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Natasja van Eijk

April 2, 2007

shoe maker

Poem for Natajsa

You pour me apple tea
that catches light, tastes of golden weather.

This day is grey and full of ideas
yet to be written,

round and smooth as a pregnant belly
or a bag made from brightly coloured beads.

The world is a glass – neither half full
or half empty but ridged and beautiful in its own right.

costume shoes by Natasja van eike
Thursday 29th March

We have travelled to Utrecht today to visit the Impakt festival (sound and image) and to meet up with Natasja and Geert – two Dutch theatre people. Natasja was going to come over and work with us in the UK, but has just had a baby and it looks like this is now not possible. We have a great afternoon with her talking about her work making props and costumes, and performing. She talked a lot about the transformational power of objects and how a starting point for theatre could be just a strong visual image – such as a glass of water. When she was working in a theatre company called Warner and Consorten an improvisational exercise that the company would do involved taking an object and exploring fifty ways in which it could be used or transformed and then finding even more unusual uses for it. She talked about how her way of working involves re-looking at ordinary life. Also that two artists may choose a collection of objects – ten for example, and then hand them over to the other person to explore as a starting point for collaboration. We also discussed the tradition of puppetry and animating objects, thinking how the roots of animation lie in this very ancient tradition.
Natasja had done some work with a Kenyan puppety company who explored the technique of giving any object a set of eyes and a nose, once this has happened the object then starts to live.
She had just made a pair of shoes with runner beans all over them (running shoes! – but in Dutch the word for runner bean is something different!) for a latest piece of theatre – they were very sensual and strangely domestic at the same time.

Utrecht is very beautiful. Full of galleries, bookshops, junk shops, and spaces that look like they are being used for a whole manner of creative purposes. It is on a smaller scale than Amsterdam.
Unfortunately there is a big cock up with our accommodation and we end up staying in a shit hotel that at night looks like it’s being used as a brothel.

Hotel Poem

This room is warning me not to sleep,
it hums all night.
A cupboard is unhinged and
the TV flickers like a surveillance camera.
The wall is spattered with blood the colour of rust,
a guest has kicked a hole through the wall
like mouth sealed over with parcel tape.
I can hear howling through my dreams.

Friday 30th March

We went to the opening of the festival tonight. This involved the screening of a series of short films and the gathering together of a good cross section of film makers, students and lecturers from the university. I enjoyed work by a band called The Residents the best, I think. Particulary a film called The Gingerbread Man.

the residents

Their work used a colour scheme that was psychedelic or related to a ‘Bollywood’ style, and was witty, surreal and fast paced.
Jack was struck by an extract of a piece by Ola Vasiljeva called Michael Jackson – he liked its emotional, instinctual qualities. Quite a lot of the short films on show were overtly political or intellectually based and a little heavy handed at times.

There were also two installations opening this evening. We talked about the use of a gallery space, and how a video shown in an art space takes on this different context of being an installation rather than just a film. This gives the work a strange seriousness, a different audience response, I think.
The quality of production values was very high in the galleries. I liked one piece by Ursula Mayer that explored long, slow shots of a dancer in a very modernist environment. The colour palette was simple and the images calming to watch – lots of cubes, staircases and vertical lines.
We also came across a fantastic art book on its own in one of the galleries that people had to wear gloves to read. The text in it was very sexual which delighted me. The audience really enjoyed coming across it. Again, it prompted some thought about how placing a book in a gallery changes the way you interact with it, seeing it more as an art object as well as a piece of text with pictures.

Saturday 31st March
geert1.jpg
We meet Geert Jonkers this afternoon who founded The Odd Enjinears
. A lovely generous man who shares his working practice with us. He suggests we target spoken word festivals for work, and explore the use of funding for international exchanges – perhaps Dutch and UK sources of funding. Geert has been working in Spain recently collaborating with artists from that country to create a theatre piece about central female character and the metaphor of bull fighting. His own background is in percussion and music. He told us about a company called Traject (who are not around any more) but did a piece that involved a guided tour with the audience wearing head phones. The sound scape they listened to was recorded in Shanghai, but the environment they explored was Dutch. He has produced a travelling exhibition that showcases work by Dutch makers – all taking place inside 12 fridges! We also discussed the nature of narrative (how it was missing from a fair amount of the short films we have been watching) and the role of a creative director in the process of making a piece. Geert is very clear of the importance of this, and that it needs to be one person.

We leave Holland tomorrow. A strong feeling that we would very much like to work with both Geert and Natasja in the future.

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