Sunday, April 20, 2008

Galerie TamTam :: exhibition in Leiden North shops

This image is the front window of a baker's shop with Piet Franzen, the Leiden artist who made the installation of 'gold' bread visible on the lower left.

All information about this exhibition by 36 artists in 19 shop windows is here: The exhibition is on until June 9th.

The TamTam Festival is an annual cultural festival in my neighbourhood and this year I'm coordating an art exhibition in 19 shops (3 butchers, 2 bakershops, a snackbar, a vet's clinic, 2 hairdressers (or barbers), a video-dvd hire shop, a pharmacy, a florist, 2 community centres, 2 activities centres for the elderly, a corner shop specializing in selling cigarettes, a medical centre and a domicile :)

It will be fun. The shopkeepers are so enthusiastic and I've a little funding for a decent flyer. Deadline for submissions: 24 April.
All info about the project is here.

Bio art course in the Gorlaeus Lab, Leiden University

Photos: Kaisu Koski, 11 April 2008

Canadian artist, Jennifer Willet runs this 7 session course and it consists of lectures related to Bio art issues as well as practical workshops on: mammalian tissue culture, microscopy, DNA extraction and imaging, and genetic modification in the lab.
Last week (18 April) Dr. Alice Alia (Assistant Professor, Biophysical Organic Chemistry) gave a talk on her research utilizing MRImaging for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. The week before this (11 April) we all worked with calf livers using an adaption of a tissue culture technique developed by researcher and scientist, Anne Kienhuis.

  • Some links related to this course:
    The Arts & Genomics Centre, based at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Gorlaeus Laboratories, University of Leiden, The Netherlands hosted this course.

  • The blog for this course

  • Oron Catts + Jennifer Willet YouTube interview at ISEA2006 / ZeroOne, San Jose, August 2006 where they engineered Teratological Prototypes (cancer cells) in collaboration with the Tissue Culture & Art Project Initiated in 1996 by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, Tissue Culture and Art (TC&A) is an ongoing research and development project into the use of tissue culture and tissue engineering as a medium for artistic expression.

  • SymbioticA (Perth, Australia) :since its foundation in 2000, SymbioticA has enabled dozens of artists to engage in and comment on "wet technologies" while complying strictly with scientific requirements. See the 2007 article on some projects at

  • Interview with Oron Catts + Ionat Zurr, 1999

I will keep adding links as I come across them here until the end of May.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bahai and all that...

I made this image in early April for an exhibition Miyuki Kasahara is organizing here: Shed and a half in London (Shoreditch) gallery in May.

Her project For Whom Do You Speak called for contributions in non-European languages. My Maori is very rusty and so I sent her a couple of Bahai prayers I still remember. This is a children's Prayer:
O God Guide me, Protect me, illumine the lamp of my heart and make of my heart a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and powerful.

And while on the subject of the Bahai Faith, I'll mention a few blogs by Bahais I look at occasionally. is run by baquia who writes engaged journalist-like stuff where there's usually a lively debate.
The topic at the moment, which I wish I had more time for, is on homosexuality. Some Bahais think homosexuality is a big no, no, and are clear about announcing this. Most think homosexuality is a big no, no, but try to sweep this embarrassment into the closet (pun intended) and others, myself included, think that while there are a lot of homophobic attitudes expressed as if these are Bahai attitudes, there's nothing in Bahai Scripture to support this and if we dig away, discuss away, we create a healthier community based on Baha'u'llah's teachings of equality for all. Anyway read the debate for yourself. Most who post on this take the position that the Bahai Faith cannot offer equality towards homosexuals.
For contrast here's the blog of dear friend, Daniel Orey,
a gay married, out-the-closest Bahai!
Bahai related blog I enjoy is Bahaitheway: witty + sharp observations.
And of course Sen McGlinn's blogs on Bahai theological aspects related to the Bahai Writings.
A lot of Bahais post blogs, but these are the ones I keep returning to because they are engaging or make me think about things.
Alison's blog is a beautiful and clear tribute to Baha'u'llah's Teachings and Writings.

Monday, April 7, 2008

March 28th: art exhibitions in Amsterdam

First I was at the opening of Territorial Phantom in the Dutch Institute for Media Arts. I was impressed by the film Mary Koszmary by Yael Bartana set in an abandoned Polish stadium.

During the years of the Polish Republic (1921-1939) this stadium was one of the favoured locations for political rallies and street festivals. The speech reflects the aesthetic of nationalist propaganda films, but its content runs counter not only to the style, but to everything on which that style is based. The speaker wrestles with the form, revealing how much we are still hampered by nationalistic codes. He speaks before an almost empty stadium. Sierakowski, the speaker, describes the cultural and linguistic consequences of the departure of the Jews after the Second World War to Israel, and calls on the Polish Jews to return to Poland. See the gallery website for more. The show is on until May 12th.

Then I went to see Joseph Semah's performance, The Doubling of the House (see the image above) at the Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten - d'Eendt. I love his installations combining drawing, objects and often some form of lighting, along with references to the metaphysical.

Then I went to see an opening at Arti et Amicitiae.
Arjo, Marja and Astrid curated the digital view: an exhibition by 21 artists.

Astrid's painting (left) was a subtle changing patterns of elements. It was quite meditative and extremely well-crafted. The timing of the animation was so well done that effect of the artwork seemed create an existence between the what I would call 'static and painted' and 'mutable and animated'.

Anoniem 1, projection + paint on canvas by Astrid Moors

I met Arjo + Marja in March last year when they did a project in Leiden.
See their digi-paint website for more.

Dutch Culture Polychrome print on ceramic tiles by Marja van Putten

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

music theatre by Paul Koek + Dick Raaijmakers

I am taking a course in "electric music theatre" which consists of Paul Koek showing and discussing some of his many impressive productions.
The first was Hermans Hand, which premiered 19 October, 1995 in the Spui theatre as part of the in Festival in de Branding in the Hague.

The theatre piece is a hommage-critic-farce of the Dutch novelist, W.F. Hermans, played by Hans Dagelet (the man with glasses). It begins with slow motion performance of two men walking in the rain. The only real water is that splashed dramatically by a passing motorized car wheel. Each time of the 4 times, the two men were soaked and they responded with slow motion shock and horror. Behind them street lamps moved very slowly, suggesting a progressive movement the two men did not make along the platform. It reminded me of Raaijmaker's performance I'd seen in January where motion is so slow normal vision doesn't register this as movement.

Next the two are in a cafe, being served microphones as well as drinks and what you hear (via playback and excellent acting) is the exact text of an interview with the novelist recently (in 1995) aired on Belgium television.
The interview focussed on Herman's hand which was in a bandage and Herman's claim that he hurt it picking up a typewriter at a second-hand market, but the text was dominated by Herman's ranting and vicious comments about a theatre-maker (clearly a reference to Raaijmakers) who made nonsense out of mechanics.

However the main theme of this theatre seemed to centre on the fall (failure), a recurring theme in Raaijmakers' work, where in the 3rd act Hermans' literally falls in very slow motion, as he stretches his arm out, here aided by being attached to a support, powered by a steam engine (you see pumping away), which gradually lowered his body towards the typewriter on the ground.

More about Paul Koek + Dick Raaijmakers' theatre is here