woensdag 29 augustus 2012

Around the world with Woody Allen - 'To Rome With Love'

By Nathalie Maciesza

It hasn’t gone unnoticed: Woody Allen’s new film “To Rome With Love” had its release in the Dutch cinema’s last week. As the title suggests Allen has chosen the eternal city as the décor for his 42nd film. I went, I saw, I recommend it to you.

The film opens with the credits, set to a black background in the font Allen always uses in his films, we can hear the Italian song “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu” by Domenico Modugno and my heart skips a beat. Some may call it cliché, I call it charming. As the film unravels we meet many characters that all have their stories put together by Allen in a kaleidoscopic telling. There is the young architect  Jack (Jesse Eisenberg. Yes, the “Facebook”-guy) who falls in love with his girlfriend’s best friend, an actress you want to shoot after a mere five minutes. Jack is accompanied by a famous American architect (or the older version of himself?), played by Alec Baldwin, who comments on the situation. Also we meet newlyweds Antonio and Milly who have come to Rome for their honeymoon. Milly gets losts in the streets of Rome and sees her hidden desires come to life, while Antonio winds up in a situation where he must pretend that the beautiful prostitute Anna (Penelope Cruz) is his young wife. A film set in Rome wouldn’t be complete without Italy’s funniest citizen Roberto Benigni, whose character is a parody on the concept of “15 minutes of fame”. He is a middle class office clerk who, without any obvious reason, becomes a star, stalked by paparazzi and interviewed on national television on what he had for breakfast. This storyline is one of the two most absurd, surrealistic and funny segments of the film. The other one is where Woody Allen himself plays a retired opera director who is visiting his daughter, a satirical role based on himself. His daughter’s soon to be father-in-law could be an extraordinary opera singer, the problem is just that he only sings well in the shower. Of course, Woody Allen’s character has a solution for this and makes it his personal mission of turning this simple undertaker into an opera star. “A foolish man once said: stuff happens” is a quote from this film, which is precisely what Allen wants to show us. Stuff - funny, irritating, charming, real, love themed stuff.

Love is one of the most frequent themes in the oeuvre of Woody Allen. “Annie Hall” is an ode to his former wife Diane Keaton and “Hannah and Her Sisters” reveals the gaps between what seem to be healthy, solid relationships, to mention only two of his brilliant films that explore the human psyche, behavior and relationships. Allen does not only love love, he loves beautiful cities as well. In “To Rome With Love”  we are presented with amazing shots of the city, accompanied by a soundtrack that makes you want to drink Chianti all night, while dancing on the banks of the Arno with a well-dressed man called Giancarlo. This is not a film that unveils the social and political problems of Italy, that tells the stories of the haggard middle class and must be seen as a clear manifesto. Neither need it immediately be given awards at every Film Festival for being edgy and provocative. But who gives a damn, it’s the great Woody Allen taking us on a touristic tour of Rome, making us laugh with his sketch-like scenes and making fun of absolute stereotypes. The film is not without meaning and moral though: it is about the human desire to be loved and the urge to explore hidden desires As the “narrators” in the beginning and end of the film say, “these are only a couple of stories, come to Rome to hear the rest of them”.

Watching the film is almost like taking a short trip to the city of Romulus and Remus. Allen ‘glammed it up’ a bit, but sometimes that’s just how we like it. Having Allen as a tour guide, we have had the opportunity to visit quite a number of cities over the last few years. Shooting films in New York has become a very expensive undertaking, being the reason that after  “Manhattan” Allen decided to travel to Europe and film his love stories here. In “Match Point” Jonathan Rhys Meyers makes extra-marital love to Scarlet Johansson in London. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” brought the same bombshell actress to Barcelona to be teamed up with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz and the latter actress has been flown to Rome now, after Allen made a pit stop in Paris filming “Midnight in Paris” . We can only wait and see which city Allen will use as the backdrop for a new film next. Cannes, Moscow, Copenhagen or maybe Amsterdam? 

vrijdag 24 augustus 2012

Best Of Graduates

by Rosa Kieft

Before the start of summer art lovers get spoiled with the graduation shows of all the art academies. Nothing better than wandering around in an academy building exploring the newest of the newest. Gallery Ron Mandos shopped around and invited artists from every Dutch art academy to show in his gallery. Good for who missed the graduation shows and wants to see a tiny bit of the new generation. 

Sofia Montenegro made a portrait of this generation with 'Conversations of the Last Decade'. She made a list in alphabetical order with all words that have been added to the Oxford dictionary the last decade. For example: 'leaderless resistance', 'queer nation' and 'talibanization'. The words are dictated while the video shows images with every word. The images look like they are copy-pasted from google and work connotative. Automatically the result is that the words tell the story of 2000 till now. 

Niels van Bunningen

Historically interesting as well is the work by Niels van Bunningen. Three big heads who seem to be in a transformation in becoming zombies stare into the space with golden eyes and golden teeth. They each wear a different costume, one has a tie, one has a working cloth and one wears a nazi uniform. Niels van Bunningen explains that they are metaphors for three ideologies that failed in the last century: capitalism, communism and fascism. These figures of history, made by great craftsmanship, are staring miserably into the gallery.

Ola Lanko, '100 gram of rice'

Ola Lanko pictured a 100 gram of rice. Literally. Every grain of the total 4560 is photographed, placed on a dark green shiny background and funny enough every different rice grain has its own sculptural quality. The pictures put together on a wall look like kitchen tiles. The detailed documentation has a pixel-like feeling but overview is impossible and actually unnecessary. 

Ramon Schoonbrood

Identity crisis seems a decease for the twenty-agers of nowadays. Ramon Schoonbrood made a very striking floor piece about feeling worthless. Superman is drawn with wires that lay loose on the ground. He's pointing to the words "My worthless life". Walking around the work changes the perspective on the image and disfigures it. Is Ramon saying there is not only one way of looking at your life and that if you take a different point of view everything looks loose and yet to be shaped? 

The artists selected by Ron Mandos seem all very conscious about history, society and the visual language. Are they the best of graduates? Who is to tell. Being in the context of each other doesn't take it further than any other graduation show. But, they are probably the ones to watch.

Gallery Ron Mandos
Prinsengracht 282  

donderdag 9 augustus 2012

Filippa K AW 2012

By Steven van den Haak

Although being a world wide brand, Filippa K consitently keeps things simple. Classic silhouettes and basic shapes result in a timeless and chic collection.

                   copyright Filippa K

Simplicity is the second name of the brand, but it never loses its sense of luxury. This results in Filippa K being thé place to go whenever in need of strong, simple and high quality basics. Although the current times of crisis give us enough reasons to go for timeless simplicity, even Filippa K cannot resist adding a little detail. Shoes with zipper openings are a perfect example of how a detail can make something radiate a vibrant minimalist feel. Vibrance and minimalism might sound as a paradoxical combination, however Filippa K shows that, with the right amount of Scandanavian swagger, this can be a very happy couple. Ethnic motifs in black and white add, just like the zipper shoes, a little more detail, keeping the classic and simple shapes interesting.

                   copyright Filippa K

Because of simplicity and timeless classic silhouettes being the two main characteristics of Filippa K, it is often accused of having no brand signature. This might be true in a certain extent, however truly simple and timeless clothes are a rather difficult goal to reach, and Filippa K succeeds and hits quite the right note in keeping her basic garments interesting. 

donderdag 2 augustus 2012

Amsterdam Fashion Week Day 2 – Melissa Siegrist, Individuals, Karssenberg-Greidanus

By Steven van den Haak

Day two gave a great overview of the younger generation that presented its collections during the fashion week. Melissa Siegrist, Individuals and Karssenberg-Greidanus all showed,  despite of their differences, a similar state of mind. The sensibility of our time, called metamodernism, presented itself through sober and natural fabrics, reinvented classic shapes, yet retaining their traditional essence, and an overall relaxed feel.

                                Melissa Siegrist SS2013, copyright Peter Stigter.

This sense of leisure and relaxing was strongest noticeable in the collection of Melissa Siegrist. She presented sportswear inspired leisurewear made out of beige linen, elegantly piped with white and black.  The clothes had a kind of relaxed feel that reminded of minimalistic American sportswear. The link to sportswear, however, did not decrease the luxury that radiated from the collection. This sense of luxury even intensified when a crisp golden tank top combined with gold linen shorts appeared on the runway. The smart combination of the sobriety of the linen and the gold it was dyed with only increased the richness of the garment. Although gold most of the time instantly reminds of opulence and decadence, the fact that the fabric actually is linen gave these pieces a more modest feel and an intellectual depth, immediately making this collection more than just clothes, more interesting.  

                          Melissa Siegrist SS2013, copyright Peter Stigter.

The minimalism of the clothes, the sharp lines, the graphic details and the smart use of piping, gave a little hint of Siegrist’s inspiration for the collection, among others Berlin’s modernist architecture. Her other source of inspiration, American sportswear, was more obvious, but nonetheless appropriated in excellence.

                   Individuals SS2013, copyright Peter Stigter.

The students from AMFI who did Individuals, always a show to look forward to, clearly took inspiration from tribal dressing and the Middle East. Beading and braiding, weaving and macramé, gold jewelry and a lot of veils and cloaks reminded strongly of the orientalism and exotism we know from the last fifty years of the 19th century, however applied in a very contemporary way. This nostalgia and longing for exotic places, non-Western customs and going back to the pre-civilized bon sauvage are not only the main characteristics of the 19th century Romanticism, but play also an important role in above mentioned metamodernism (read more about metamodernism on www.metamodernisme.com).  
Strong were all the leather pieces, with a brown leather hoody as one of the best garments of the whole collection. Outerwear in general was strong, but a rather large part of it (the whole collection actually) reminded of last season’s collection of Individuals. Of course this is what happens at every label, elements from former collections are re-used, in a different way and in combination with new elements. However, the similarities between the former and the latter show are too close. But this does not make this a bad collection. As mentioned before there were certain garments that excelled in execution and design. 
What did turn off the collection was styling. Often overdone and with an extravaganza of jewelry and accessories, doubt did rise concerning the taste level of the stylist. The combination of the gold jewelry with the white draped garments was definitely not the best choice.

             Individuals SS2013, copyright Peter Stigter.

Some of the pieces did have true potential and were definitely strong. Unembellished as they were, they would have been great on the runway, solely and without all the dangling jewelry and accessories. A simple black leather bomber jacket, for example, slightly longer than usual but fitted at the shoulders, was dispite of all its simplicity a true height.
There was a lot of draping, a lot of playing with proportion and a lot of contrasting textures as leather and jersey. These three can work very well together, think of Damir Doma or Rick Owens. However at Individuals every time there was something just off, a slightly too long tail of a coat or an over-exaggerated skirt.

                   Karssenberg-Greidanus FW2012-13, copyright Peter Stiger.

As if they had anticipated on the dark rainclouds that loomed over Amsterdam, Sanne Karssenberg and Cleo Greidanus presented a collection that would certainly keep the wearer dry. Raindrop-like appliqués and mud smeared wellington boots both signaled the typically Dutch rainy weather in a small but well-composed collection.
‘Protection’ was what the collection seemed to be about, with big draped raincoats and latex cowls that covered not only the hair of the models, but also partly their faces. The first model even had her whole upper body covered in an enormous balloon, which when back at the start of the runway she let explode. The collection was, however, not about enclosure. Coats were hanging open and floating behind the models, the balloon exploded and showed us the model’s face: it was also about opening up.

          Karssenberg-Greidanus FW2012-13, copyright Peter Stiger.

During the balloon scene we experienced a slight Chalayan-vibe, as the baloon after exploding transformed into a skirt and this first look set the tone for the rest of the show. Heavy hardware contrasted sharply with the supple and floating raincoats, and their play with texture, nylon versus rubber, latex versus shear fabric was elegant and interesting. But the most fascinating were the latex veils. Latex always instantly reminds of fetish. Veils, especially draped in this particular way, most of the time signify the Islamic culture. Add to this the muddy wellies and the raincoats (in our eyes symbols for the Dutch weather) and the outcome might be the role of Islamic women in the Netherlands. Did the designers want to create fashionable raincoats for Muslims? Or were the veils just styling. Either way: it suited the collection. 

zaterdag 28 juli 2012

Unfolding, an exhibition at Paul Andriesse

How do we remember things? What do we frame, what is forgotten and what changes unconsciously in our mind? Unfolding is a group show with references to memories, though not in a nostalgic way. Recently graduated artists from art academies St. Joost in Breda, Rietveld in Amsterdam and KASK in Gent show their work in gallery Paul Andriesse. Each with their own element of remembering.

Irene O'Callaghan, Aluminium Foil, 2010

At the entrance of the gallery, on a small Ipad screen, the video 'Meat Garden' is shown. Katarina Hruskova takes us away with a story about her grandmother who used to pour animal fat on her garden. Images of rotten vegetables appear in the video as she tells the story. It sounds like Katarina shares a personal memory but soon the listener starts to doubt wether this is reality. There is something surrealistic about it.

Katarina Hruskova, Meat Garden (film still), 2010
Katarina Hruskova, Meat Garden (film still), 2010

In a series of mountains and colanders Irene O'Callaghan triggers to think about our perception of the inside and outside. There seems only one way to picture the mountains outside as they are massive and unchangeable. On the other hand the colander inside plays with our imagination, is it a lamp, an UFO or a viking cap? Inside the corners of our homes imagination makes up a lot. 

Irene O'Callaghan, Untitled, 2011

In the corner of the gallery the sculpture of Kato Six suddenly is visible and draws the attention. The architectural sculpture is a study of how she remembers spaces. What happens with lines, forms and proportions when a space is memorized? By using materials such as wood and a bright shiny polyester ball she also refers to a certain sense of materiality, as well for her sculpture as for spaces.

Kato Six, Untitled, 2012

The works that are shown in Unfolding seem to deal with a self consciousness of time and space, created by these young artists in the start of their career. Go and see!

'Unfolding' is curated by Melchior Jaspers and Rosa Kieft
Works by: Irene O'Callaghan, Katarina Hruskova, Anne Huijnen, Kato Six and Marcel Suurmond
On show at Galerie Paul Andriesse (westerstraat 187, Amsterdam) until august 18.

donderdag 19 juli 2012

Amsterdam Fashion Week Day 1 – Claes Iversen & Marga Weimans

By Steven van den Haak

The Amsterdam Fashion Week started off with shimmering couture, flowering dresses and avant-garde conceptualism. Claes Iversen showed the chicest of chic, as we were expecting from him, with a smart mix of minimalism and romanticism. Marga Weimans, on the other hand, had created a beautiful, yet challenging collection, heavily loaded with references to the history of slavery and the suppression of women.

                   Claes Iversen SS 2013, copyright Peter Stigter

Iversen’s show started off with very stark and minimal garments in which the models seemed protected against the worst the world would have to offer. During the show more and more details started to pop and eventually fake flowers bloomed on shoulders, skirts, covering whole dresses. The collection, gradually shifting from this stark minimal aesthetic to extravagant flower embossed gowns, seemed to tell a story of fashion history, going from the minimalism of the nineties to the new romanticism we see nowadays. Ending with lavish flowers, the collection could be interpreted as a statement for more sensibility and feeling in fashion, forecasting an end to the strict minimalism we saw the last few years on the runway.

                   Claes Iversen SS 2013, copyright Peter Stigter

                Although Iversen seemed to take a stand against minimalism, strong minimalistic influences were evident. His play with volume, proportion and the strong architectural shapes reminded of Céline, the combination of different textiles of Balenciaga. The romanticism, the flowers, the pleading and beading, signified influence of the likes of Viktor&Rolf and Lanvin. All these different vibes and movements combined into one collection resulted in a rather confusing show: what direction had Iversen planned to go?
                Although slightly all over the place, Iversen’s show was one of the chicest collections of all fashion week. In the past, Iversen’s work sometimes was too ‘old’ for the young girls showing it, this year, however, the garments were wearable for all ages. Dresses combining the two major themes of the collection, minimalism and romanticism, had a youthful dynamic vibe. These pieces, literally molded together in asymmetrical compositions with the one half clean and simple, the other half blooming with sequins, beading and flowers, said everything Iversen had to say with this collection. There is no need to pick a side, Iversen seems to state, we just need to combine the best of both worlds. Curiosity rises for his next collection, for no matter how interesting this juxtaposition of minimalism and romanticism might be, it certainly needs some more research.

                   Marga Weimans couture 2012, copyright Peter Stigter

Weimans raised the bar with a highly conceptual and avant-garde collection. As expected Weimans did not just present fashion, the runway looked like a walking work of conceptual art. The prints of the dresses were strongly reminiscent of traditional Surinam costume, while the upper body reminded of 18th century court dress. This connection between the colonies and aristocratic Europe was even more accentuated by the metal and wood constructions the models were shackled in. Although the first one looked it a bit like a suitcase, the later ones could only be seen as abstract interpretations of torture machinery. Counting up all this symbolism - Surinam, 18th century Europe, captivity in metal framework - one could easily conclude that Weimans was referring to her Surinam heritage, and especially the slavery that took place during that era.  

                   Marga Weimans couture 2012, copyright Peter Stigter

 There are, however, more layers in Weimans’s collection. The tightly corseted bodies of the dresses, the enclosure of the models in metal torture frames and the incredibly high shoes by Jan Jansen also signaled the suppression of women. As the models opened the frames during the finale and stepped out of their cages, a sense of feminism overcame us. The women freed themselves.
Under the classical corseted bodies a crinoline would not be out of place. However, Weimans placed geometrical shapes underneath the billowing skirts, creating completely new shapes and silhouettes. The visual language she showed with this collection is an utterly different sound in the world of Dutch fashion. Originality and an intellectual depth are what separate Marga Weimans from the rest. No wonder that, without ever having showed before on Amsterdam Fashion Week, Weimans already has international fame. Having showed during two Paris haute couture weeks, multiple museum exhibitions and a vast part of her work being bought by the Groninger Museum, she is definitely one to watch.