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Archive for September, 2009

franconian silence

Friday, September 11, 2009

Moving again

and as usual somebody elses home – not mine. Strange place again.

They will not tell me about their tales, nor teach me their songs, nor share their wishes. Keeping mum like the puppets in a museum.

It is just what I see.

Their slow thoughts gahtering together behind the fences, which seperate their belongings. There into the woods. Closed faces, stubborn and the city people are not worth it anyway. And steps you hardly hear, sound is disappaering in thick layers of fallen spruce needles. Who shot the dog, the roaming, the strange one? It starts getting cold. But one stays. One does this and this and this – but never this. This girl, on the photo – you don´t know her anyway. This is mine – this is yours. Don’t dare a step.

I ask who is closing all the window shutters a long time before dawn? Who draws the lines? Who is hiding all the storys? Who is stealing the whispers about the people who did never return? And I ask who is removing the walls of snow and who is bringing the brothers to remain violently silent while sharing their lifes? Why do they stay calm when they see what they should not?

I ask questions, but the answers I get back, I can not be satisfied with.

Soy sacrilege

Friday, September 11, 2009

Select some real kitsch. Make it as tacky as you can. Deeply inelegant. Add some showy details. Mix it with tasteless notes, stir in cheap bits, put a pinch of mass-produced gaudiness and some fake comedy together with a touch of absurdity. Leave it to stand for a while and here we go… you may enjoy a magnificent and never-ending touristic enjoyment.

Folklore, I love you. You almost made me hate my region. Perverted rituals and misused symbols… I haven’t digested the mixture and I couldn’t think of producing a nice folklore-adapted design yet. At least not for now.

Still, I shall not pretend it is not part of my life. And part of my meals, actually! “Crêpes”, “galettes”, “far”, “kouign aman”, “palets” and other “lekker” buttery delights from Bretagne (France) are certainly what makes me enjoy folklore, after all. But then, is it really folklore or is it more a matter of tradition?
Do the ancestral recipes need to be translated* for the outsiders to actually become “official folklore”?

Anyways, as long as it does taste good, one would say… As a matter of fact, I ran out of milk the other day and thus I had to use soy milk when I made the tradional “far breton”. I was surprised to see that it didn’t taste bad at all! Sacrilege? Adaptation? Call it how you wish, but please never tell my grand-mother about it…


Friday, September 11, 2009

It is clear that the Lithuanians, the last European pagans remember their vernacular roots a little better than Western Europeans (even the in Soviet times promoted “pseudo folklore” was not able to erase Lithuanians connection with their tradition).

This video was embedded using the YouTuber plugin by Roy Tanck. Adobe Flash Player is required to view the video.

As one of the most important components of folklore in Lithuania is music I found that the contemporary electronical music scene has a relation with the old folklore songs. A number of musicians experiment sounds of folklore music in their electronic tunes with the nostalgia for our utopian pagan past. Therefore a genre of folklore music- ‘freakfolk’ appeared. The best example is Alina Orlova the so called ‘freakfolk’ performer,who grew up in the eastern Lithuania where life of people there is not touched with technology so much, where people still have stronger impact of folklore left. As a result of this a lot of music festivals are surrounded by certain rituals. A spiritual atmosphere is uphold in which people try not to forget the continuity of the spoken heritage and try to relate or combine their modern lives with the old tradition.

My grandparents ate rotten fish every Sunday

Friday, September 11, 2009

I think about a lot of things, but one of the things I mainly think about is food.
I am one of those who loves to travel and explore new places. When I am traveling in another country I hunger to try some bizarre dish. I have come across crazy foods such as: frog, crocodile, different kinds of candied insects amongst other things. But the strangest and smelliest food I have ever eaten is probably a dish from my  home country! I am talking about the Swedish Surströmming.

Originally it comes from the north part of Sweden but is sold throughout
the country. The translation of Surströmming is Sour herring. The special thing with this fish is that it is fermented in a can for at least 9-12 months before you eat it. It takes a little courage for some people to eat and not everyone likes it. Other people love it, my grandparents ate it frequently as a Sunday dish.

So you are wondering how do you eat it? Traditionally it is eaten in the autumn time together with friends and family with tunnbröd a (flat bred ), sliced union and potatoes, most people drink aquavit and beer as accompaniments but some people have it with milk!

If you are interested in trying there are some receipt on the website: and you can also find it in some special food shops. (But be careful when you open the cans it is very important to put them under water otherwise the sour fish can explode.)

“Blue” is the new black

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If there is one of the things I like in the country where I came from is the contrast between the white and the deep blue from the houses. It was in an instant that i made that connection to the well known Delft blue.

In the XV century the paintings in ceramics was brought to both, Portugal and Netherlands, by the Italians. From Islamic and Chinese origins, this ceramic technic started to be developed as a cultural tradition. Following different ways in that production, Portugal developed the technic of the big blue tile panel paintings with representations of historical and religious moments. Netherlands, in a slightly different way, got worldly famous with the Delft blue landscapes paintings in pottery such as plates and the well known tulip jars.

In Portugal, more then just folklore, this tile panel paintings are now revived in interior decoration from new modern buildings. Also used as an inspiration for fashion clothing and accessories, it pierced right through centuries from the old to the new age.

Come back when you grow up!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

packing guide

Israel is only 60 years old, so it’s hard to define what exactly Israeli folklore is. One thing is certain – if you’re an Israeli between the ages of 18 to 25 you must own at least one big trekking backpack. On high-school graduation, on the 18th birthday or on any other event that happens to take place around that time of your life, the most important gift you will receive is the big backpack for the following years. First, the military service years, in which the backpack is almost a status symbol among the guys, after that maybe a year in a kibbutz, and then the big trip to finalize these last few years. In the end, the backpack is covered in patches, sketches, notes and symbols it had accumulated over these years and becomes a sort of journal. I think it symbolizes an experience that everyone has to go through and which is a big part of growing up in Israel.

Devine Jewelery

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zuiderzeewerken I, Halssieraad Spakenburg 2009 (zilver) / Willemijn de Greef :courtesy Marzee

At the exhibition “Gone With the Wind” I saw a series of oversized necklaces made by Willemijn De Greef. The size of these necklaces made it seem like they were made for gods and I had the association of the gods in the Norse mythology. In this mythology jewelry play an important role. For example the goddess Freja owns a necklace called Brisingamen.

As a child I was very fascinated by the tales of the Norse mythology. The stories were told to me in school and it was interesting to know that the people who lived their life’s by the rules of this religion had walked the same grounds as me.

I think it’s interesting to think of the mystical beauty jewelry represents in such an old mythology. It puts the concept of jewelry in an interesting perspective, that the fascination of it is so old, and it becomes very clear that the value of jewelry is definitely not only material

Scary Kids

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When I saw the work of Caroline Fuchs, Appeltjes van Oranje, the mannequin children playing in outrageous bizarre clothes, I connected the piece to the changelings in the old folk tales of my country Iceland, called “þjóðsögur”, because I thought they looked so creepy! For a very long time these “þjóðsögur” only existed orally, they were passed down from generation to generation. In the stories about the changelings, elves would steal an infant and replace it usually with an old elf who would take on the image of the infant. This changeling would cry relentlessly, be greedy and behave mischievously. The parents did not know what hit them! In the tales when the mother realizes that she is actually taking care of a changeling she often tries to harm it, she beats and kicks it. Cue a strange old elf-lady to enter bearing the true child in her arms and she usually says something like: “I cherish and love your son but you abuse my husband!” Then she leaves the child with her mother and leads her husband away. The “þjóðsögur” are still told today and read and enjoyed. They are one of the most important parts of our cultural heritage. People also make references to them in everyday life, for example when a child is behaving badly people will call it a changeling.

The Farmer Festival from a little girl’s point of view

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Growing up with two different cultures, Switzerland and Italy, I associate a lot of feelings with Folklore.
In the exhibition Gone with the wind I felt a special connection to the 7 contemporary design interpretation of the net menders. Across the room you just saw black-white dresses that looked similar. Amidst the net-landscape I caught the details. It reminded me of the feeling I had in my childhood when we went to a farmer festival of my Swiss-grandfather. I wore my traditional costume and was amazed by all the others. They looked all so perfect in it and every costume was different when I looked closer. One had more stitches or more golden knobs. They came from different cities. Every canton has their own traditional costume and also inside of the canton there are differences between the regions or daytimes. The “Kantönligeist”, as we say in Switzerland, is omnipresent.

Present, Past, Future: Tree Thieves & Pagan Customs

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It was in the middle of the ‘Walpurgisnacht’ (the night from April 30 to May1) when a small group of German teenagers sneaked to the marketplace of a neighbouring village in Oberfranken to steal the ‘Maibaum’ which was supposed to be erected there during the festive gathering the following morning. If they succeeded the villagers would have to pay, according to this Bavarian custom, a tribute of beer and food in order to retrieve it.

It is believed that every ‘Maibaum’ has a blessing effect on its town. It is a symbol of fertility and prosperity. Although its contemporary form dates back to the 16th century its real origin is far older: Germanic tribes already worshipped holy trees long before they were christianized. Presumably these cults have their seeds in ‘Yggdrasil’, the mythologic Norse ‘World Tree’.

The Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen / Holland exhibits a modern chintz which also shows a ‘Tree of Life’. To some extend it might have the same mythologic background as the German ‘Maibaum’.

Generally the ‘Tree of Life’ is an archetype which is deeply rooted in the psyche of almost every culture. But what does it really mean to us today in our high-speed society in a more or less globalised world? And will it still have a meaning in the future?


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The noise from the boots that hit the cold wet floor, yelling men shouting and cursing, fork lift trucks and pallets that hit the floor with a loud bang. And the ice-cold air from the freezers. This all together make you realize your in the fishing harbors of IJmuiden. Typical for this environment.

From their sixteenth age the lads in IJmuiden are ready to work in these harbors or as fishermen on sea. They get the full gear. A blue overall, yellow boots, yellow gloves, a tattoo of an anchor, ship or mermaid. And of course the golden earrings.

Atelier Ted Noten made a collection of earrings called “New identifications”. My personal connection with that work is simple. In the city IJmuiden where I was born all the men wear these earrings. These 18kt earrings will cover the costs for the funeral when fishermen die in a storm out in the open sea.

Ted Noten his series have new images/symbols from the 21st century as Ipod’s, windmills, skateboards and so on.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burning paper money (also called Hell bank note or joss paper) to worship deities, honor ancestors or rest ghosts in peace is one of the most common rituals being practiced in Taiwan. The ritual is related to the belief that after the paper money is burned, it travels to the other worlds where deities, ancestors or ghosts reside.

There are different sorts of paper money, each varying from another in terms of size, pattern and purpose; however, in general it can still be divided roughly into two categories: gold and silver, which indicates the color of the square-shaped foil attached to the center of each paper money. The gold foil represents the higher rank of the deities while the silver one is therefore only used for ancestors or ghosts.

As a child, I had always been fascinated by the act of burning paper money because it somehow added more fun and interesting factors into the whole religious ceremony and summed up the whole ritual as a climax in the end.

*inspired by: Borststuk Souvenir, 2008, Robert Smit


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zeeuws-Vlaanderen seems to me an independent country, located between The Netherlands and Belgium. The fortified city Hulst, surrounded by star shaped ramparts, her mill, castle and basilica represents real folklore to me. The city attracts Belgium tourists, who consider it as a Dutch city, and the Dutch tourists, who consider it as a Flemish area.
The folkloric tales about the sly fox Reynaert, who even managed to deceive the king of the animal kingdom, king Noble, are still alive. The still vividly living fable functions as decoration of traditional café’s where the same family issues are being discussed for ages.
It seems as if the idealistic way of remembering cannot escape the area through the water of the North sea and the Westerschelde, surrounding the land. This water touching land doesn’t have public transport such as trains (it only has busses which makes rounds a few times a day). Maybe this is one of the reasons why I found it to be a forgotten piece of the Netherlands. Such a isolated piece of land with hidden treasures.
Because who of those raised in the big city, have ever visited Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, whom of them have ever taken part on mussel festivals. Where breaths the Zeeuwse shore (shore of Zeeland) so that you will always cycle with the wind in your face.

Bride of God

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This picture was taken at my First Holy Communion in the Roman Catholic south of the Netherlands, where Catholicism has become more like tradition than religion (although one can ask whether religion is not always more like tradition than anything else).

The style of dress in this picture is quite representational of what I remember most about this ritual. Girls got dressed up in the most outrageous princess-like dresses and boys looked like forgotten side-kicks in their little monkey suits. Only later did I see that the girls were really dressed up as brides of God, and the boys, I don’t know what to make of. This cultus of female dress, as is also visible in the historic Dutch attire that is now on view at the Zuiderzee Museum exhibition “Gone with the Wind”, is a jumble of mixed messages of virginity and seductiveness, sobriety and decoration, even in children’s holy rituals.

“A soft beat from the sky”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The exhibition to the Zuiderzee-museum itself was preceded by a moment in which I really felt connected to my country, the Netherlands. Descending from the train, the wind and sky managed to awaken conflicting feelings regarding the Dutch folklore. A typical Dutch sky colored in dark purple gray pink, white beige and all colors in between carrying raindrops building up in the belly of the sky. Waiting to burst over the open waters of the Ijsselmeer. The smell of wooden boats and the whistling of the wind through the energetic sails with stature and strength. By pushing my sunglasses higher up and closer to the eyes, the lines separating the sky from sea became clearer. Pushed by the wind and the rain, the rhythm of the roofs covered with red tiles led to the smell of the Hema “rookworst” warming my mind. Seeing the beauty with a soberness and acceptance of circumstances, surviving in tougher times characterizes the Dutch people and at the same time bonds me to them. Looking at the way they deal for example with the weather by inventing an umbrella suitable for tougher times, I think it symbolizes the Dutch people. keyword: storm umbrella

Saci-Perere in the Low Lands

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Last week, while visiting the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen, I was sent back to my childhood years through the works of artist Caroline Fuchs (NL 1964), who amongst 54 other artists, designers and photographers were asked to create works for the exhibition “Gejaagd door de Wind” which theme was “Folklore”

Fuchs created a room full of infant dummies wearing their folkloric Queen’s day customs. When entering the room, a Brazilian folkloric character, the Saci-Perere, jumped into my mind. Not that the dummies were black or one legged, neither did they smoke pipes or wore red hats and shorts, but the somewhat magical atmosphere in the room created by the unusual styling, use of vivid colors and choice of rather scary dummies just sent me to a different time and place.

The Saci-Perere is, without doubt, the most famous character in Brazilian folklore. Apparently he chooses to live  close to farms and will not cause major harm, but there is no little harm that he won’t do. He will hide children’s toys, set farm animals loose, tease dogs, and curse chicken eggs preventing them from hatching. In the kitchen, the Saci would spill  salt, sour the milk, burn the bean stew, and drop flies into the soup.  In short, anything that goes wrong — in the house, or outside it — may be confidently blamed on the Saci.

Besides disappearing or becoming invisible (often with only his red cap and the red glow of his pipe still showing), the Saci can transform himself into a Matitaperê or Matita Pereira, an elusive bird whose melancholic song seems to come from nowhere. One can escape a pursuing Saci by crossing a water stream: the Saci will not dare to cross, for then he will lose all his powers. Another way is to drop ropes full of knots; the Saci will then be compelled to stop and undo the knots. One can also try to appease him by leaving behind some cachaca, or some tobacco for his pipe

Designblog: Entering the 3rd Season

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome again to Designblog.

We hope you have enjoyed all our contributions and project of the last season published by the students, professors and guests of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Foundation Year’s Design Program.

As an education project Designblog is constantly publishing new content and reinventing it’s format. Not satisfied with the option of being a publishing platform only, we do investigate all posibilities to become an engine aswell. We hope you enjoy the experiment.

Designblog is also a platform to show some of the dynamics going on in the Foundation Year’s Design Program and the many faces it can make….like:


DESIGN OF SPACES/architectonical design by Carla Boomkens

A project in which the making of spaces and their expressive means are investigated.   Both real size- and scale models of spaces are ventured in this short-term research-laboratory on visual, functional and communicative qualities, according to a well specified theme.

Ranging from a tent-cabin to the built environment of a city, the very function of the constructed space offers the specific features to it, and thus the means for visual expression: defining the way a space can be specificly experienced.   By analyzing the function unforeseen connections are to be revealed, which broaden the effective visual spelling and open doors to subtle and precise visual communication.

Examples of existing spaces and/or buildings will be extensively introduced and discussed as guidelines: the knowledge and understanding of the motives of their authors challenges to reflect on the motives of one’s own expression – it both intensifies and relativates.   The visual research is valued as the most important contribution to the workshop, the results are considered as a consequence, not as a singular aim.   About technique for building: through the making of the (scale)models the fundamental principles of construction will evidence themselves – and will be coached when the work calls for it.

text by Carla Boomkens /images & models by the students

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