#LookingforBortusk

Walking and cycling in the streets of Amsterdam, a few weeks ago I came across a little monster painted on a street utility box. I immediately took a picture to post on Instagram (of course!). Days later, I came across a few other similar characters and really started to get excited about these little monsters taking on the streets of the city. Each being signed "bortUsk" I did a simple Google search and found the artist's website: Bortusk Leer. This inspired me to start a hashtag: #LookingForBortusk (which I am currently the only one using on Instagram but...) I would love other people to join if they see any of these intriguing street art pieces. The artist has been working across the world so I'm sure we'd be able to gather a nice collection. So look around you, snap the moment and share! 

100% Amsterdam, 100% generosity

100% Amsterdam

As part of my work as an online editor for the European Cultural Foundation, I have been to the 100% Amsterdam performance by Berlin theatre collective Rimini Protokoll at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam

I wasn't sure what to expect from this performance which has gathered 100 people from the city of Amsterdam to each represent 1% of the city according to statistics such as the following:

  • 51% female, 12% over 65 years, 4% aged 0-4 years.
  • 230,549 of the 809,892 inhabitants of the city are single 
  • 69,857 are married with children
  • and so on... 

But how much do we know about these people? What are the stories behind these statistics? We may know how many of them are unemployed, but do we know how many are in love? looking for a partner? How many have saved a life? lost a friend? expect to die in the next 10 years? 

To the statement "I think only heterosexual couples can adopt", only two stand under "IK" (me in Dutch). The 98 others stand under "IK NIET" (not me).  

To the statement "I have a firearm in my house" only one stand under "IK". And we know from the very beginning of the performance when each Amsterdammer introduce themselves that this specific guy is a policeman. 

The response to these two statements only made me feel proud to have chosen this very city to be my home for the last 8 years.

There were many other questions asked, the most sensitive ones, such as "Who has cheated on their partner" or "Who has ever disobeyed the law", have been answered in the dark using torch lights for us in the audience to still see the "statistics". 

For a few hours, the stage at the Stadsschouwburg has been transformed by the stories of these people. Because statistics don't mean much without stories. But even if each one of the Amsterdammers on stage have good stories to tell, it is not enough to just gather them on a stage. Their stories have to connect, among themselves and with the audience, and 100% Amsterdam achieved that perfectly.

These people on stage were just marvellous.

It takes gut to go on one of the most prestigious theatre stages of the city and stand alone in the middle under statements such a "I am HIV positive" or "I have/had cancer", or even to tell two sentences about oneself. It takes a lot of courage to admit in public that you have broken the law. It takes generosity to stand with 99 people you don't know on a stage and give yourself to an audience of even more unknown people. 

"Creativity takes courage" once said painter Henri Matisse. These 100 Amsterdammers proved it a 100%. 

The 100% project has been performed in many cities before reaching Amsterdam, a.o. London, Philadelphia, Riga, Brussels, Berlin, Tokyo... and will continue further. Members of Rimini Protocol said Africa was on their wish list. 

If you are in Amsterdam, performances continue until 13 December 2014 at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam

A Review of the Graphic Details Exhibition: Stories Beyond Identities

I wrote a review of the exhibition Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women
Curated by: Sarah Lightman and Michael Kaminer, on show until  13 December  2014 at Space Station Sixty-Five in London. 

The piece starts as follows: 

Years ago when I first moved to Amsterdam, I visited an exhibition at the Jewish Historical Museum titled Superheroes and Schlemiels, Jewish Memory in Comic Strip Art.  Presenting a fascinating exploration of the many ways the rich history of comics in the 20th Century is intertwined with the hopes and struggles of the Jewish community, the exhibition highlighted Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s Superman, Will Eisner’s A Contract with God, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Joann Sfarr’s Rabbi’s Cat.

You can read the full article on the Comics Grid Blog

uppercase issue 23

I am very happy to be a contributor for the beautiful Uppercase Magazine. This issue is focused on Calligraphy, and I have written a reportage about a calligraphy guild in Paris.