull out the good away from the bad or you show the good side of a very bad thing.
Is there a person or artwork that inspires you in general?
Yes, firstly, I would like to mention the Berlin based Nigerian photographer and curator, Akinbode Akinbiyi. He really inspired me a lot as a mentor and he also gave me my first platform as an artist (photographer). Akinbode bought books and sent them to Lagos for me to read. I think that is some good encouragement in one’s early career at a time when you find yourself in a space devoid of indigenous art platforms and non-existent or well developed art culture and tradition.
J.A Green and Pa J.D Okhai Ojeikere are two other photographers from Nigeria whose work inspires me a lot and also make me believe that anything is possible for an artist. Their works are very iconic and they set the foundation for photography in Nigeria.
Lastly, I think John Baldessari and Andy Warhol is an amazing pair of photographers/artists. They inspire me a lot and I started experimenting with paints because of them.
What are your plans for the future?
After my residency, I will continue to build on what I’ve learned at the Rijksakademie and try to develop all the experiments I carried out while I was staying here. I’m also going back to Nigeria to establish an art school that focuses on photography, video art and other lens based media. I want to make an impact on the Nigerian creative industry, and it’s my ambition to use the model of the Rijksakademie as my template. My passion is to give knowledge developed during my Rijksakademie residency back to people in Nigeria and to develop future artists. We lack well organized formal artistic and creative structures and platforms in Nigeria. My intention is to help re-address this situation no matter what the challenge may be or how long it would take me to achieve this. So I introduce The Nlele Institute – African Centre for Photography (TNI.ACP). It will be an independent art institution, a platform where talents can be harnessed and developed. I believe it is possible.
Find out what became of the Godfather project and visit Uche Okpa-Iroha’s studio (and that of the other residents) during RijksakademieOPEN 2012, December 1 and 2! More info here
Photos: Uche Okpa-Iroha and Roy Taylor
Text by DS
The Rijksakademie has a high level of expertise on the use of different materials and instruments in the fields of image and sound, graphics, construction and chemicals. This expertise is made available to resident artists in six different workshops, and technical experts in all different fields are available for advice. In professionally-equipped workshops, residents work and experiment with traditional and contemporary materials and techniques. In the Workshop series we explore what is going on in the technical workshops one area of expertise at the time.
At the paint laboratory experiment and research are encouraged. “Every year we are (re-) inventing,” says technical supervisor Arend Nijkamp. It often takes a few attempts to visualize the idea of the artists. The paintlab inspires a new generation of residents every year. A table full of tests and prototypes illustrates this and shows what can go wrong, but moreover it shows everything that is possible. The emphasis is on contemporary applications such as the development of surface structures, synthetic resins, conservation methods and industrial paints and coatings. The paint laboratory collaborates often with other workshops, like ceramics for 3D objects, or with video when it comes to projecting on a special surface.
Currently resident Roderick Hietbrink is a perfect example of this collaboration between workshops in the Rijksakademie. For his project ‘masks’ (working title, the project/performance is still in progress) he is making costumes involving handcrafted bird masks. I meet him in his studio where he is busy papier-mâché-ing the ‘skulls/skeleton’ of these masks and ask him a few questions.
Which workshops did you use for your work?
I used practically every workshop in the Rijksakademie for my projects, and I learned many new techniques and worked with a lot of different materials. This time it was no different, for this project I worked in the wood workshop, the ceramics department and the paint laboratory. after the masks are finished and I am going to make an installation/performance/video work for which I will probably need the electronics department also.
I noticed in your other work you also make a lot of props yourself, why is that?
It’s important to me to maintain a close communication between my ideas and the production process, because many ideas are actually derived from it. However this particular project is very labour intensive, so I had to find an assistant to come and help me out.
The bird mask that is the closest to being finished is the woodcock. It has real feathers precisely glued to the mask and stares at you with huge brown plastic doll-like eyes. The eyes Roderick made in himself in several Rijksakademie workshops. In the ceramics department and the paint laboratory the lens was constructed and the mold for the shape of the lens was constructed in the metal workshop.
What inspired you to start making these masks?
First of all, it is not my goal to make masks just for making masks, I am making them for a performance or video I will use them for later. Inspiration I drew mostly from my former projects (Harlequin, The Living Room). Furthermore, from an early age I have been fascinated by birds and I dream about flying a lot, so in a way I feel like a bird sometimes.
So you mean you’re not sure where you are going to use the masks for, there is no predetermined strategy?
Exactly, it is still uncertain where I am going with it, the idea will (hopefully) develop along the way. For now I have an idea in my head of what I want the bird masks to look like and that is what I am concentrating on.
Do you always work this way, without a clear plan?
It depends, for my work The Living Room, where an oak gets dragged through a living room, I had to plan every detail, with this project I did not plan like that at all, I will find out what I exactly want with it along the way, it is a process.
The birds Roderick is concentrating on are not fantasy birds but the ones you could find in your everyday life, like a collared dove, a sea gull, and a heron. The wall of his studio is plastered with pictures of these birds.
The birds you are using as an example are quite the average bird, did you choose them on purpose?
As a matter of fact, yes. I was looking for birds without many allegorical or symbolic connotations. Birds that are somewhat still ‘available’ to give meaning to. The birds seem ordinary but in my work will become real characters.
So in the end it could be that, after I have seen your finished work, you have managed to give meaning/personality to an ordinary bird I encounter every day in Amsterdam?
When do you expect the project to be finished?
I want to show the result during the RijksakademieOPEN 2012, the first weekend of December.
For more info about Roderick and his work visit his artist page
For more info about RijksakademieOPEN visit our website
The Rijksakademie has a high level of expertise on the use of different materials and instruments in the fields of image and sound (photography, film, video, sound, and electronics), graphics (engraving, letterpress, lithography, silk-screen and artists’ publications), chemicals (paint, plastics, ceramics and glass) and construction (metal, wood and precision mechanics). This expertise is made available to resident artists in six different workshops, and technical experts in all different fields are available for advice. In professionally-equipped workshops, residents work and experiment with traditional and contemporary materials and techniques. In the Workshop series we explore what is going on in the technical workshops one area of expertise at the time.
Within the ceramics department it’s possible to work with pottery, stoneware and porcelain. Furthermore, there’s a plaster studio and 3D-studio. Sometimes, small ceramic objects are needed as a part of a larger installation, sometimes artists make life-size sculptures. The largest oven of the workplace can handle sculptures over two meters high, and is one of the largest ovens in Europe.
For a lot of artists who start the residency, ceramics is a relatively unknown medium. That’s why technical supervisor Peter Kemink always demonstrates the many different possibilities of ceramics at the beginning of the year. The many tiles on the wall are samples of various glazes, which can form the basis of self-composed glazes. In addition to four different basic glazes there’s a collection of 40 coloring oxides and pigments, which together create a nearly infinite color palette. Attached to the department are facilities for ‘warm’ glass, such as working with fused glass molds and molding in the oven.
For the last one-and-a-half month former resident Matthew Lutz Kinoys (RA 10/11) worked in the ceramics workshop on his project Keramikos 2 the travelling dinner party. For this project he made, together with the expert guidance of Pieter Kemink and befriended artists, his own set of dishes, mugs, and other table ware. Last Thursday, he invited employees and fellow artists of the Rijksakademie for a rehearsal dinner.
Lutz-Kinoy: “The biggest plus of the Rijksakademie is that it brings different things together, there are many collaborations of different disciplines and many possibilities of introducing unfamiliar techniques to artists. For me the first time I ever worked with ceramics was in my first year at the Rijksakademie.
However, I liked working with ceramics so much that the idea of making more tableware kept lingering in my head. I wanted to do more with it than just make them and wanted to create and organize events that involves the ceramic table ware I made. So when I found the means to do this I came back to the Rijksakademie and started making the pieces of ‘Keramikos 2’. I asked some of my friends who know about ceramics to help me out.
I really loved learning about ceramics and creating something with a purpose. The tableware for the ‘traveling dinner parties’ is a more formatted work than I am used to, with a lot of history. Furthermore, this time I wanted to keep everything together, and use it together in a way that it is more than just a set of dishes. Luckily, during the rehearsal dinner Keramikos 2 proved to be just that”
Matthew Lutz-Kinoy during the rehearsal of his project ‘Keramikos 2:The travelling Dinner Party’ at de Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten.
Keramikos 2 : the travelling dinner party by Matthew Lutz-Kinoy and Natsuko Uchino will travel on to Parison June 25th, to Florence on September 8th, and conclude in Otegem, Belgium in May 2013.
For more photos of ‘Keramikos 2’ click here
Text by DS
Workshop photos by Willem Vermaasse
The Rijksakademie has a high level of expertise on the use of different materials and instruments in the fields of image and sound (photography, film, video, sound, and electronics), graphics (intaglio, relief print, planographic printing, screenprint and artists’ publications), chemicals (paint, plastics, ceramics and glass) and construction (metal, wood and precision mechanics). This expertise is made available to resident artists in six different workshops, and technical experts in all different fields are available for advice. In professionally-equipped workshops, residents work and experiment with traditional and contemporary materials and techniques. In the Workshop series we are exploring what is going on in the technical workshops one area of expertise at the time.
The wood workshop is equipped with all the heavy machinery needed for the countless techniques of woodworking. There are assembly tables, power machines, (electric) hand tools, and air pressure tools. Additionally there are tools available for cutting glass and plastic. Many artists use the wood workshop for presentation purposes of their work, including making frames, walls and statues.
Because of all the modern manufacturing methods available today, not all artists are aware of the interesting more traditional woodworking techniques. The technical supervisor of the wood workshop Wim Janssen specialises in traditional woodworking, which is a mostly manual labour.
Every year, Janssen gives an introductory demonstration on traditional woodworking to point out the value and the many techniques available to realise different projects. Janssen: “Every year some residents are interested in the craft of traditional woodworking, and want to learn more about this. For example Femmy Otten, who works very meticulously on her delicate wooden faces with a tiny router, and who is also interested in the traditional technique of gouging.”
Femmy Otten at work in the wood workshop
Femmy Otten - work in progress
Another example of a (former) resident who likes woodworking is Inti Hernandez. Currently, he is showing a work at the Havana Biennial 2012 that he recently made in the wood workshop of the Rijksakademie. The project titled ‘Bancontodos’ is a large bench made from bend and traditionally carved wood, designed to unite people.
Inti Hernandez - work in progress
Inti Hernandez - Impressie van Bancontodos 2012 - Havana Biennale 2012
Even in the twenty years he worked at the Rijksakademie, Janssen rarely is bored by his work: “Artists push boundaries, and always come up with something unexpected. You never know what will happen here.”
Text by DS
For more info about Femmy Otten click here
For more info about Inti Hernandez click here