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"folklore" Tag


Old sailors do not whistle!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Old school sailors

My class-mate Olga makes beautiful old school tattoos with markers and colorful felt-pens. Maybe for her graphic hand or maybe because she was for a year on a sailing ship, the Falcon.


Roses, sacred hearts, daggers and anchors are her favorite subjects, exactly like the Old School style tells. Black lines draw easy and round figures that have to be filled with solid colors. Thanks to the sailors coming from exotic places (like the Philippines where Olga’s family come from) during the XVIII and XIX centuries who had contact with different tattoo arts and cultures. For sailors tattoos were a sign to remember adventures and reason to tell stories. In the beginning of ’900 the tattoo practice started to arrive in the western important ports with the same sailors were opening small tattoos studios. Sailor Jerry (1911-1973) is the initiator of the style in Honolulu
in a notoriously neighborhood, frequented by the best names in prostitution and crime and, as always, by the well sailors. What shock me most of the Old Style is the elastic feature in design that from aggressive and poetic can become sensual and delicate. In the western society it easily changes attitude being used also from elegant women in visible and provocative places, maybe trying to imitate the sensual free body language of the same sex over ocean.

picture of William Vander Weyde, (1871-1929)

From my researches one of the first country that adopted tattoos was England, from the sailing in Polynesia, in the middle 18th Captain Samuel Wallis, French explorer, was one of the first to write about tattoos: “universal custom among men and women to get their buttocks and the back of their thighs painted with thin black lines representing different figures”.
The polynesian women were having their first tattoo at the age of 12. From that point tattoos were defining roles, position in society and head also religious meaning. The design of Polynesian tattoos was a Tribal style: geometric forms and stylization from natural element. It was really different from what we know about the Old School style of the sailors. I didn’t understand exactly what was the western approach to the indigenous culture in the case of tattoos and what european people kept from it. I think they were really fascinated by the act, painful and beautiful at the same

time. Looking at pictures of european and american women full of tattoos at the beginning of the 1900, i was thinking about their role in society, how was possible at the time of the “belle époque” to look like a polynesian? I didn’t find a lot, but in one of the most famous example there’s Nora, daughter of Martin Hildebrandt who in 1846 opens the first U.S. tattoo shop in New York City, servicing from both sides of the Civil War. Nora, rises to fame in the 1890s when she tours with the Barnum and Bailey Circus as the Tattooed Lady.

[by Sara Cattin]

Never on a Friday

Not a gem of the Amsterdamse School, the HMS Falken nevertheless originates in Dutch craftsmanship as a ‘Schoener’ first set afloat in 1947 and still sails the Seven Seas. The term or idea of the Seven Seas was coined as early as 2300 BC, but as many myths and legends at sea, the stories change. However, they do survive. Some might not think that brave and adventurous men at sea waste their time and occupy their minds with silly stories and folklore but more so than anything else – that’s exactly what they do. Sailors are without doubt the most superstitious people I’ve ever met. Among loads of quirky habits and traditions, these are a few does and don’ts you should consider when embarking a ship:

  • Don’t put your left foot down first when going aboard.
  • Sail out on a Sunday when leaving the port, never on a Friday.
  • If you meet a priest, a redhead or women without shoes on your way to the ship – stay at home for the rest of the day, don’t leave the port.
  • Keep a black cat on board for good luck; all other black items are banned.
  • Don’t kill any birds if you run out of food at sea. Especially not an albatross. Birds will bring you to land, but most important; albatrosses carries the souls of dead sailors.
  • Do keep your eyes open for nude women; it’s good luck. That’s also why the figurehead in the bow of the ship often is a female (with one breast bare in good taste).
  • Wear earrings, they will enhance your eyesight. Sailors ought to wear a golden earring in case they’ll drown and get found ashore because it will finance their funeral.
  • Don’t light a cigarette or pipe on a candle, if the candle blows out you’re doomed.
  • Don’t whistle. Whistling resembles the wind in the sails and will for sure call upon the storm.

Keep this in mind and you’ll likely go along with the skipper.


Anne Bonny & Mary Read [x]

[by Olga Nordwall]

Eat sleep create?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Detail from the flee
Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry,c.1066. People eat, sleep, breed and create.

In this post I will quickly address to a specific example and a specific theory that goes into this subject. Even though we do not see art as a necessity to life, as long as we life there tends to be creativity. Apparently they go together, they feed each other. How are they linked? Besides sleeping, eating and breeding, do we need culture? If it does not contribute to surviving, why is it there? Man has been carving in caves, painting in sand and weaving threads to tell stories that will survive us. You could say this is a pattern in human existence. If storytelling or archiving in either books or objects is a pattern, is creation equal to basic need? Researching this subject I found the Bayeux Tapestry to be a nice study case. Tapestry’s made at the time of the Bayeux Tapestry are often described as folk art. Folk art, a concept that is very well explained by Jean Dubuffet, typically embodies traditional forms and social values. It originally suggested crafts and decorative skills associated with peasant communities in Europe – though presumably it could equally apply to any indigenous culture. It has broadened to include any product of practical craftsmanship and decorative skill. Folk art has also a utilitarian characteristic to it. Utilitarian because it displays the life events of a collective, rather than an individual experience. This social or collective aspect of it makes it interesting to research in association to social behavior. When looking at cultural history there are bluntly put two ways to look at the history: through folklore culture and through ‘elite’ art culture.
Art in the 14th century was a male dominated field. Artists worked a lot for commissions, and painting can be seen as the biggest medium. It represents an elite culture because the elite financed most paintings. On the opposite the folklore culture deals with a great collective history. Woman, left on the shores while their man went out for wars or exploration, stood together and shared their lives in many ways. It is no wonder then, that most of the folklore art, made by these women in particularly, is usually subject to a specific event in their lives. The documentation we know nowadays, is the same as the folk art way of storytelling of these long last centuries.


Greec Vase 570 BC, Trajan Column Rome, Captain America vs the Axis of Evil, a message from the Minestry of Homeland Security.

Although you could argue that the Bayeux Tapestry is not an example of folk art, I would say it is. It is true that the tapestry was made as a commission and the ‘team’ of people who made it where highly classified workers who were selected to work for the state of England. But think about it. It is not about who made it that much, it is about the specific choice for this medium. Each medium talks and feeds our minds differently, not only visually. So the English King and Queen wanted to document this period of Great War. They could also have chosen any other medium besides tapestry. They could get a painter to make a huge war scene; they could pick a hero from the battlefield and give him a statue. But they chose for the medium of textiles. And there is a reason for this choice. The Bayeux Tapestry is made in this form so that the people could relate to it. It is made as a form of propaganda to underline connections between the English crown and the bishop at the time in England. Also there are small references to the Normandy regime, undermining their power and choosing a more heroic English version of the battlefield. The Bayeux Tapestry, or actually the real technique is embroidery, is like a modern propaganda youTube movie. Looking at it shows no difference to ‘real’ amature paste-up movies. In this case there is surely a strategy behind it. I do not want to go into this too much, or make it a conspiracy story, but it seems not more than logical to me that a mass medium is not always just directing the masses of the people. It can also be used to address the elite, because it appeals so much to the mass. Susan Sontag already wrote it in on photography. Amateur pictures and art photography are different. They talk different. But this difference is a strength you can use.

So from which desire does folk art come? In researching the essence of why we create the basic question first is what is there to create from? Philosophers have written many theories about how we perceive the world. Choosing one of the many, I focus on the theory of Lacan. It describes three ways in which the world is ordered. It is interesting because it suggests that the way we life, think, and create are prior to eating, sleeping and breading. This all comes from Lacan’s theory on the three world orders, being the real, the symbolic and the imaginary.

Lacan’s order of the Real finds a lot of similarities with the well known philosophical term ‘die welt an sich’. The real order is the objective outside world, known as a whole, without any conceptual boundaries set by language. This order always remains invisible for the subject, never to grasp. The symbolic order is the world the way we experience it through language, image, story, and so on. Every conceptual possibility in words is used to give form to the imaginary order. That imaginary order is the world of desire and fantasy. It is not only desire and fantasy as we know it in de Freudian way.
In Lacan’s theory the imaginary refers to every single subjective experience through the real. In the three orders it is clear that the imaginary order is something that is fundamental to our being. We think, or at least we would like to believe so. Every thought, desire, fantasy or whatever you experience non-materialistically fits into this order. But it did not come there by a gift of god. Like I said above, the three orders feed each other. Our experience comes from the real world, but what we notice of this is depending on the symbolic order. In a way the symbolic order determines what we explore of this real order. Then again, the imaginary takes all these concepts deriving from the symbolic order into consideration and is able to give some output.
This output needs a concept, definition, or even materialization to be noticed and to be justified. And this is the point were culture comes in. From this I understand that culture is like a snowball. It takes along things that stick, it leaves out things that don’t.  It starts small but picks up along the way and grows and grows and grows. When accepting this theory it is very logically that creation is a fundamental part of our existence, because we need concepts and objects to think. Without thinking we cannot react.
What for example the Bayeux Tapestry is showing us, is in a way nothing new to what we already know: we shape and create our own existence. This does not come after the first basic surviving needs of eating sleeping breading etc; it goes parallel next to it.

The making of Medium Girl


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When DHL delivered the package with the traditional Zeeuws costume to the Bristol Hotel in Athens, Greece, I immediately ripped it open, only to find a stack of different fabrics in various sizes, textures and colours.
I had no idea what to do with these mostly two-dimensional pieces of cloth, what was supposed to go where and how.
This knowledge-gap became the works’ major point: what is the perception of a traditional cultural expression by someone from another country (and in this case I regard the city of Amsterdam as another country in relation to Zeeland as well) grown up in an era where self-examination and focusing on the present and future prevailed over historical awareness and/ or cultural pride.

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In short: a young Danish woman of gigantic proportions who happened to pass by on the streets of Athens was lured into the hotel room, to be dressed and undressed in different combinations by an innocent Greek woman, using the separate elements of the costume to create a whole new image of national identity.

Barbara Visser, Winner of the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art (2008) check out her new website.

Medium Girl (1996)
video, 6 x 30′

Everybody L.oves Kirchner


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

E.verybody L.oves Kirchner

Why should you nót love him?

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was not just a painter or a graphic designer, as you all know him.

He was much more.

He was a man with a love for tapestry and textile design.

The good old art of weaving a tapestry, painting with wool, communication with textile.

We all have textile around us and on us but what value has it for us nowadays? Especially old folkloric textile design.

I got in e-mail contact with a textile- and tapestry designer and the fashion photographer who shot “Dutch Folklore” for Elle.

Thanks to E.L Kirchner.

Ludwig_Kirchner

Zinc


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lucy Sarneel (born 1961 in Maastricht) says; “In my jewellery various materials, as for instance zinc, textile, silver, gold, wood, appear. However the main metal I work in is zinc. Besides of the fact that its blue-grey color reminds me of the Dutch sea and sky it also represents the area between black and white, life and death. It refers to daily-life objects of the past like a washtub (in which my mother used to bath me when I was a toddler), a bucket or (still nowadays) a flower box.. Furthermore it associates with protection because of its use in for instance steel rooftops or rain-pipes to prevent them from rusting.

As a prominent participant in the “Gone With The Wind” exhibition held in the Zuiderzeemuseum (mrt-okt ’09), Lucy Sarneel was invited to speak about her participation in this project and one of the main themes in her work…”folklore“.

Enjoy the series of images in which it becomes apparent how the spirit of form and function can be translated into inspiring contemporary mixed media jewelery.

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