Skip to Content Skip to Search Go to Top Navigation Go to Side Menu

"letters" Tag

Not A Complete Story…..

Monday, April 9, 2012

At the Fashion&FOAM exhibition in the Vijzelstraat, the work of Emmeline de Mooij was a real eye catcher. Not because of its colors, not because of its size, not because of its position, but because it was ‘different’. In an exhibition on fashion design, she chose not to show clothing or fashion photography, but to present a canvas with a picture of a jumping naked woman and collected sand, called ‘Gravity and Domestic Dust’. A very (strange?) personal approach to what fashion design is? How does she describe herself, and what –as an ex-Rietveld student- is her connection to the Rietveld after 10 years of graduation? As a reaction on her visual work, I chose a personal formal approach by sending her a letter full of loose questions, written on pictures of the Rietveld building and on photographs of her own work. What I got back was not a complete story, not a letter either, but a bunch of answers giving a slight insight in the relation between this versatile artist and ‘our’ Rietveld.

How do you describe what you do?
Emmeline de Mooij (born in Delft, The Netherlands, 1978) investigates in her installations, photo’s and performances, the human being looking for something to hold on, confronted with the sight of a dizzying big universe. Comfort and a therapeutic effect is often found in surrounding oneself with as much objects as possible.
In her work she creates artifacts and remnants of fictional societies and scenes from apocalyptic scenario’s, removing the contradictions between the everyday and the improbable. Materials such as clothing, utensils, plastic, clay and Styrofoam, she molds together into images referring to science-fiction, archeological finds and pseudo-scientific theories.
The complex, with objects surrounded modern life and the nostalgic desire for simplicity, she captures in an ironic way. Where concepts of freedom and panic are inextricably linked to each other.

You+Rietveld: Happy marriage?
Yeah, quite a happy marriage! Although I wouldn’t describe the Rietveld at that time as a top level institute. I thrived well in the general focus at the Rietveld at giving the students a lot of freedom and responsibility, but I also think that there were a lot of not really good teachers. Teaching on a bad level, not up to date with developments within the international art world, or just not dedicated enough (absent all the time, sick, burn-out etc). I had the feeling some of those teachers where teaching there since ages, having this contract, so they were save for the next 10 years, they were friendly to the director and that seemed enough to keep their job.

In what way did you(r work) change during your Rietveld studies?
I guess, due to the fact the Rietveld being quite an international community, the same counts for Amsterdam where I moved to for my studies, my horizon was broadened. And I felt I could finally fully express myself, surrounded by like minded people, quite different from the provincial town I grew up.

What is your relationship to other (ex-)Rietveld students?
I have some friends that went to the Rietveld as well, maybe 30% of my friends? But I’m not one of those that keep hanging out with only Rietveld people, there’s quite a big community in Amsterdam that is like that.

Does it matter that they are from the Rietveld as well?
See answer above.

Do you think that someone can say that your work is “typically Rietveld -based”?
To be honest, I hope not. I hope my work is not too strongly part of just one particular tradition.
Although sometimes I have the feeling, especially compared to artists with a background in American art education, people who studied at the Rietveld have quite an elaborate/intuitive way of working, which feels to me more natural. So I wouldn’t mind if people would connect me to the Rietveld in that sense.
I can’t ignore though that my work can be typical Dutch sometimes.
Especially in photography I think there is a certain approach that a lot of Dutch artists unites, “improvised” looking still lives for example, or snap shot like photo’s with strong flash light, the use of humor in the work. And many times I think Dutch art isn’t very political, again especially compared to artists with a background in American art education (for me this is a strong reference just because I recently lived/studied in the States for 1,5 years), artists here are not extremely engaged or making political statements.

Why did you go to NYC after your studies?
Because I got offered a scholarship for the Photo Global Residency Program

When did you start making these (canvas)works? Do you consider them as fashion design?
I started making them in New York in 2010. I wouldn’t consider them as fashion design.

Do you manage to draw the school-floorplan by memory?

What did you learn most in school?
Working from my intuition.

Did the school change in your eyes?
Don’t know.

Would you change something?
If there are still these teachers that aren’t dedicated and not good at teaching, I would throw them out and really try to upscale the general level. There are enough great artists and theorists living in or close to Amsterdam who could teach at the Rietveld.

Did you ever think about quitting the Rietveld?

When where you there for the last time?
I think 2008, for the graduation show.

Do you feel linked to the school today?
Not so much, although coincidentally two weeks ago or so I ended up at a lecture from the Italian thinker Bifo and I heard he was going to speak at the Rietveld Studium Generale the next day. So I checked the Rietveld website and some lectures looked interesting, but I had to finish some works for a show so I couldn’t go. But maybe definitely next time.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

inspired by 'words about words...' from s. themerson's semantic poetry


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Monday, March 14, 2011


Thursday, March 10, 2011


Monday, March 7, 2011


Monday, March 7, 2011


Monday, March 7, 2011


Monday, March 7, 2011


Sunday, March 6, 2011


Saturday, March 5, 2011

New eyes

Friday, March 4, 2011

Looking back in time, trying to remember how I’ve learned to write and read, no memories appears. At least no memories that create a clear image of the learning process.

In elementary school we learned the letters. We learned how they look like, how they sound, how to write them and connect them into words. This process took quite long time I think and it’s difficult to be described in retrospect. In these classes, we all had to study on writing the same letters, but we all created different handwriting. Some could do it beautifully, some ugly to unreadable. How a handwriting can be unreadable?

Now, reading a ‘small’ book from a ‘big’ man – Gerrit Noordzij, helps me to realize why and how I can do this today. A book written even before I was born answers the question as simple as ‘the space’ and with writing especially the ‘white space’.

In our current time we see hundreds of images every day. Some we remember for a reason, some we forget immediately. How does our human brain read those images? What helps it in this process?

The “boom” of a new ways to process images started in the second half of the 19th century, when people started creating more spaces for museums and galleries. Later on with the use of architectural deconstructions, making them fairly big and “clean”, with the only purpose to contain some of those special images for us.

The use of space is very common in modern art. In some cases we actually perceive the space as a piece of the art. For example, if a work of art is placed in surrounding A, which is empty, it will be processed in your mind differently than in surrounding B, which is full with other objects.

In modern art we refer to surrounding A as the ‘White cube’, with its square or oblong shape, white walls and a light usually coming from the ceiling. A book from Brian O’Doherty (Inside the white cube – 1976), in which he confronted the modernist obsession with the white cube arguing that every object became almost sacred inside it, making the reading of art problematic.

As surrounding B was more standard in the few centuries before that. Then the exhibition space was the salon, a dark space so filled with works that it was difficult to see the beautiful, detailed paintings.

surrounding A

surrounding B

The importance of space can be found in different forms. Also in writing it plays a crucial roll in getting the message across, in other words: reading. In his book ‘ The stroke of the pen’ Gerrit Noordzij emphasise how the space in and around letters can make or brake the word and therefore the text.This space has to be put in rhythm. He writes: “The rhythmic connection of the white shapes in the word is the condition of the rhythm of the black shapes and vice versa.”

So this rhythm can be seen only in combination of letters. If a letter and subsequently a word doesn’t have its own space in and around it, then the white cube that belongs to the letter is impaired. As a result the word becomes just like an image hanging in saloon from 18 century.

Trying to understand this theory is like learning to read and write all over again. That opens a new perception on all written letters and words, how are they made and how they come across. Always look around and you’ll might see things in a new way…


Friday, March 4, 2011


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Log in