On magic and mountains

So much for blogging about my art school experience – I had to quit after a measly three months. My asthma made it impossible to continue and in January 2010 I had to throw in the towel.

I have been able to keep up my weekly home cinema experience Kunst!Film! and I kept adding pics to my Flickr sets ‘On My Wall’ and ‘Waiting For’, but that’s about it for most of the year. In september I went back to Artless, for a short, but vibrant course by teacher Dieuwke Spaans. Together we collected ideas to act as a starting point. She helped me re-discover what I had known all along: that I love land art: stuff done to change space, to change or intensify the experience of the landscape, make one look at the landscape differently, surprisingly, magically. In land art I recognize my own love for landscape and nature, which I explored extensively from a scientific point of view as a geographer and struggled to help preserve as a civil servant. Art and science both look at the landscape differently, but to me they are equally able to enchant it.

So… what now? In December 2010 I left the Netherlands for a three month stay in  Davos, Switzerland, at the Netherlands Asthma Center. Once my overexcited airways start calming down from all the torture they suffered over the years in the Low Countries by means of air pollution and moisture, I might just start to feel better and build up some much needed energy. Not just for sustenance, but for creativity, for expressing myself in different ways. I want to surprise myself – and perhaps others. My main focus in Davos will of course be to restore my health, but being surrounded by majestic mountains and masses of snow is certainly an inspiration I hope to tap into.

Davos is famous for Thomas Mann’s book The Magic Mountain (1924), in which a young German gets to spend seven years in a Davos sanatorium to treat his tuberculosis. I remember reading this book (half of it actually, twice), and feeling the magic of the mountain myself. No way I could resist re-reading the book, so I took it from the hospital library. I hope the mountain will do its magic for me.

Note: because my posts will no longer mainly be aimed at my fellow Dogtime students (rather an international bunch), but also at current and future asthma patients in Davos, I choose to continue writing in Dutch from now.

Why BA’s?

About time to see what the fuss was about, so yesterday  YBA’s Michael Landy and Tracey Emin, well known from their respective key works Break Down and  My Bed, were featured in Kunst!Film!.  The Eye is a series of 30 minute documentaries where you just get the artist and his or her work. Simple, effective and rather great. Watching these we got the ‘why’: both artists left us touched and thinking way beyond spectacle, fame and money.

Browsing slowly

My Kunst!Film! programming is like very slow browsing. From one interesting theme sprout new ones to explore. Two weeks ago I put  The Great Contemporary Art Bubble Update on my wall and last week we got to the question Where Is Modern Art Now?

Prominent in both BBC documentaries were the YBA’s, the Young British Artists, who were at the centre of the Art Bubble that made them rock stars and the prices of their work skyrocket. According to Where Is Modern Art Now? presenter Guy Casely-Hayford’s  they still hold the art world in their grip. On his expedition to discover new developments in the art world Casely-Hayford mainly discovered a lot of work in the style of artists from the past decennia and he noticed a tendency toward more old-fashioned art, where craft and realism played a major part in the work, like in Tom Price’s sculptures.

We saw artists move from the fringe, to being part of the the establishment (like sir Anthony Caro), to not being able to keep up (Caro again). We got to see artists that didn’t seem too affected by the Art Bubble’s wealth and fame and over the years steadily worked on an impressive body of work like Cornelia Parker and Whitney McVeigh.

Conceptual artist-masquerading-as-a-craftsman Grayson Perry said being conservative is probably one of the most shocking things to be in the art world. I wasn’t shocked by anything I saw, but really liked getting to know Perry’s and Parker’s work.

The YBA’s offer young artists a role model, but also dangle a carrot of wealth and fame, as can be seen in School of Saatchi, where young artists try to make it to the Saatchi stables, judged by a panel with amongst others the usual suspects Matthew Collings and Tracey Emin.

It’s all about sharing – Kunst!Film!

Once upon a time, because I love sharing my experiences with others, I decided to buy a beamer, clear some wall space and started showing my collection of art documentaries to friends on my now famous Kunst!Film! (Art!Movie!) nights. This has been going on now for over a year. Often we discuss what we’ve seen for a bit, we let it inspire us, but mostly we have a great time sharing our creative and art-loving lives and the odd bottle of wine.

Personal favorites so far:

  • Art:21 – PBS series, now in it’s fifth season. Every episode has four portraits of  contemporary artists loosely connected by a shared theme, lovingly made and no boring talking heads. Don’t know what to ask for Christmas? Look no further.

  • The 1998 Channel 4 series This Is Modern Art by Matthew Collings. I just love the way he talks about art – no pseudo-intellectual bullshit, but straight-forward and often personal insights for anyone who’s interested in modern art. Beware: he might actually make you think.