november 26, 2007.
Upon arrival in Amsterdam I got a telephone call from ROB SCHOLTE, who was on his way to have lunch with AAT VEldHOEN, and wondered whether there'd be an occasion to meet later that day, or maybe even later that week? Being so very busy on both sides, it is not easy to get together and continue the planning of our forthcoming musical enterprise. ROB's call at least ensured that I did not forget to go and have a look his Kroonjuwelen show, that was on at the Art Gallery Jaski in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat from october 20th till november 4th.
Last time FPCM and I visited him in his studio, SCHOLTE was working on this project. There were boxes standing around filled with many thousands of marbles, of many different types and in lots of different colors and sizes. I remember running my fingers through them. Doing that actually gave me a sort of a greedy feel, even though I cannot remember ever having been anything of an overly fanatic knikkeraar (marble shooter) as a kid. The crown jewels, colorful square 'glass paintings / objects', were produced by sinking the glass marbles in a resin (giethars) surface. They look fantastic (click the picture to enlarge). At Jaski's there were some 60+ 'crown jewels' on display, in three different sizes. I found it amazing btw to discover the many names used in several languages to describe different types of marbles ... The dutch wikipedia entry, for example, mentions no less than 39 of such marble names: gewoontje, ééntje, bam, bonk, lodder, spikkel, bikkel, tokker, uppie, stuiter, bakker, reuzereuze, panda, keizer, stuiter, vlinder ...
in the wake of "Other Voices, Other Rooms" the big andy warhol exhibition (running in the Stedelijk Museum until january 13th, 2008), Amsterdam is suffering from a bad case of warholism. With warholian events all around the place it was pretty much unavoidable that I became a member of the Andy Warhol Club.
There were soooo many people ... We spent a great afternoon
in the multiverse set up by guest curator EVA
MEYER-HERMANN. It comprises a Cosmos, a Filmscape
and a TV-Scape. The TV-Scape continuously and synchronously
airs the 42 television shows that WARHOL
made between 1979 and 1987. Andy Warhols Fashion was a series produced
for Manhattan Cable, Andy Warhols TV was made for the Madison Square
Garden Network, and Andy Warhols Fifteen Minutes (the series that
he was working on at the time of his death in 1987) was shown on MTV.
Each episode of these shows is playing on its own monitor, comes with its own white star-shaped seat to sit down on and watch. So great .... even though I really did not have the patience to watch any of this endless parade of célèbre pop- and other stars. At the time of their making I wouldn't have watched them on real television, and I didn't find much of a reason to do so now, even more so because if ever I would need to change my mind, as a member of the Andy Warhol Club (€ 12.50) I may come back any other day for free ... Now isn't that wonderful? To be able to do that? That you just may be there, say, while ignoring all of it and think of something else, because you can come back anytime again if, for example, someone who's opinion you truly cherish, ensures you that ignoring it was a mistake? ... I really do love that! It is so ... well ... soooo ...
Ah, but ... bummer ... ! All picture taking at "Other Voices, Other Rooms" is strictly forbidden. Duh! ... ANDY would've hated it. There was little that disturbed and annoyed him more than being somewhere where one would not let him take pictures, or ask him to turn off his dictaphone ...
[ Stick out tongue and make obscene gesture with middle finger here. ]
Collection and collector are keywords. Although WARHOL's work - if only because of its success, popularity and hence visibility - at least partially accounts for the by now almost common awareness that *how* we experience the 'things' that surround us somehow is shaped by the *way* that we look upon them and that their deemed superficiality is often but in the eye of the beholder (a matter of context), I think it is unjustly simplifying an immensely complex process to blurb about how WARHOL's art paved the way for our day and age of reality-tv and stars-for-a-day; how his dictated-by-telephone diaries predate the millions of today's i'm-so-hung-over-after-last-night's-party-blogs; how all that he did, now everybody's doing over at YouTube's ... That's the buzz. It is what I read in the many dutch mags now running WARHOL stories, it is what they talked about on television. It is how the Stedelijk sells its Andy Warhol Club and exhibition ... And it is as false as it is true. Hence it is nonsense.
ANDY WARHOL was a collector, principally,
and a workaholic. And he was soooo good at it ... All
these objects (stowed away, stored and kept as time capsules),
all these polaroids and other photographs, the sheer endless rows of images
that together spin his static and utterly boring but nevertheless so very
fascinating cinematographic tales ... The man never got
enough, he wanted to keep it all.
Much less visible, but at the very core of his work, are the many, many audio recordings that he made. He used a reel-to-reel recorder as of the mid of the 1950s and acquired his first audio cassette recorder in 1965. Speaking of early adopters... ANDY WARHOL referred to his dictaphone as his 'wife', and this was hardly a case of mistaken identity: he took her everywhere, and she bore him many children. WARHOL was an ardent taper of - mainly - conversations, and the bulk of his published writings consists in transcriptions (mostly done by others) of selections from his audio cassette recordings. Sources mention an archived collection of some 3 500 audio tapes, which are being kept at the ANDY WARHOL archives in Pittsburgh. Much of it still awaits full documentation.
Now, of course, that is the way I like it ... ( * )
Digital copies of a meager handful of these thousands of tapes can be listened to in the ANDY WARHOL Cosmos in the Stedelijk. Though it did not became clear to me how and why these few specific tapes were selected, still for me this is an absolute highlight in the exhibition: sit in the small audio booth niches (that inside are covered with foam to make them sound proof) and listen to the delicious lo-fi of some of WARHOL's audio recordings, being played back through two little speakers in the top of the booths. Excellent choice also to not have these play back through headphones ...
In the Filmscape 19 WARHOL films are being projected on large screen, simultaneously and continuously. This is a second highlight, and clearly the show's heart of the matter. But what to do? Sit down and watch? Walk around and switch attention from here to there, then come back? I looked for a spot where I would be able to watch at once as many of them as possible, with just the slightest of movement of one's head. But then I saw on one of the screens images of the Velvet Underground playing, and I wanted to hear what they sounded like. What I found myself looking at was WARHOL's 1966 film of the band playing at the Factory. After some minutes of tuning the quintet starts to jam, without in what follows ever showing the slightest intention to stop, also not when at some point the police walks in and turns down the amplifiers. Apparently that was because neighbors had been complaining about the noise. I was looking at the film, because the very set-up of the Filmscape unfortunately makes listening to the movies' soundtracks somewhat cumbersome. But I could count myself lucky to remember there was a copy (of at least part of it) among the stack of DVD's that FPCM had given me the other day. So I could lend it a closer ear that same evening. It sounds very big-city-sixties-garage-psychedelic; almost kraut in its rhythms and the at times hypnotic guitar drive, droning on, and on, and on. The quality of the film's sound is resplendently lo-fi. The jam's good and I think it sounds great. STERLING MORRISON and LOU REED play their guitars, with an indefatigable MAUREEN TUCKER sustaining a continuous simple but effective beat, from time to time 'pumped up' by JOHN CALE doing bass guitar. There is an arabic/indian feel to the intertwining and clashing melody lines that are picked on the guitars (with a lot of resonating open strings) and bowed by JOHN CALE on his viola. The band members are seated, which makes them look a bit like a chamber orchestra, and the all-over atmosphere is relaxed, almost homely. It is difficult to judge from the sound as it comes with the film, but I suspect that nevertheless the playing must've been pretty loud. There are several very noisy passages, with CALE using what must be a self-built device with a couple of large reverberation (?) springs (see the picture), and a lot of feedback. NICO is there but she doesn't sing. She hits a tambourine while her three or four year old son (ARI BOULOGNE) is playing around on the floor. In the second reel she moves the grip of a screwdriver over the strings of JOHN CALE's bass guitar for some time. The film (which is simply titled The Velvet Underground And Nico, and less simply subtitled: A Symphony of Sound) is shot in black & white, and has an awful lot of nervous and jaggy camera movements. WARHOL was the operator. He's zooming in, zooming out, sweeps to the left, sweeps to the right, goes out of focus for a while, lights are dimmed, put up again, et cetera ... The original intention of the filming apparently was merely to get footage for projection as a background during the band's life performances.
LOU REED was in Amsterdam for the opening party of "Other Voices, Other Rooms". He also did a photo exhibition in ROB MALASCH's Serieuze Zaken gallery, in the Bilderdijkstraat: Lou Reed's New York. Among LOU's NY pics there are a remarkable number of snaps of reddish clouds and other sky views, as if he is looking up most of the time. Actually, far more eye catching than the bulk of REED's photographs are a couple of polaroids that ROB MALASCH took when, as a young 'n' pretty boy, in the late 1970s he became the first dutch journalist to interview ANDY WARHOL in New York. ( ** ) Apart from these, also the other MALASCH's many Warhol and VU collectibles were on display. A nice collection, that was worth the stop at Serieuze Zaken. [ The Lou Reed's New York show closed at november 15th, 2007 ]
Just one block to the east of Serieuze Zaken I saw this bag in a shop window (click the picture to enlarge). All part of the still booming and largely nostalgia induced interest in cassette tapes, and more specifically the cassette tape's look ... Thus me and me Found Tapes found ourselves in a short piece about the 'le retour de la K7' in this month's edition of the french Trax magazine, mainly dedicated to electro and dance music. Curious, don't you think? In a related spirit young designers from all over currently show themselves inspired by the cassette format. It suffices to take a look at the cassette tape culture page at designboom's ( *** ). Sometimes they simply just use the image of a cassette. Like on the bag. I thought it so great looking that I could not resist. So I bought it. You may see me carrying it this weekend, when I am doing a short audio tape recovery workshop as part of the seventh parisian dorkbot, which in turn is part of the 2 day festival "Les Mondes Hors Pistes", celebrating 10 years of the Arte program "Tracks". The festival takes place on saturday 1 and sunday 2 december, from 13h to 21h, in the Espace Agnès B., Paris X. Which sort of brings us back to design, and the "El Hema" t-shirt that my daughter is wearing in the same picture where she holds my cassette bag.
The HEMA is a very dutch department store chain. Chiefly to generate some public attention around the creation of arabic companions for latin fonts by Arab-Dutch design teams, Mediamatic set up an arabic (miniature) version of the dutch HEMA in their gallery space (in the Post-CS building near the Amsterdam Central Station which also temporarily houses the Stedelijk Museum). In "El Hema" some of the typical HEMA products are given an arabic touch. And even though besides the t-shirts, other wearables, books, magazines, chocolate, halal smoked sausages, condoms, wine and a couple of gadgets there is nothing much to be seen nor had, in less than no time "El Hema" became a big media and audience hit. The real HEMA first strongly objected, but then on second thought supported the "El Hema" mix of art-project and shop, which - of course knowingly - posited itself in the very heart of ongoing discussions on multiculturality. On the whole "El Hema" was hailed as a good and a fun way of strengthening the Dutch-Arabische Freundschaft, despite criticism from both arabic and dutch sides.
Had I though about it earlier, and had I been in Amsterdam somewhat longer, I would surely have proposed to "El Hema" the addition of some fine dutch-arabic audio cassettes to their stock... "Found for El Hema" ...
[ The "El Hema" shop is open (entrance is free) and can be visited in Amsterdam until january 6th, 2008. As it is in same building as the ANDY WARHOL exhibition (entrance is not free unless you're a member of the Club), until that date you can do both in one go ... "Other Voices, Other Rooms" is in the Stedelijk Museum CS until january 13th, 2008. Those who have to miss this will get a second chance in Stockholm, Sweden, where the same exhibition will be on view from february 9th till may 4th, 2008. ]
[ Next related SB-entry: Rags 'n' riches ]
notes __ ::
(*) Warhol's Wife is an article by JEAN WAINWRIGHT on WARHOL's audio tapes and recording. It was published in Art Monthly, an° 254, march 2002. [ ^ ]
(**) The interview was published in the dutch magazine De Tijd in 1979. On the occasion of the current (attempt at a) WARHOL-mania I saw no less than two re-prints: one in the (informative and cheap) companion to the "Other Voices, Other Rooms" exposition in tabloid format, the other in the november 2007 issue of the dutch 'Mode Mensen Media Kunst' magazine Blend. [ ^ ]
(***) Thanks to Wolfgang Dorninger for this link [ ^ ]
tags: amsterdam, andy warhol, stedelijk museum, mediamatic
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