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A Spectacular Manifesto

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The ultimate goal of all art is the spectacle! The ancient drama was once the main purpose of the visual arts, and it was institutionalized as an indispensable part of life. Today, it exists in complacent isolation, from which it can only be salvaged by the purposeful and cooperative endeavors of all artists. Architects, painters and sculptors, designers, writers and potters must learn a new way of seeing and understanding the composite character of the theater, both as a totality and in terms of its parts. Their work will then re-imbue itself with the spirit of the spectacle, which it lost being caged in a white cube.

The art schools of old were incapable of producing this unity—and how could they, for art may not be taught. They must return to the performative, to the spectacle, the theater. They must get back up on the stage. This world of mere conceptual products must at long last become a world of performers. When a young person who senses within them-self a love for creative endeavor begins their career, the context of the theater will give them unrestrained freedom to achieve excellence in their practice of art, as well on stage as behind the scenes.

Architects, sculptors, painters, photographers, weavers and dressmakers—we all must return to the collective spectacle! For there is no such thing as “art by profession”. There is no essential difference between an artist and an actor. The artist is an exalted performer. Merciful heaven, in rare moments of illumination beyond man’s will, may allow art to blossom from the work of his hand, but the foundations of proficiency are indispensable to every artist. This is the original source of creative design.
So let us therefore create a new ensemble of actors, free of the divisive class pretensions that endeavored to raise a prideful barrier between actors and artists! Let us strive for, conceive and create the new theater of the future that will unite every discipline, architecture and sculpture and painting, video and glassblowing and jewellery which will one day rise heavenwards from the million hands of artists as a clear symbol of a new spectacle to come.

If you know your Bauhaus well, you may recognize this text as it is a rewritten version of the Bauhaus Manifesto. When Walter Gropius wrote the original manifesto back in April 1919 he wanted to unify ”architects, painters and sculptors” by going back to the crafts and combine it with fine arts. When I’m rewriting it now, to the month exactly 100 years later, I’m also aiming to unify not only architects, painters and sculptors, but all artistic disciplines, through a revival of, and return to, the performative arts within the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

We are always told to get out of our comfort zone, to aim for the impossible, the fantastic, to let us be carried away and explore our dreams. Where else better to do all that than in the context of the theater? It has room for, and it needs, everybody’s interests and practices! Apart from performers it needs just as many writers, sculptors, painters, musicians, designers, costume makers – you name it. Furthermore, there is nothing you can’t do on stage; if you want to fly, then you fly! This limitless space of imagination and exploration is something that should be available and encouraged for everyone, performer or not. With calling it ”theater” rather than ”performative arts” we can also emphasize on this collaboration and intertwining of knowledge and different practices which is absolutely essential.

”But you can already do this, you can do (almost) all you want at the academy!” some might say, and while that sure is true, the space and importance given to performative arts in this school is very limited compared to it’s precursor. Yes, there is a small group of teachers and students engaged with it within the academy (basically restricted to the Fine arts and VAV departments), and yes there used to be a theater department back in the days. But why isn’t it a natural part of the education for all of us, and not only for students in a certain department?

Reading Human – space – machine: stage experiments at the Bauhaus by Torsten Blume and Christian Hiller (Spector, Leipzig, 2014) it becomes clear that movement classes of different sorts were an important part of the Bauhaus’ Vorlehre – the equivalent of the Rietveld’s Basisjaar. During Johannes Itten’s years the focus was a “therapeutically motivated balance of body and soul” while later on, under Lászlo Moholy-Nagy’s and Josef Albers’ board, the physical exercise became more “businesslike and functional”. No matter the purpose, in both of the above mentioned cases the physical movement of the body was natural elements of the teaching that we are now missing but that could easily be brought back to life in the form of performative arts.

I say:

Let’s have theater class once a week in Basic Year!

Let’s build a proper stage with opportunities to experiment with light, sound, scenography and spatial design!

Let’s all and everyone, from our different practices and fields of interests, unite and collaborate in this machinery that is the Theater!

In the spirit of Oskar Schlemmer, I wish for us a rich and alive theater as the most central and unifying element of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

Let’s make a spectacle!

Who is behind it /!?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

[audio:|titles=”We want to thank all our friends” by Session Victim]

Tessa used to be a regular guest at the well known Studio 80 on Amsterdam’s Rembrandtplein. She would come here to dance, celebrate and have a good time on the weekends. Eventually becoming a part of the Studio 80 family. Knowing Tessa, it doesn’t seem very surprising, that the management has asked and offered her a place as the door host, as I have gotten to know her as a very friendly and warm personality.

She is obviously fascinated and driven by the music, the vibe and the immense sense of freedom, which a club can provide. Letting a feeling of time escape and falling full body into music and dance.

She became a very familiar face over the years working her way up into the management, knowing almost everybody who came to visit the “Studio” regularly. However Tessa has a huge thing for hats, head pieces and the occasional costume. She would change outfits and if you only met her a couple of times like I did, you might not recognize her.

Studio 80 sadly shut it’s doors at the end of January 2016, however they did so with one hell of a goodbye. I have rarely heard such good music, in such exciting ways and locations.

With this assignment coming up and all of this fresh on my mind, it seemed like the perfect idea to do a head piece on the young, hat fascinated lady, who made this great club what it was. However there is one more factor, that we figured out a little later; She was the first “Amsterdammer” I have talked to, when driving from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam with my dear friend Martin, to hear some real music. It was her time of working as the door host.

In Studio 80 there was always a sense of moving. Wether this was a graphic design, a light installation or just playing records while sitting on the couch for a big audience at the goodbye event. The Studio 80 people would come up with the craziest concepts and all the guest would support this „hype“ without question.

Tessa obviously played a very social role in the club and as all of us know, it’s not easy getting along with everybody. Although I felt that she would be perfectly up to the challenge, I wanted to give her the ability to change her appearance quickly, but also to disappear when she feels the need to.


I recently got in touch with the idea of doing a projection and then mapping it onto a three dimensional object. For me it was something I always wanted to try and dig myself into, because I was absolutely curious what the outcome would be.  This way I had the ability to change or to create scenarios for a lot of different situations. Which I felt could come in handy on an entire evening of meeting people and disco.

Deciding to move forward in this direction I felt it was time to talk to Tessa about my wish to do this project on, to ask her questions and to get a better feel of what makes and drives her. My main question was where Tessa draws the line between her very social & fun job and her own personal private live. She made it very clear to me, that this line exists  boldly and that social media such as facebook benefits her with her work. Happy to hear that!

The goal for the next step was now to create a wide variety of content. For me this should include character change, light, darkness, motion but also graphic design. Of course the projection content should focus on the ability of disappearing as well as blending in and supporting a greatly motivated Amsterdam when it comes to music.

However first I had to figure out the technology. I found a basic projection mapping software named „Madmapper“ early during the project. After doing research on the software I understood, that the content would now have to be created using animation and cutting programs (like aftereffects and premiere pro). It would then be imported into the projection software and masked to the face it was later projected on.


Starting of with pens and paper I started experimenting what could be possible and although I was trying to come up with possible content, I was amazed how these lines, shapes and colors could change a face just like that.


After transforming a lot of these ideas into animation something was still missing. I felt, that something being human imagery. It did not yet make sense (almost alienating) to project something on a human face, not including any visual aspects of it. Filming the portrait of several people, I excluded some of their eyes, mouths, faces, to underline a certain feeling with an interesting visual response.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-05-24 um 16.16.56

the green line is the mask for mapping it onto a real face

The last big challenge in this project was now, to tie together the pieces without telling a story. All the projection content is intended from me to leave the narrative to your imagination. This was especially hard, because a translation of one animation into the other felt storytelling to me in most cases.

I believe, that this projection could be something nice for Tessa to „wear/carry“. It does not only (as initially intended) give her the ability to hide and disappear, but also to show her mood or a need, and to enjoy herself.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

text by Celina Yavelow


Guilty_Screen Shot

She changes this thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and she changes this other thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and then she tells all this the way it happens to some others and they think it is funny, but the other hears it and does not think it is funny, but can’t change it back.

The Other, by Lydia Davis


Loaded Language


The fact that language can change a state being is pretty much wow to me. Say the word and there’s a chance something will change: your insides start hurting (“Cunt”), you’re suddenly single again (“I’m breaking up with you”), or forced into a guilty state (“You’re under arrest”). The load in this kind of language is taken literally here, considering the body not only as the agent for speech, but also as physically subject to the force and effect of loaded language — realizing you can actually do things with words, and realizing also, that its authority can be both threatening and empowering.

Complex_Screen Shot

This thesis is titled Where did you hide the gun? because it’s a famous example of a question deliberately loaded by its formulation. It does not ask if there is a gun, but ensues there is, and where did you hide it? According to the question you’re already guilty of the shot — regardless (“POW POW!”). I’ve connected this mechanism to a term in language philosophy and theater studies called performative speech utterance, which is quite a tough shoe to chew, so my theoretical framing is constantly interrupted by metaphoric associations and a fictional narrative, offering a melodramatic illustration of the concepts employed.

And_Screen Shot

Meanwhile, I became completely hooked to the thought that language can be so directive, that we are so easily affected, seduced or tricked by it. I continued my research in a sound piece called Hi, Mary, which was set out to be a subjective audio tour of a small part of the GRA graduation show of 2015, but was mostly exploring this reflex in our body to surrender to a voice and its language. Listen to it here!
Sound file: Hi-Mary

[audio:|titles=perfect fifth]

650-Celina_Yavelow_LS_05_low_res audiotour at Rietveld graduation show


the thesis
The subject –loaded language– is in itself interesting. But what makes the thesis original and engaging is the way in which she approaches the subject - a mix of various types of material (film, language philosophy, literature, current events, memories) and registers (short story, academic prose, interview, collaged/found text), all capably, impressively intertwined. Yavelow presents the reader with both basic and not-so-basic linguistic concepts, each of which she proceeds to explore through various perspectives.
The writing process is thus integral to the subject matter. The bluntness of certain images (for example guns) and juxtapositions (for example romance with guilt) is largely offset by the assured writing style. A range of literary devices are used to good effect: repetition, sentence fragments, double meanings, omission of conjunctions. An enjoyable, kaleidoscopic read.
[text by Louis Luthï]

Screen shot 2016-05-15 at 3.23.50 PM download this thesis by Celina Yavelow


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