zaterdag 24 februari 2007

Tempo Doeloe : a tribute to the Dutch East Indies

Tempo Doeloe : a tribute to the Dutch East Indies.

A sentimental journey with the Willem Ruys of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd to the Dutch East Indies :

Batavia / Jakarta Tempo Doeloe :
Typical Jakarta market scenes :
The Tielman Brothers Black eyes live 1960:
People & music in Surabaya (Indonesia), Tunjungang aside of Mcdonalds, along the BasekiRahaat, to South, near the Tunjungang, Surabaya, Jawa-island, Indonesia1(Friday)/December/2006 17:11

vrijdag 23 februari 2007

Martien Coppens & Martin Parr

Martien Coppens

Martien Coppens was born in 1908, son of a clog maker from Lieshout, a village a stone's throw from the town of Eindhoven. Very soon he developed a remarkable interest for photography (on one of his school reports it is mentioned that the photography could actually use a bit less attention) and follows, exceptionally, an education abroad, in Munich. After some wandering, he establishes himself as independent photographer in Eindhoven. He works on request, but has a preference for free work and for what he callls artistic photography. His photos are authentic and realistic, although the quality of his work was not appreciated by all people at that time. Martien Coppens focused his camera quite often at Brabant farmers and workers, at church buildings, and at landscapes, such as De Peel, but he was also interested in the dynamics of a city such as Eindhoven and her industrial activity. He was an enterprising man who published about seventy photo books, of which some were well accepted by the public.

Martin Parr and Gerry Badger : The Photobook: A History volume 1/ Memory and Reconstruction : The Postwar European Photobook

Martien Coppens was responsible for a number of topographical photobooks during the 1930s and 1940s, documenting the architecture, landscape and art of his native Brabant. These were in a similar vein to the Publishing house Contact's De Schoonheid van ons Land (Our beatiful Country), showing a comparable focus on the cultural heritage of Holland. As the title of Contact's series implies, the kind of photography employed was traditional, large-format, topographically precise, with an emphasis on the picturesque, on heritage and continuity rather than change.
It was this kind of rhetoric that was employed by Coppens for his 1947 book Impressies 1945 (Impressions 1945), but his subject was radically different. He still concentrated on the Dutch landscape and architectural heritage, and photographed it in his usual romantic style, but now his theme was the Dutch heritage interrupted by the discontinuities and disruption of war. He chose the lighting carefully, often a combination of sun and cloud that would allow him to set a ruin picked out by sunlight against a glowering, cloudy sky. Add luscious gravure printing, and Coppens's ruins look less like real buildings than stage sets. In all of his work, and in this book in particular, Coppens opposed the prevailing trend in Dutch photography of the time, which was progressing towards a gritty, Existensial realism, and he was criticized for it by other photographers.
Coppens, who habitually dealt in nostalgia, photographed this devastated landscape in the only way he knew, even exaggerating the romantic rhetoric of the ruin. But like Jean Cocteau and Pierre Jahan in La Mort et la statues, Coppens demonstrated that there were many different ways in which artists and photographers could come to terms with what had happened to Europe.
Martien Coppens : Monsters van de Peel

Martien Coppens : Rond de peel

donderdag 8 februari 2007

Cor Jaring & Amsterdam in the Sixties

Jaring, Cor.
Dit hap-hap-happens in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, De Arbeiderspers, 1966. 8vo. Unpaged. Text by Henk J.Meijer, illustrated throughout with reproductions of Jaring's photographs of the sixties happenings in Amsterdam. Original wrappers. First edition.
It is 1964. Amsterdam. The world out there is divided in two kinds of people; the Pleiners (a nickname like squarers) – in the name of Leidseplein, at which ‘the port of call’ for writers, artists and poets Eylders pub – and the Dijkers (the ‘Dike’ men). It is a world Cor feels at home. He meets people who are different. Trendsetter and pacesetter definitely is Robert Jasper Grootveld. He is the self-pronounced Smoke Magician, known from his own proverb ‘a content smoker is no troublemaker’. He established his Smoke Temple in 1963.Cor’s newly found friends from the square and others find a kind of shelter in the shape of a small house Cor’s father makes available. Among the merry, spiritual bunch are – well known in the Netherlands – Frans de Boer Lichtveld, Johnny van Doorn (Johnny the Selfkicker) Joop Bielemans, Marijke Koger, Simon Posthuma, Betty van Garrel, and Theo Niemeyer.Cor takes his first picture of Robert Jasper Grootveld, the moment he performs as ‘anti-smoke magician’ at the statue Lieverdje (the nickname the provocative Provo people gave to the statue they respected as their icon). Cor missed the 1st Provo Happening ‘Open the Grave, but he is present at ‘Stoned in the Streets’. It is open air theatre acting we talk about. Playful, humourous, and full of phantasy. In the following years the so-called happenings changed: the emerging of Provo group and its manifestations slightly acquire a political atmosphere.
All encompassing: enveloping the whole world, including people from all walks of life. Even the rabble is to play their role as disapproving critics feeling fooled. ‘Sour faces’, who can be ‘turned’ to thinking differently through Happenings and friendly stimulants, in order to make the world a better and nicer place. One big playgarden, so to speak. There is nothing unhuman to Provo, so trendsetters and leaders emerge, such as Roel van Duyn, Rob Stolk, Peter Bronkhorst, Luud Schimmelpenninck and Hans Tuynman. Provo becomes a movement, grows and virtually bursts from the seams. The establishment beckons, and Provo represents itself in the municipal council. In order to control ‘the end’ itself, Provo was laid as foundling in the Vondelpark in the rouring infamous 60. That happened when freedom of speech was about to be organised by the establishment, wanting to set up a ‘speakers corner’.

Expertise and know-how gained in life and absorbed at various places will never be lost. Well-known men in Amsterdam Kees Hoekert, Theo Klei and Max Reneman saw to a follow-up of Provo issues stated in the so-called Witte Plannen (White Plans) in 1968. They established the fact that ‘there are few butterflies left’, and drew up the Insect Sect. Robert Jasper Grootveld helps out again. The Butterfly Opera came about, and plans are developed to deal with the problem of dog’s droppings, and the pollution of the Amsterdam canals. Kees Hoekert built floating flotillas. The Deskundologisch Laboratorium (laboratory of expertise) was established, which took quite a number of initiatives, using the mission statement ‘everything which needs common sense and does not boggle the mind’. In short: Provo created a heritage, which formed the base for the environmental movement of later years.
Flower Power
Nobody has ever doubted is: Amsterdam is the Magic Centre (of the universe). Trendsetter Robert Jasper Grootveld promoted the image of ‘the content smoker is no troublemaker’. In the sixties the advise was taken to heart by countless so-called hippies, who ‘nestle themselves as a ‘flock of happiness seekers’ in the Magic Centre, and under the Vondelpark trees in particular. The feeling of freedom fills the air like a sweet perfume for society. The civil society picks up the idea and invents the slogan ‘tell it with flowers’ (in the typical Dutch sense of let your heart talk by giving a bunch of flowers).

Protest without violence, but centainly against violence. The anti-Vietnam campaigns are outlet of the dissatisfied men, who call Johnson a Murderer. Again it is Robert Jasper Grootveld who shows his ability to solve problems and fight poverty. He does that symbolically at the Lievertje statue by "exchanging our prosperity for sand from developing countries and provoke a multi-national moving house, as a cultural exchange avant-la-lettre". Protest without violence, but centainly against violence. The anti-Vietnam campaigns are outlet of the dissatisfied men, who call Johnson a Murderer. Again it is Robert Jasper Grootveld who shows his ability to solve problems and fight poverty. He does that symbolically at the Lievertje statue by "exchanging our prosperity for sand from developing countries and provoke a multi-national moving house, as a cultural exchange avant-la-lettre". In Amsterdam the proverbial house is on fire when building constructor Jan Weggelaar dies, not through violence as rumour has it, but because of a heart-attack. This comes out in the open later, but the damage is already done. Only briefly tracks of rage and destruction are seen in the city. The atmosphere is grim.

It becomes more and more grim everywhere. The so-called White Housing-plan started with the ‘occupation’ of an empty cinema, which offered shelter for the plenty. Later the plan involves neglected premises of shady landlords. The Magic Centre attracts countless visitors from abroad, and the Vondelpark does not provide a starry night every night. Large building being structurally empty for speculative reasons are discovered. Squatters turn these places upside-down. It provokes other things to happen: some become aware how to get a sound thrashing. It is the way downhill from ideological squatting to ideal or common ‘living for free’. Later a bizar form emerge: that of the organised anti-squatter occupation of houses. It is 1964. Amsterdam. The world out there is divided in two kinds of people; the Pleiners (a nickname like squarers) – in the name of Leidseplein, at which ‘the port of call’ for writers, artists and poets Eylders pub – and the Dijkers (the ‘Dike’ men).

maandag 5 februari 2007

Ed van der Elsken & Amsterdam in the Sixties

As far as the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies are concerned, Ed van der Elsken was one of the great documentary photographers. An exuberant chronicler of his times, van der Elsken's unrestrained passion for life translated into a rapacious, experimental photography. Enormously respected in his native Holland, van der Elsken is little known in Britain (certainly in comparison to American contemporaries such as William Klein or Robert Frank, with whom he is often compared), and this survey exhibition of his work in photography and film, gives the opportunity to appraise his pivotal position between pre-war street photographers such as Weegee and Brassai, and the emotive, ultra-subjectivist photography of Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, that came after him.
Ed van der Elsken moved to Paris in 1950, joining many young Dutch artists and intellectuals seeking respite from the gloomy aftermath of the war in Amsterdam. Love on the Left Bank (1956), created during this period, remains his most celebrated work and the one which secured his reputation in the early 1950s. A noir novel-in-images, it follows a circle of drifting post-war youth, young people whose lives, and ideals, have been devastated by the war. Leading a nocturnal, aimless existence punctuated by drink, drugs and sex, van der Elsken's free spirits personify the restless hedonism, and the nihilistic spirit that was to animate the French New Wave. Most memorable amongst his subjects is the gorgeous, vampiric, opium-addicted Vali Myers, a girl who didn't see daylight for three years. During this time van der Elsken was friends with Karel Appel and Cobra emigrés, as well as leading figures in the emergent Lettrist movement and the Situationist International, and found himself in a cultural milieu where the mood was at once desperately melancholic and defiantly anarchistic.
Returning to Amsterdam in 1954, van der Elsken started to experiment with colour photography, and to pioneer a cinema-vérité style of film-making (even inventing his own portable movie camera), in order to produce the most immediate, most unmediated imagery possible. The exhibition includes excerpts from several seminal films: The Infatuated Camera (1971) and A Photographer Films Amsterdam, (1982), among others. He began to travel extensively - around the world in 1959, and then regularly visited Japan, Hong Kong and Africa. He was one of the first photographers to realise that the photography book was a very specific medium with its own unique possibilities, and Sweet Life, (1966) the book which emerged from his first global tour, is still an extraordinarily innovative publication.
As the decades pass, the mood in van der Elsken's photography shifts from post-war despondency to the permissive optimism of the flowerpower era, back to a sense of tainted idealism post-Woodstock. Van der Elsken was always in one sense an outsider drawn to outsiders. Fiercely anti-capitalist, equally anti-communist, he was never an ideologue. His signature images of rebellious youth - whether Dutch rockers or Japanese 'yakuza'(gangsters) - are driven by a sense of personal identification and celebration, rather than social protest. Unusually for a documentary photographer there is rarely any pretense of neutrality or detached observation: he is always, himself, emotionally and dramatically present in his photographs. Sometimes gentle and romantic, sometimes shrill, vulgar, even obscene, van der Elsken is invariably uncompromising and direct in his approach. And never more so than Bye, (1990) his final, valedictory film which chronicles his slow decay from prostate cancer. He died on 28 December, 1990.
Kate Bush