Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Milking Cows/Amsterdam

Hej Hej,
Jah, it's been a little while since I have updated. So much has happened in such a short time that I will split it up into 2 posts. Last Lördag-Fredag (Sat-Fri), I went to the Netherlands, primarily for a five day experimental/group therapy-esque/other? jewelry workshop in the idyllic Dutch countryside, put on by my professors (Karen Pontoppidan and Ruudt Peters), with all the Master-level students, years 1 and 2. All together we were 17, and I think one of the objectives of the workshop was to break down our personal defenses and get to the gooey mess inside, and from that mess, start making objects ("from the guts!" was a frequent refrain). The theme of the workshop was "Fuck You", which, without thinking too much about it beforehand (a problem I have a lot), took it as a light subject. In reality, it dredged up a lot of repressed thoughts and feelings from everyone, I think, which was good to acknowledge, and cathartic in nature to be a starting point for making. We began with taking our pre-assigned seats at tables made of doors on wooden saw-horses (for those of you that have participated in MAKER, I don't know how to convey the amount of dread I felt looking at those things, although they are like flimsy popsicle sticks compared to the indestructible yellow beasts and 80lbs doors we use). We were each met with a large quantity of material specifically tailored to something we would never work with, given a choice. So what was I given, you might be wondering. I was given a huge pile of balled up thread-thin natural fibers. ummmm...yeah. They got me! They really knew what I wouldn't choose to work with. It was a great experience though, that first exercise, and the rest of the workshop. Every morning we rode cute bikes to the studio, about two miles away from the farmhouse we were staying at, on the flattest roads I've ever seen, worked till lunch, had lunch, sometimes a short break, more assignments till dinner, then dinner, than sleep. Ruudt Peters, whose studio we were using, hosts a similar workshop every summer. If you have the means, I would try and take it, it's a once in a lifetime experience. Did I mention that there's a sauna and outdoor shower there as well? That was a highlight for me. Also, I got to help milk a cow at the neighboring dairy farm, possibly one of the cows pictured above. Oh, and we took a little day trip to a very famous metals gallery, Gallery Marzee. That was both inspiring and too much for me at the same time. There was just so much stuff, and I got overwhelmed and queasy with everything towards the end, if that makes any sense...

Now for the photo tour of Amsterdam! Saturday I arrived a day early for the workshop to hang out with Feiko, (see first photo in this post) the red-haired viking as some of you from California may refer to him, and some ladies from the Master's group .We meandered around town and talked and ate good food, first from a grumpy man with a chip on his shoulder and a mullet on his head (i saw TONS of mullets in Amsterdam, and un-ironic mullets at that, what's the deal??), and then, from a guy who was so hospitable it was a little awkward. We walked around a lot and Feiko took great pleasure in all my wonderment and photography of things he usually took for granted, like the amazing buildings, tons upon tons of bikes, and all the beautiful waterways.
Central Station, Amsterdam:2. This is a nice view, ishn'tttt it?I'd live here:
Bikes bikes and more bikes:
Metal Geek Moments (crucial!):When I got to Amsterdam, I found this crazy event taking place: Yes, it is the homeless world cup. football teams are formed in various towns by homeless people, and this is their moment of...glory? Those crazy Dutch. Loved the flags though. I wonder what position he plays: Tulip Market. I could live here too:

When the workshop was done, I had big chunk of a day left to do whatever I wanted. I met a really cool person at the workshop, Matt Stone, who had been at Konstfack last year as a "special student" (kind of like an extended artist in residence) and is now an MFA student at the School of Visual Art in New York. He wanted to do the workshop again so much that he came again this year, which says a lot about the workshop experience, I think. Since he was staying in Amsterdam for a few extra days, we decided go see the opposite of what we had just done and witnessed at the workshop. We wanted meticulously crafted, academic, ultra-traditional Masterpieces, and we found all we wanted and more at the AMAZING(!!!) Rujksmuseum. I have never seen Vermeer, or Rembrant paintings that close-up. Or all the elaborate metal work, woodwork, and most of all, ink drawings-on-oil-painted-panel of English-Dutch navel battles. Those navel battle scenes, on that scale, with such perfection, took my breath away. I think you could spend your whole life doing just navel battle scenes of that magnitude, with that precision and beauty. Screw jewelery, screw sculpture, screw comtemporary art. I just want to draw navel battles. Epic navel battles are the new tennis!! I'm back in Stockholm now, and next post will cover a night out on the town...Miss you all.
P.S. I GOT A BIKE AND IT'S A CUTIE!! photos to come soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

vecka tvo

PREVIOUSLY....on "Beth in Sweden"...
Here are some of things I was talking about last week...My super cute keys:

The typical Swedish light switch, ooooooh:

A typical Swedish bathroom...well not exactly, since it's an art school, but I've never seen anything like it in the states. Notice how the doors go further down to the floor, and if you can see, notice the non-stick floor! I feel this to be more typically Swedish:

Hallå! It has been quite the ride this past week or so. I am starting to feel more comfortable here, and more homesick at the same time, if that makes any sense. I have begun work on random things at Konstfack, nothing planned, just spontaneous 3-D "sketches" in materials I found in the many recycling bins here. Everyone in my class was asked to just start making something, in order to begin feeling comfortable in the workshop, and also to warm up for our upcoming, much-anticipated/much-dreaded super-experimental workshop on a farm in The Netherlands, which starts this Monday.

I went with some classmates of mine to see a gallery whose members have been very helpful to and supportive of me over this past year, LOD gallery, a jewelry collective, located in the Kungsholmen neighborhood of Stockholm. The six members share the responsibilities of the store front and the well-equipped studio in the back, and the sense of individuality balanced with unity presented in the space is very inspiring. If you are coming to Stockholm, I highly recommend checking it out, and having a chat with whoever is working there at the time. They are enthusiastic about their work, and it leaves you with a positive, motivated feeling. Maybe it's a model I can look forward to participating in one day.

Today, I went with some classmates (do you see a pattern here? we move around in a blob, I think) to the original Ikea, since none of us really have much furniture. It is kind of shaped like the Guggenheim in New York, in that it spirals down, down, downnnn....if you think the Ikea in Emeryville is confusing, you haven't seen squat. This Ikea is twenty times more exhausting than the one back home. Although many scorn Ikea here, most still shop here. I managed to get some shelf-things, so now I can keep my clothes nice and organized. Super-woman Lisa was nice enough to drive all of us! The car was very roomy, as you can see here:

What else...I did laundry for the first time here and managed to wash my monthly transit pass, which was pure genius. I ruined it, and I had to go to the transit authority, called the S(tockholm)L(ocal Traffik) Central to get it replaced, and get a student-rate card at the same time. Thanks, Sweden! I wanted to make a note about the laundry system here, as well as systems in general. Someone I know recently had a rather unsettling, even scary confrontation with someone in their apartment complex over the laundry. In Sweden, every service tends to have a methodical, logical system to regulate it, and make everything fair. Again: thanks, Sweden! I really appreciate this, having experienced countless times waiting to get served at various places back home, having people cut you in line, or be really rude and selfish about their turn. In the laundry room, or "tvättstuga", you have a chart that you sign up on, for a specific time and date to do your laundry. It looks like this:

Every person gets a number, and then takes that number token and signs up for laundry, one day at a time, so, in theory, it's completely fair. that way, nobody is allowed to monopolize a certain time, and everyone gets a time that will work for them. It's actually very nice to plan ahead and set aside time to do your laundry.

That's about it...Saturday I'll be in Amsterdam with my friend and classmate Roberta, who is from Brazil. We will see Feiko, whom I met years ago when he was an exchange student at CCA(C). I can't wait! Till then...