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"mask" Tag


Her Previous Incarnation


Sunday, April 17, 2016
 

"Don't ask from where I have come, 
My home is far, far away. 
Why do you wander so far? Wander so far?"
- "Olive Tree" by Sanmao 

Sanmao to me was an incurable romantic, a lonely dreamer and a gifted drifter who had spent most of her life travelling and writing. The stories and the journals she wrote beautifully reflected the unforgettable journeys she undertook, the incredible places and people she had seen. Sanmao studied philosophy in Taiwan and continued her education later on in Spain and Germany. After her study and the tragical loss of her fiancé, Sanmao returned to Spain and there she made up her mind to follow the sunset of Sahara . Her life as a drifter and a writer then began.

 

sanmao in sahara

 

I’ve always been very much moved and inspired by the stories of her life journey, as her writings didn’t only describe the wonderful experiences of her trips but also illustrated the difficult realities she had to deal with. (Here is one of her stories – “The Mute Slave” collected in the book “The Stories of Sahara”.)  Because of her kindness and courage, she was able to prepare herself to face all the challenges and risks of her adventure. To me Sanmao’s writings mean much more than a travelogue, significantly they stand for her values of life. Therefore, I decided to take Sanmao as the person/source of my inspiration for this “Identity” design project.

As I was quite familiar with her books, in her writings what interested me the most was her fascination with her previous incarnation. In the book “Wan Shui Qian Shan Zou Bian”, she wrote that she had always believed she was an Ecuadorian Indian girl in her last life. When she traveled to one remote village hidden in the Andes, she felt immensely connected to the highland, as if she had come back to the homeland of her previous life.  As she wrote, in her last life she was a Cañari (“an indigenous ethnic group traditionally inhabiting the territory of the modern provinces of Azuay and Cañar in Ecuador”) girl named Hawa. The name Hawa in their language means heart. She was a pharmacist’s granddaughter who lived her entire life happily and peacefully in the village of the silver lake (also known as the lake of heart) till her death.

 

 wan shui qian shan zou bian

“Wan Shui Qian Shan Zou Bian” in Chinese

 

As her imaginary previous life fascinated me so much, I decided to design the headpiece based on her last life story and research on the indigenous inhabitants of Ecuador as a starting point. It was at first difficult to figure out the ethnicity of Hawa in English and there was no Chinese information regarding the ethnic group she belonged to. However, after several rounds of research on the history of the indigenous people of Ecuador, I was able to confirm that Hawa’s ethnicity was Cañari. Research on history, culture  and custom of the Cañari was then further conducted.
Interestingly, I found the Cañari indians loved wearing hats. “Those of you who have been following our South American journey know how important, and ubiquitous, hats are to the people of the Andes. Fedoras are to be found everywhere, stovepipes are not uncommon, and the Cholas of Bolivia have turned blower hats into a jaunty fashion statement of national pride. Many wear straw hats, and in Ecuador at least, have them refurbished by painting them to make them last longer. I must also mention Panama hats, which are not from Panama at all, but are exclusively an Ecuadorian creation”, Alison and Don wrote in their post The Cañari of Ecuador, a ‘palace’ and a pig”. 

 

p1450898 copy 500 canaris loving wearing hats2

Nevertheless, among the different types of hats they wear, I found one kind that was particularly special. The hat is made with a wide brim and many strands of colourful yarns falling from the edge. The Cañaris usually wear it for festivals and celebrations.

 

canaris celebration

On the other side of my research, I discovered the Cañaris created a very unique moon worshipping system using large rocks. “The Incas worshipped the sun, but the Cañaris worshipped the moon. There are 28 holes on the larger rock, one for each day in a lunar month.  Each hole is drilled at a different angle and when water is added, the Cañaris would look at the reflection of the moon in the small pools. This was their way of receiving messages from their god.  The other “holey rocks” were most likely used to hold paint (for painting faces, textiles, etc), “ Mellisajane14 wrote in her blog “Ingaprica: Incas in Ecuador”.

 

ingapirca_calender_rock_small.1 copy

 

After a few rounds of research, I began to develop ideas for the design of the headpiece for Hawa. In the end I decided to make masks for her to wear, as I believed Hawa – the preexistence of San Mao should be a vague figure without revealing a clear face.

 

DSCF5521 small 515w

Meanwhile, inspired by those bright, colourful yarns and holy rocks, I planned to seek and experiment with similar and relevant materials so as to resemble the Cañari elements. Wood and bamboo were selected due to their primitiveness associated with the Cañari indians. Clay and small rocks were also applied, echoing those incredible rocks.

 

DSCF5505 small 950h DSCF5508 small 950h DSCF5539 small 950h

 

After the experimental trials with materials, a clearer image of the mask that I wanted to make gradually emerged. The try-outs with the clay mask as well as the small rocks didn’t turn out strong enough to mirror the Cañari moon worshipping system. However, the results of colourful yarns in combination with wood and bamboo were quite intriguing. Hence, I decided to further continue the mask concept mainly using yarn, bamboo and wood. As the techniques of applying yarns I developed during the experiments were different, I was suggested to make two masks using both techniques (yarn with wood and yarn with bamboo). In the first technique, long strands of yarn in selected colours were made and locked to an organic-shaped wooden stick that was found in the street, creating the idea of a mask that could cover most of the body. While in the other one, yarns were applied as components to bind the bamboo sticks.

 

small DSCF5163 small  

As I discovered that yarn strands in volume and layers would turn out more visually powerful in the form of masks, and bamboo sticks bound with brightly coloured yarns placing vertically would create a refreshing effect. Therefore, I decided to continue working on the mask of yarn strands by creating more volume in layers. On the other hand, I tried to come up with a few scale models to explore the overall shape of the bamboo mask. I found that a mask of bamboo sticks in different lengths and a more or less geometric shape could be primitive and fit well in the Cañari vibe. I eventually chose one shape that I thought would connect to the story the best and made a paper mock-up of it.

 

DSCF5511 small 950h DSCF5513 small 950h DSCF5514 small 950h

DSCF5532 small 950h

Simultaneously, I kept working on the mask with layers of the yarn strands. In the initial plan, hemp rope was used to coin around both the ends of the wooden stick, building a vast contrast between the fineness of the yarn and roughness of the rope, while small gaps were left between the yarn and the rope for hair fixation, creating a way for Sanmao/Hawa to put the mask on. However, I discovered it would be even stronger to leave out the hemp rope and cover the rest of the wooden stick using only hair.

 

DSCF5217 small 950h hemp rope ard the stick

 

As for the bamboo mask, I continued building and finishing it according to the mock-up and came up with another means of fixation by attaching a few strands of straw rope to tie around Sanmao/Hawa’s body. The process of building was a bit struggling due to the difficulty of binding the slightly bended bamboo sticks.

 

DSCF5178 small 950h DSCF5189 small

Nevertheless, after two months of efforts, the masks were eventually finished. Although there were struggles and doubts, I was quite happy with the process as well as the results. After finishing the works, I decided to try them on for photo documentation. As you can see, the photos were taken in different settings. Wearing the colourful headpiece with the long yarn strands, I thought that it was necessary to feel the wind and frame the yarn flying moment at my balcony. I felt spiritual and  being transformed into a shaman from an Andes tribe. It was incredible. When I firstly put on the bamboo mask, I felt the urge of being completely natural. I wore the bamboo mask naked and did some tribal dancing and humming in my room. I felt happy and free then. In the end, I decided to keep the pictures taken at the balcony original and fresh, while adding some effects to the photos of the bamboo mask, making it a bit strange and whimsical.

 

1 small w515 for design blog

3 small w515 for design blog 14 small w515 for design blog 11 small w515 for design blog

 

I’m certainly glad that my father introduced Sanmao’s books to me at my younger age, when talking about the relations between writing and experiences of life. Without her journeys, I believe that she couldn’t have told so many wonderful stories. And it definitely helped me to rediscover myself and to a certain extend shaped my view/values of life. To me life is a long journey after all. I  made these two masks for her/ her previous incarnation in remembrance of her free spirit. These two masks carry special meanings to me, as they were made for Sanmao – an incurable romantic, a lonely dreamer and a gifted drifter who I feel deeply in common with. 

 

Goodbye Sanmao.

 

 

 sanmao's photo with a white boarde w515

 

 

Enschedese School; a fire still burning


Monday, May 30, 2011

GroetenUitEnschede

'Municipal Inferno', uitgave nº 6 van De Enschedese School.

The freedom of control.

What really fascinated me about our talk with Frans Oosterhof, was his way of talking about the freedom of control. When everything is made by hand, you lose control. Every item gets unique.

I think that is the reason, when I go down in the basement at school, I feel like going to heaven. When I enter the basement, I lose all control and works from a great passion in silkscreen and letterpress. I let stuff happen.

I love the physicality and the diversity in every work. You may have one starting point, one stencil, but end up with 10 individual works.

I am a control freak but love the freedom of control.

[by Kristine Andersen]

from basics

This “primitive” design when no computers were in use took me to the beginnings of poster design that plays such a huge role in modern world .  As to understand what is happening now it is good to have a look in the past. I took myself to the very beginning of polish poster design as this country is very famous for.

I picked one of the most known poster designer Tadeusz Gronowski that reminded me of the words said by Frans Oosterhof that skills play large part of self development and can lead you to the unexpected results. It is also a way to explore new fields of creating that may affect your work later on.So, i chose him as an example to show that innovation , new skills and experimenting resulted in posters with new light and fresh background for innovative design.

“Instead of merely adapting his painterly style to the poster format, he sees in it the opportunity to create something new, indeed a new form of artistic expression. He is one of the first artists to consciously integrate the typography with the illustration and instead of choosing the obvious he offers the viewer a different look into the subject, often displaying a disposition for the light and the humorous which endeared him to the viewers.”

For more examples of early poster designs

[by Agnieszka Zimolag]

The secrets of the Basic Year

Frans Oosterhof is not only the key figure behind the Enschedese school, but also behind us: the basic year. So what are the secrets of the fist year study of Rietveld?

The year is there to tease us, to turn things upside down, so that at one point, after being troubled, we notice that actually it works, we can do it! We have confidence and means!

Also the January project is already a tradition to shake the dust of the christmas holidays back home from our shoulders. I was amazed by the stories of knocking down all the walls of the third floor and people from one class flying naked in the sealing of the school.

The groups are made with intuition, but carefully thought. First thing, to get the biggest possible mix of age, gender and nationality together. We also heard they look at our pictures, what attitude the face signals, how do the names sound together. It’s all part of the big plan!

Group-B Basic year 2010/11

How did we all get together? It is not a coincidence!

(by Katja Hannula)

Enschedese School

ft Renaldo and The Loaf

Enschedese School could be considered as a movement that’s similar to Fluxus, Dada, and the Nul-beweging, but according to Frans Oosterhof it’s not considerable as something that we should describe as a recognizable style.

According to the music that Frans Oosterhof played, and the things that he did reminded me of a band called: Renaldo and The Loaf. The band made lyrics that we could describe as: disorientating, hilarious, ungraspable, and ´it´ does not mock certain things and is also not considered as anarchistic, but maybe more nihilistic by denying that:
A. There is no style connected to them
B. Playing around creates a fundamental or essential work
C. Experimental, and considerable as avantgarde

Most strong connection to this non-movement [Enschedese School] is Fluxus:
A. It is not a movement or a style
B. Intermedia

George brecht considered it as ‘the smallest unit of a situation’ and i could also conclude that some fluxus-art-works could be overlooked as a art work [Duchamp's Fountain, Manzoni's feces etc.]

Conclusion is:

it was no movement + it did had characteristic qualities of other movements = a statement without belonging to something.

(by Petros Orfanos)

Personal Strength

On Thursday we met Frans Oosterf, a retired teacher of Rietveld Academie and a former founder of the Enschedese School. Within a couple of hours he explained to us how the movement emerged in the late 1970’s in the small town of Enschedese where some art students denied to specialize and decided to make a second foundation year to experiment more with their creative ideas using a variety of media that they chose for themselves. It wasn’t until the next year where the same people decided to move all together in a communal studio space, working in a collective way with their teachers and publishing magazines and vinyl’s of their songs and artworks. The Enschedese school lasted for several years as an independent art movement using reproducing techniques managed to send their Art by post to their subscriber within using comical elements and repetitive patterns.
Personally I admire truly their revolutionary spirit and I wish that I would one day find myself in the position of doing something similar.

(by Claire Bamplekou)

Is it possible to be ‘style less’

Frans Oosterhof said that he once promised to be and remain style less.
Don’t get me wrong I was amazed and very much inspired by this man, but still I wonder if it is possible to avoid a certain style.
I do understand that he meant that he and the other members of the Enschedese School didn’t choose one medium to reveal their thoughts, but still it made me think of how and if it is possible, to escape from any style at all. When I looked at the work of the Enschedese School I still detected a certain overall style, I do not already want to say that that’s a bad thing. If we see for example the song ‘van Agt Casanova‘ and the ‘fake stamps‘ and the strip of ‘de Doka van Hercules’ but also in the painted crockery I sense the same kind of spirit, the same kind of style. Al these works mock certain settled persons or phenomenons in society.

Actually now that I’m thinking about it more and more, I do not think that an artist should be style less at all. Of course he or she should try a lot of different media and should not be bound to certain usages. But every time an artist expresses his or her ‘obsession*’ derived from the outside world and every time it is an obsession of the same person (or group), that is creating an overall ‘style’. Besides this (visual)artists have a strong visual intuition, I don’t think we (maybe this sounds arrogant) are able to escape from that! Of course we can make it as wide as possible, but making it to wide would also implicate a kind of indifference, a complete commonplace for an artist.
What I mean by an obsession is a kind of affection or unease about something in the outside world that inspires to make a work of art. The way such an obsession comes to us, how we interpret them or express them is I think quite personal (groups only arise from sympathizers, by whom this personal process works quite a bit the same, it’s not likely that you’ll find yourself in a group with people whose thinking process you don’t understand at all.)

 

(by Liza Prins)

 

Loving it to Death

On the cover of an EP a girl stands in front of a piano. She is wearing a t-shirt with piano keys on it. Standing on the piano is a tiny piano. On the back cover there is a little biography explaining in a very joyless and matter-of-fact way that this girl likes playing piano and makes songs. There’s a certain insanity subtly presented here that’s hard to grasp and easy to miss. Even though the creations done by Frans Oosterhof and the rest of the Enschedesche School were too sharp-witted to simply call them parodies, they certainly expose the apparent clumsiness of popular media in the Netherlands of the seventies. The media and objects created by the Enschedesche School seem to, in a subdued kind of way, reflect the madness of the world that surrounded them. I believe the Enschedesche School were cynically honouring these stupid media by loving it’s form to death.Personally, the meeting with Frans Oosterhof reminded me of the joy and excitement of creating things/media/objects/situations/ART according to one’s own vision and of the significance of Doing It Yourself.

Besides “Van Agt Casanova” it is difficult to find any music by Enschedesche School’s 1000 Idioten label online. However here’s the chords of one of their releases so you can play it yourself!

[by Senne Hartland]

maybe I’m in time!

Without being pretentious, last Friday gave me the impression to understand a bit of my contemporary time. Frans Oosterhof told about his studies in art academy and his years in the Enschedese School movement in the 70s/80s’. The Gerrit Rietveld Academie follows the same way of thinking, revolutionary at the time and strongly contemporary nowadays. Frans also reorganized the Rietveld’s Basic Year, which he did several times going against the idea of taking a specific direction in a department. To hear the foundations of the Foundation was revealing and encouraging: the Enschedese School is just one of the influences that stays at the bottom of a contemporary way of teaching and learning. Frans says that in others academies “art” is not possible to explain, they teach every technique, but not how to be an artist because they don’t know what is the magic potion for that. He believes that art or not we should understand nothing around us, without right and wrong and stupid school critics, we need to surprise ourselves. We don’t need to choose a direction because we should say what we want, how we want and again swimming in millions of possibility. No prejudices about media and contents ,of course, and feel the education as moment of tryout and living together.
I felt part of something bigger, also if I’m not supposed to understand and only living making art accidentally etc… I had the real intuition to be part of a cultural machine working to produce a precise thought. I know we will write the history of today in the future, but I felt perfectly in time to perceive by intuition the reason to stay exactly where I am.


Drawing a tree, by Bruno Munari

the Third Paradise, by Michelangelo Pistoletto

[by Sara Cattin]

MAD = BAD = BETTER

Taking part of some of the treasures of the Enschedese School’s vast production; I started thinking about MAD. I always loved the magazine when I was a kid, and my parents had some really old ones at home. When I saw all the printed media and witty designs in combination with mind-bending but tempting objects, it felt like the MAD Magazine had entered another sphere and all of Harvey Kurtzman’s old drawings and perverted fantasies came to life, walking and talking just as lifelike as Oosterhof in front of me. At one point I got really attached to the little brush-bird (the one made with pencils and grey wings), and I was sure I’d seen it before as a sketch. Searching my mind and especially old MAD archives, I couldn’t find the original source I was looking for. But it was satisfying enough, because playing around with it confirmed to me that if you put your mind to it, visions/dreams/unhealthy fantasies can come true. Even if it doesn’t make any sense at all to yourself or your audience. (If you print this and wear it at school I’ll give you an ice cream.)

[by Olga Nordwall]

De kopjes van Frans Oosterhof

Frans Oosterhof heeft tijdens zijn verblijf aan de Enschedese-school een groot project gehad met al bestaand ziekenhuis kopjes. deze vijfhonderd kopjes en schotels verfde hij subtiel met kleine verf spatjes en druipers.
Wat ik kon zien bij de kopjes die hij mee had genomen, leek het vaak op de kring, die je krijgt als je koffie morst, maar dan gekleurd. Dit was zo subtiel gedaan dat de schoonmaakster van Frans een paar jaar geleden een deel van deze kopjes die hij nog bezat heeft weggegooid. de schoonmaakster dacht namelijk dat het mengbekertjes waren die niet meer schoon te krijgen waren. Zelf zag ik ook eerst niet wat er zo bijzonder was aan deze kopjes, maar juist omdat het zo subtiel gedaan is, zijn de kop en schotel het project van Frans Oosterhof dat mij het meest bij gebleven is.

[by Casper Braat]

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