Haagse Kunstkring

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Sinds vandaag mag ik me werkend lid noemen van de Haagse Kunstkring, afdeling letteren, theater & film. De Haagse Kunstkring is een vereniging van kunstenaars en kunstliefhebbers / kunstkenners met als doel ontmoetingsplek te zijn. De afdeling letteren, theater & film richt zich vooral op schrijvers, dichters, acteurs, regisseurs, mimespelers, choreografen, dansers, cineasten en scenaristen. Met mijn werk val ik in een aantal van deze groepen maar vooral ben ik actief als schrijver, cineast en scenarist.

De Haagse Kunstkring is een vereniging die op eigen middelen drijft en daarmee onder andere een pand op de Denneweg in stand houdt. Ik ben blij dat ik me bij het illustere gezelschap van de leden van de kunstkring kan voegen en hoop dat deze vereniging voor mij een podium kan zijn om mijn kunst te delen met een groter publiek en hoop over niet al te lange tijd te kunnen exposeren of een boekpresentatie te houden met recent werk.

Meer informatie over de Haagse Kunstkring is te vinden op www.haagsekunstkring.nl.

Alice Anna Verheij

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Year’s end and new beginnings.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all that I can permit myself to contemplate. John Steinbeck

I was born on a New Year’s Eve. Nepali New Year’s Eve on April 13 to be exact. Not the one we celebrate here. I wasn’t aware of that until last year. Working and living in Nepal made me realize it. Of course it is of no importance besides the fact that I nowadays celebrate the New Year twice a year. Once is my own new year, the other one is everyone else’s new year. And every year I reflect on the past year, look back a year, or two or three, and compare. Compare how my life is compared to the previous New Year’s Eves. I’ve always done that because I solemnly believe that when times are hard it is good to look back and based on the comparison understand where the progress has been. I thrive on progress and change, that’s why I do that. Because I also believe that the year I can no longer define progress in any aspect I will have lost my soul.

Past nine years have brought joy, challenge, pain and sorrow. So, on the one scale is all that defines me now as the person I am and what I think is good. The other scale is loaded with the negative, the disasters, illnesses and headwind. And I do not even try to objectivate the outcome. Because if I do I I can not be sure that the overall balance is positive. I simply don’t know if I’m better off now than a year ago. This year has learned more than any year before that the negative might just as well bring a lot op positive things and the seemingly positive can be a dark thing.

A year ago I was in love, and love was answered. In another place in the world, far away from home I had unexpectedly found a woman who I fell in love with and in spite of a massive ravine between our cultures. I felt my life had changed and I planned to move away from Europe and start another life in Asia. It wasn’t even a dream but it was a reality and steps were made, choise were made and I felt so good. In February the axe fell. Totally unexpected. Cultural differences prooved unbreacheable. I had to let go and to be honest, I had already done so the day I stepped on that damned airplane that flew me back to my European life in January. Sometimes I still feel I shouldn’t have boarded that plane but just stayed. For that new life. For love.

I didn’t stay. I flew back. I lost my love.

It tumbled me over and then it was the April New Year’s Eve and I turned fifty, thinking it didn’t matter to me at all. But it did. A lot, an awful lot. I fell sick and the summer went unnoticed. I did not live.

By fall I started breathing again. I published a novel and a photobook. Photo exhibitions followed and there is still one ongoing until February next year. Four days after my birthday on April 18 I was in bed with a bad flu and I found a painting on the internet. I swept me off my feet. I had to know what that painting was and I started researching. I found out it was made by a nineteenth century painter who lived in Kensington, London. ‘Flaming June‘ made me restart my life. Research learned me that there was a dispute about the model who sat for Frederick Leighton for thet specific painting. That dispute led me to a forgotten woman who died in the 1930’s but who was three decades earlier one of the most beautiful women in England. And gradually a story unfolded which was already there waiting to be revealed. More on that can be read here: www.woordenstorm.nl/lachrymae.

Flaming_June,_by_Fredrick_Lord_Leighton_(1830-1896)

It’s end of December now, tomorrow is the last day of this year. I am working hard on my new novel which has evolved in a trilogy about three women, about emancipation, about relationships, war, poverty, wealth, beauty and decay. And about me. It’s the work I will have to write in the coming year, maybe even years. I already know most of the story but I also know that as always it will grow and evolve in a much more detailed and compelling story. My biggest work ever. And tonight I look back. Back to this crazy year.

My life is in many aspects destroyed in the past decade. My body is defect in a very private aspect and I feel deep sadness about that. It actually is the reason why relationships scare me. I don’t think anyone can help me with that, it is very much my own struggle to get some peace over that. My economics are, well they are virtually non-existent. To Dutch standards I am poor and in debt to a level that I will never overcome, no matter what I do and no matter how hard I work. This was the year that I had to learn the harsh reality of not having the money to lead a normal life. I don’t have my own front door anymore, most of my belongings have gone (which for the most of it I don’t mind at all), I can hardly afford transport to anywhere and my social life is becoming smaller and smaller. There are days I do not have food. But this year also learned me that I have the ability to go on and after a year living way below poverty standards I am still here. The most important thing that happend to me this year is that I relearned to make decisions about my own life again. Because I did.

Which brings me to next year.

January will be very difficult. They’re coming to take some of my things away. I won’t be there myself. Complicated story. Pressure is building on me rapidly and life will certainly not improve in January. But important moves are being made. Finance stuff for instance. In the coming months it will all become more transparant and that will inevitable lead me into some sort of debt reduction scheme or bankruptcy. Life won’t end over that. What will happen is that I’m entering a couple of years of very poor living standards but I have the assurance that they won’t be worse than they are now. And yes, that old divorce thing will be corrected in the coming months and that might very well bring a lot of relief. If only because the negative economic part of that will be lifted and redevided in a manner that is fair and making my life easier. It’s all the direct result of the I choice made this year to start rebuilding my life after a downwards spiral that had caught me in the past nine years.

And then there is art. The other major decision I made is that my life will be about writing my books, making my photos and filmwork and focus on the arts as my line of business and the major driving force in my life. It even tops relationships. I know now I can not make any concessions anymore in regard to the art I make and the reason why I do that. Because writing is for me like breathing. There is no way that I can stop that or want to do so. Which made me to choose a pseudonym for writing my future work. Enter Anna Ros. 2012 has brought me a lot on the artistic plane because I’ve grown and made major steps forward but 2013 is even more promising in that. My work improved and so did my writing. I have become confident in that work. I know my abilities and I know where improvement is needed. And there is a lot out there waiting for me to take on. The trilogy being the most important work but there’s also that other loosely related work which I make with a befriended writer. It will surprise a lot of people and is really exciting to make. And of course the film will get finished in 2013, at last. Not as one major work but as a series of three or four short documentaries, portraits of specific people telling the story of forgotten refugees.

And love? Well, that is something else entirely. I am not chasing it to the intensity that I did in the past years. If it happens, it happens. Which doesn’t mean I am not in love because I think I am. To a certain extend. Maybe 2013 will be a good year for love. I would like that but of course that’s uncertain. What is certain is that it will be a great year for friendships. With the few people out there who really know me.

So, this New Years Eve is a very unclear one. Unclear on how my live will continue in 2013, uncertain about where I’ll live and with who. Uncertain about love. But very certain about what defines me: my writings.

I wish all of you a good 2013. With health and love. Skip the economics and other non important things of life, just go for happiness and health. That should suffice.

Love,
Alice Anna

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

A postcard from Jane.

Today, to my surprise, I received a postcard from Jane. Jane Morris. She lived in England between 1839 and 1914. She was a model. In those Victorian times she was one of the three grand ladies of painting next to Elisabeth Siddal who was portrayed as Ophelia by the great painter John Everett Millais and Dorothy Dene, one of the three muses I am writing about in my new novel. Dorothy was no doubt the most beautiful of the three but she was a kind of Marilyn Monroe and died at a too early age of 39 presumably of laudanum overdose but probably due to an abortion that went wrong.

Anyway, Jane Morris was as a model rather surprisingly probably the most successful of the three women. She was married to a known and respected painter and by that was wealthy compared to others. And she was the lover of Dante Gabriel Rosetti, the prince charming of the pre Raphaelites. Jane is the most portrayed and Jane was no doubt the least talented of the three models in those days. Dorothy was an actress and Elisabeth Siddal a very talented paintress. Jane however was a model of vry humble working class descent, her talent being a mystifying beauty and an enduring inspiration to both Rosetti as her husband William Morris.

So, Jane wrote me a few days ago from London. Having lunch on a boat not far from the Tate where her portraits hang, in between writing her lifestory. A couple of months ago we’ve met in a café just around the corner where I live. She told me about her life and I told her about mine. You see, I identify as much with Lena Dene as my table partner identifies with Jane. Lena is, as you might already know from my other writings, the younger and unknown sister of the fore mentioned Dorothy and in real life was named Isabell Helena Pullen, a cockney girl by birth. Anyway I talked to Jane, or her reincarnation, that day and was struck by the amazing resemblence of her with the Jane from way back then. During the following months I researched for my book and in the process thought of this Jane many times. I saw her portraits hundreds of times. And now I received this wonderful postcard. Seems she’d been thinking of me too in the past time and as she wrote followed my advice, went back to London and started writing. I wonder what will come of that.

Hopefully we’ll meet again soon.

© 2012 Alice (Lena) Anna Verheij

De wereld veranderd niet.

Als documentair kunstenaar wordt ik soms getroffen door analogiën in oude kunst met mijn eigen werk. Christa Zaat, een facebook kunstverzamelaar die een onvoorstelbaar fraaie verzameling Victoriaanse en Edwardiaanse schilderijen op haar facebook gepubliceerd heeft, verraste me met een schilderij van de Engelse schilder Walter Langley. Zijn schilderij ‘Waiting for the boats’ laat vissersvrouwen zien die wachten op de boten die op haringvangst buitengaats waren. Ze kijken met afwachting, spanning en soms angst naar de zee bij de haven. Komen de mannen terug? Zijn alle boten er? Is mijn geliefde er bij? Of mijn zoontje?

Het schilderij laat het leven zien van de vrouwen in mijn familie een paar generaties terug. Mijn opa was immers een visser. En zijn vader ook. De spanning op de gezichten zijn een voorbode van het leed dat mogelijk op de vrouwen wacht. Want als de mannen niet terugkeerden lag nog zwaardere armoede in het verschiet.

Walter Langley (English painter) 1852 – 1922
Waiting for the Boats, 1885

Maar het schilderij riep bij mij nog iets heel anders op. De treffende gelijkenis in de uitdrukking op de gezichten van de vrouwen die ik fotografeerde in een vluchtelingenkamp in Nepal zes weken nadat een brand hun kamp en alles wat ze bezaten verbrandde. Ik weet overigens bijna zeker dat enkelen van hen inmiddels in Amerika of Australië, Nederland of Nieuw Zeeland of in een ander land wonen, begonnen aan een nieuw en minder uitzichtloos maar zeker ook moeilijk bestaan.

© 2011 Alice Anna Verheij
Vluchtelingen vrouwen en kinderen wachtend op hulp, mei 2011 Goldhap Camp, Nepal

De vrouwen op mijn foto wachten op wat er gebeuren gaat. Er wordt die dag hulp gebracht maar of zij daar wat van krijgen is niet duidelijk. De zwaarte van hun bestaan drukt op ze als een loden last en de ogen stralen niet alleen berusting uit maar soms ook wanhoop. Het beeld van deze foto is er slecht één van de honderden, nee duizenden, die op mijn netvlies staan en die ik in vele foto’s en videobeelden heb. Ze doen pijn. En ze motiveren me om door te gaan met wat ik doe: de beelden delen met een ieder die bereid is de ogen open te houden voor het leed van anderen. Mijn vrouwen zijn geen visservrouwen maar vluchtelingen, gevlucht voor een regime dat niet schroomde om een groot deel van het eigen volk het land uit te jagen. Zoals de visservrouwen de slachtoffers waren van hun armoede in een maatschappij die niet voor ze zorgde.

Er is in pakweg honderdvijfentwintig jaar in werkelijkheid niets veranderd. De ogen van zij die het zwaar hebben laten dat zien. In 1885 en in 2011, dezelfde blik, vergelijkbaar leed:

Hierbij nog wat gegevens over Langley’s schilderij voor de liefhebbers (met dank aan Christa):

Langley’s mastery of watercolour allowed him to capture the clear morning light of Cornwall as the fisherwomen wait on the quayside by the seawall in the last few moments of leisure when they are able to share news, knit and read letters from relatives as they await the arrival of the herring fleet that has been away at sea and is returning with the day’s catch. All is still and peaceful before these women’s strenuous daily work begins and the women have to unload and clean the fish. The youngest of the women appears to be concerned about the arrival of the boats, perhaps nervous that not all of them will return; many men were killed in ocean storms. The anxious expression on her young face is in contrast to the weather-beaten skin of the older women who are used to sitting and waiting for the boats. It is this subtle sentiment that Langley was able to capture so convincingly, because he understood the women and their hopes and fears and knew what it was like to be poor and to work hard.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Ophelia

Ik heb iets met gekte. Met de gekte in me en met mensen die afwijken van wat ‘men’ gebruikelijk vindt. Als iemand me gek noemt voel ik me gecomplimenteerd want voor mij houd dat in dat ik gezien wordt als niet conform wat die ander als gebruikelijk ervaart. Dat is vaak immers iets dat ik als grijs en onbetekenend ervaar. Ik loop niet in de groef want de groef is me vijandig en waar ik binnen hokjes, kaders en regels gedwongen wordt dan voel ik me beroofd van mijn vrijheid.

In de geschiedenis zijn er veel vrouwen geweest die voor gek versleten werden. Aangezien ik me al wat langer bezig hou met het einde van de negentiende vanuit het perspectief van vrouwen en kunst, kan het niet anders dan dat ik geraakt wordt door kunst uit die tijd die over die gekte gaan. Millais‘ Ophelia is één van de, zo niet hèt belangrijkste, schilderij uit die periode en juist dat schilderij gaat over een vrouw die slachtoffer wordt van haar eigen gekte. Het is als schilderij ook op een wijze tot stand gekomen die bijzonder is.

Toen Millais, één van de belangrijkste Pre Raphaelite schilders, het op zich nam om een bijzonder werk te maken koos hij voor Ophelia. De tragische vrouw uit Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Als model werd Elisabeth Siddal door hem gekozen. Siddel was een prachtvrouw en veelgevraagd model voor schilders als Gabriël Rosetti en dus ook Millais. Maar hoe schilder je een vrouw die sterft in een meer? Welnu, er werd een gevuld bad geplaatst waar Lizzie in ging liggen. Om te voorkomen dat de mooie dame het te koud kreeg in het bad werd het bad verwarmd door er brandende kaarsen onder te plaatsen. Dat ging lange tijd goed.

Echter, Millais was zo verdiept in zijn schilderwerk dat toen op zeker moment de kaarsen waren uitgebrand, hij dat niet door had. Siddal echter reageerde niet en uiteindelijk raakte ze zelfs buiten bewustzijn. De rest is geschiedenis en vooral voedsel voor anekdotes over de schilders en hun modellen. Natuurlijk ontstond er voor Millais (en zijn vrienden) het nodige gelazer door het voorval maar veel belangrijker, uiteindelijk kwam zijn schilderij er toch. En de Ophelia van Millais is nog steeds het topstuk uit die tijd. Wanneer de stroming in de schilderkunst waar hij toe behoorde genoemd wordt is zijn Ophelia de referentie.

Maar wat stelt zijn versie van Ophelia precies voor?

In Shakespeares Hamlet heeft Hamlet op zeker moment en oogje op de mooie maar wat vreemde Ophelia, de dochter van Polonius en zus van Laërtes. Hamlet wil Ophelia huwen maar het komt er niet van. Haar vader Polonius is eerst tegen een verbintenis tussen de twee maar Hamlet is machtig en na een reeks incidenten rond Hamlet en Ophelia waarbij hij haar uiteindelijk aangeeft maar beter het klooster in te gaan ontstaat er een ruzie tussen Hamlet en Polonius. Polonius sterft onder de handen van Hamlet en vrij snel daarna slaat de waanzin toe bij Ophelia. De bevolking van het naburige plaatsje ziet haar bloemen strooiend en onbegrijpelijke liedjes zingend in het land. Laërtes komt terug uit Frankrijk om verhaal te halen over de dood van zijn vader. Na enige tijd wordt het verhaal de wereld in geholpen dat Ophelia uit een boom in een kreek is gevallen en verdronken. Laërtes echter is ervan overyuigd dat ze zelfmoord heeft gepleegd. De waarheid wordt niet duidelijk en Hamlet besluit om onder het gewicht van de dood van Ophelia haar broer te laten weten dat hij van haar hield zoals nog geen veertig broers zouden kunnen. Maar Hamlet is zoals bekend een onoprecht en kwaad mens. Aangezien Ophelia veel bloemen en kruiden uitdeelde maar zichzelf alleen wijnkruid gaf dat bekend stond als giftig en daarnaast ook gebruikt werd als middel om abortus te plegen (en een bestanddeel van grappa is maar dat is een geheel ander verhaal), wordt de toeschouwer duidelijk gemaakt dat Ophelia daadwerkelijk tot waanzin verviel als gevolg van de dood van haar vader en uiteindelijk zelfmoord pleegde. Waardoor Hamlet dus meer bloed aan de handen heeft.

Het is die Ophelia die door Millais op magistrale wijze geschilderd werd. In rust gestorven in het water van een ondiepe kreek. Gekleed in een prachtige jurk en bestrooid met bloemen en kruiden en met een serene uitdrukking op het gezicht alsof ze vrede heeft met haar dood. In haar dood is ze wellicht mooier dan in haar leven. Ondanks dat in Shakespeare’s stuk Ophelia als gek geworden wordt afgeschilderd kan de vraag gesteld worden of ze eigenlijk niet heel normaal was. De rouw om haar vermoorde vader, de dreiging van de enge Hamlet die eerst om haar hand dingt maar vervolgens haar in een klooster wil opbergen, kunnen immers gewoon teveel geworden zijn om nog verder te willen leven. En is het dan gek om er uit te stappen? Is ze daarmee eigenlijk niet metaforisch voor eenieder wiens leven om uiteenlopende redenen te zwaar is geworden en daar de ultieme conclusie uit trekt? Ik zal de mens die het opgeeft nooit verwijten gek te zijn geworden. In sommige gevallen is het alles behalve gekte wat er op zo’n moment aan de orde is.

Millais echter was, zo gaat het verhaal, gevangen door Elisabeth Siddal’s schoonheid en maakte Siddal onsterfelijk door haar te schilderen als een overleden vrouw. En dat is vooral eigenlijk een mooi gegeven.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen op komst.

Vanaf half september tot na sinterklaas worden er twee onvergetelijke tentoonstellingen gehouden door mij en mijn collega Eveline van de Putte.

Deze slideshow heeft JavaScript nodig.

Van 15 september tot en met 26 oktober is UNFORGOTTEN te zien in de Domkerk in Utrecht. Daarna zal deze tentoonstelling van 10 november tot 7 december te zien zijn in Café & gallerie Quirky in Den Haag.
UNFORGOTTEN is een tentoonstelling met de beste foto’s uit ons bestand van 18.000 foto’s die we in het kader van het Headwind project gemaakt hebben in Nepal, Sikkim (India) en Nederland. De foto’s laten het leven van de vluchtelingen uit Bhutan zien in de kampen in Nepal en gaat in op de resettlement van hun waardoor zij in enkele jaren in diaspora worden gebracht.

  • 15 september – 26 oktober
    Domkerk Utrecht
    Project presentatie en vernissage met live muziek op zondag 23 september om 12.30u.
  • 10 november – 7 december
    Café & galerie Quirky, Tasmanstraat 128 Den Haag
    Vernissage en fundraising dinner (traditioneel Nepalees-Bhutaanse schotel) met live muziek op zaterdag 10 november om 18.00u.
    Reserveren gewenst. Prijs: €20 waarvan €5 gedoneerd wordt aan de Empowerment Foundation voor het Headwind project.


Reserveren is gewenst en kan op 070 3808502 of info@cafequirky.com

* In English *

From September 15 until October 26 UNFORGOTTEN, the photo exhibition, can be seen at the Domchurch in Utrecht. UNFORGOTTEN will be brought there in co-operation with the Domchurch Citypastoraat.
Special presentation of Headwind and UNFORGOTTEN is on Sunday September 23rd at 1 PM.

From November 10 until December 7 UNFORGOTTEN will travel to Cafe & gallery Quirky in the Tasmanstraat 128 in The Hague. The vernissage on Saturday November 10 will be followed by a fundraising dinner at 6 PM. Cost €20 of which €5 is donated to the Empowerment Foundation’s Headwind project. Reervations needed and can be made at 070 3808502 or info@cafequirky.com.

Best film since a long time: ‘Historias que so existem quando lembradas’.

I am as much a film enthousiast and watcher as I am a film maker. Same goes for photography and same goes for novelwriting and poetry. I truly love the art that I make and that I enjoy seeing and experiencing. And of course I have some criteria for what I find beautiful and of high quality. And very rarely I find something that is of such amazing outstanding quality that it makes me humble as an artist.

Even rarer is to watch something, like a movie for instance, that in all aspects is so vlose to my own work and to what I desire to make. Tonight I had such an experience and I feel that – together with what has been going on in the past few weeks – will influence my further work profoundly.

Tonight I got to watch the movie ‘Historias que so existem quando lembradas’ of the Brazilian director Julia Mura who also wrote the script. The film showed me what I wish to be able to make someday in my life. Script, photography, music, coloring, camera handling, editing and directing is absolute perfection. I do not recall to have seen a movie of this quality since ‘Una giornata particolare‘ which is my all time favorite movie.

The story is simple. In a fairy tale village somewhere in Brasil people get old but do not die. They just live their daily lives. One day a young girl comes to the village. She makes pinhole photographs and her being in the village all of a sudden leads to adjustments in the behaviour of the villagers who slowly but gradually accept her presence. She stays with an old lady who bakes the bread for the villagers. An old lady who just wants to die to be reunited with her husband who passed away a long time ago. But the old lady bakes the bread and cannot be missed, so she doesn’t die. The young girl connects with the old lady to in the end set her free and become part of the village herself.

The story is a metaphorical story, a fairy tale about love, about mourning the dead, about growing old and about learning to die, to accept the inevitable at the time that’s most suited. It is a story about the mortality of man.

The director made the best use of the locations and the colors that were at hand to create an atmosphere of tranquility and tenderness. The film is in all its aspects a statement of love. The way it was shot and edited made it into a film that is really moving. The music in the film underlines the story in an amazing way and the photography is very surprising, beautifully stylistic and of extreme quality. I have never ever seen anything like this.

If you have the opportunity to go see this movie, please do so. If you love cinema you just have to.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

The Story of Mary Lloyd.

She was a beautiful and praised model at the end of the 19th century. Then she was forgotten.
Until 1933 when a newspaper article told her sad story to it’s readers. The she was forgotten again.
Until 1996 when Dr. Martin Postle, a British art historian discovered photographs of Lord Frederic Leighton’s atelier just after he died showing multiple paintings for which Mary posed. Just like she posed for Frederic Brock when he made the Victoria Memorial years later. Then she was forgotten again.
Until I saw the painting by Frederic Leighton titled ‘Flaming June’ and learned about the dispute regarding the model who sat for Leighton when he painted this painting. That triggered and puzzled me. And when I found out about Mary’s story there was no way back for me.

Mary Lloyd, the forgotten model is the main character in my upcoming Dutch language novel (hopefully to be translated into English later) De Engel van Kensington (The Angel from Kensington). Although large parts of Mary’s life are unknown and impossible to retrieve from the past the story of Mary Lloyd, the upper middle class girl who became a painters model and lived a rather quiet life, is a beautiful story full of 19th century fin de siècle atmosphere, 20th century interbellum excitement and love.

Mary Lloyd who at seventy was still a beautiful woman leading a poor life as a seamstress and housekeeper but looking back at a wonderful modelling career, deep friendships, beautiful art a two loves of her life. So, what really happened in Mary’s life?

The Angel from Kensington is planned for publication before Christmas 2012. The story of Mary Lloyd starts again today.

Alice Anna © 2012

Ik zal altijd verliefd kunnen zijn.

The Favourite Poet (1888) – Lawrence Alma Tadema

Ik zal altijd weer verliefd kunnen zijn.

Vele liefdes heb ik mogen kennen
bestendig zijn ze nooit gebleken.
Maar ondanks onafwendbaar hartzeer
heb ik de liefde nooit ontweken.

Waar anderen verbitterd raken
gekwetst door ongeneeslijke pijn
heb ik gelukkig het vermogen
altijd weer verliefd te kunnen zijn.

Spannende vrouw of mooie man
dat heeft me nooit veel uitgemaakt
het is bij mij altijd iets geheel anders
dat doorgaans mijn hart aanraakt.

Waar anderen gefrustreert verzaken
en ontwijken een romance zo fijn
zal ik op dat onverwacht moment
zomaar weer verliefd kunnen zijn.

Alice © 2012

Ich liebe jeden, der mich gefällt.

There are woman from long ago that I admire. A few years a go a dear friend gave me a framed photograph of one who has become some sort of muse for me: Zarah Leander. The strong hearted and beautiful Swedish actress and singer who made such brilliant performances in German films in the early 20th century. Her real name was Sara Stina Herdberg. During the second world war she decided to stay in Berlin as she worked for Hitler’s regime albeit without publicly taking sides. Early in her career and even during the war she did however publicly denounced the Nazi’s by singing strong anti Nazi songs in a cabaret. But she was contracted by UfA, Hitler’s propaganda film company, a contract she took for the money. In 1943 however she returned to Sweden and was possibly unjustly controversial for the rest of her life because of her decision to stay in Germany during the war in the city she loved so much. First and foremost she was an actress, secondly Swedish and thirdly a Berlin woman who could not drag herself away from Germany that had been so good for her in the 1920’s and 1930’s. A choice that did not turn out well for her but in which she was not unique.

In spite of her disputable choice to stay in Berlin it is very obvious that she was a great actress and singer and her performances were no less that Marlene Dietrich’s who was in many aspects comparable except for the wartime choice they made. Zarah Leander lived until the end of the seventies and her career never really took off after the war, she was tainted in the eyes of many.

Zarah Leander, 1936

Still, I see and hear an actress with a great voice and a woman who was in her own right strong. Some of the songs she sang in films are amazing. Particularly this one where a woman takes position and denounces dependency on the love of only one (man). She tells the audience that she decides to choose her lover in spite of the heartbreak the previous one caused. She is the one who decides and she does not become dependent on that single person because ‘there are so many in this world and I love the one I like’. It is this attitude that the song reflects that is close to my heart and the very reason I will always permit myself to fall in love. And honestly, I love the songs of Zarah Leander. This one by the way comes from the film ‘Es war ein rauschende ballnacht’ made in 1939, the lyrics are by Theo Mackeben. I’ll guess I’ll translate it into Dutch some day soon.

Alice © 2012

Es ist ja ganz gleich, wen wir lieben
Und wer uns das Herz einmal bricht
Wir werden vom Schicksal getrieben
Und das Ende ist immer Verzicht

Wir glauben und hoffen und denken,daß
einmal ein Wunder geschieht.
Doch wenn wir uns dann verschenken
Ist es das alte Lied

Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen
Es gibt auf Erden nicht nur den Einen
Es gibt so viele auf dieser Welt
Ich liebe jeden der mir gefällt
Und darum sollst du heut mir gehören
ich will dir Treue und Liebe schwören
Wenn ich auch fühle, es muss ja Lüge sein
Ich lüge auch und bin Dein !

Wir kamen von Süden und Norden
Mit Herzen so fremd und so stumm
So bin ich die deine geworden
Und ich kann dir nicht sagen warum
Denn als ich mich an dich verloren
Hab ich eines Andern gedacht
So ward die Lüge geboren
Schon in der ersten Nacht

Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen
Es gibt auf Erden nicht nur den Einen
Es gibt so viele auf dieser Welt
Ich liebe jeden der mir gefällt
Und darum will ich heut dir gehören
Du sollst mir Treue und Liebe schwören
Wenn ich auch fühle, es muss ja Lüge sein
Ich lüge auch und bin Dein !

The benefits of being ill (for a while).

Sometimes life travels at lightspeed for some. The reasons why are usually a totally unpredictable combination of events, challenges, situations and probably more known factors like character, emotion, personality, ambition and health. For me it’s not difficult to attach something personal to all of these words but the last one has, for the time being, become like the sand in the machine. And that was about time.

There’s no need or ambition in me to go through that whole string of words but a few things are at this moment determining my life in the short term. That is until expectedly the end of this year.

So I fell ill. An intense flu crossed my path and although that is no drama at all for me it meant that I for the first time in many months was forced to take a break. If only for a week or two. And taking a brake from work, obligations, efforts and ambitions forces one to think. Usually.

In the coming months is a lot of work waiting for me and with a lot of luck I’ll be able to get it done before summer. The long awaited novel is getting printed and so are two photobooks. The latter two however still have to be produced from ground up and that is quite a job even for someone like me who is able to make beautifully layouted work in a relative short timespan. And then of course there’s the big one. The film. Still so much to do and so much of it only possible to be done by me. It was, is and will be the biggest time consumer for at least another couple of months. That isn’t everything on the agenda. Because I am turning this work of writing, filming, photographing and publishing my profession rapidly. I know exactly what I want to do in the next part of my life and in fact I have been doing that already since about two years. It feels good, it is me out there doing what I love.

But there’s also the demonic shadow of the past preventing me to build a business of it in my home country because of a business past gone bad (nothing special there either but the left overs are still quite unmanageable). So if I want to do what I do on a solid basis I will have to work internationally. The good news is, I love that. Still, being stranded by illness for a while does force me to revise plans. Not in the least because when out of the performance loop the mind starts asking questions. Making reality checks. And so plans change.

Sure, I still will start to work from abroad for a large portion of the year as soon as it can be arranged. Economics will decide when, I decide if. But the timelines and the way this will happen shift, turn and change. It is not realistic for me to work from Nepal as a home base. I will however keep visiting the country I love so dearly and keep following, filming and reporting the fate of my Bhutanese friends in and around the refugee camps. Not because I promised but because I see that as an obligation to do so. There are more angles to the Nepalese society and the developments of Nepal that I want to report about. But it will never be my only world.

I am still a novel writer and that will not change, just like my love for writing poetry and songs for entertainment. So there will always be times when I am not in Asia or anywhere else for local reporting or filming but in stead I’ll be somewhere, anywhere, writing a novel. And the topic will not necessarily be connected to previous work because my very being as a literary artist doesn’t allow fixation.

So what does all of this mean for the plans I had and for a part still have?

Well, I am the journalist writer, photographer and filmer interested and focussed on human and women rights in South Asia. No doubt about that. But maybe after finishing the film not for this year anymore. Probably if not almost certainly next year again. But I am also the heremit writer in a soft spot somewhere writing that next novel. The sort of novel is already decided and quietly I am starting up research for it already. It is going to be very different from previous work, a challenge to write (that’s never a surprise) and a very special book. And I will also every now and then take the stage with a song or a short story in whatever show with dear theatre friends.

It will mean that I will not leave my country permanently. It will mean that I will leave my country intermittently, sometimes for long periods. But I’ll always be back for long periods. Like this year. Because this year, after the dust has settled of the books and the film and the two years of work involving the Bhutanese exiles issue, I will take a break for something very different, to keep myself in shape and not loose myself in one topic to work on and to take care that my mind stayes free. (I will not drop the topic of the Bhutanese, I can’t but it will be not the main focus for some time.)

Sometime this summer the real work on my new novel will start in traditional writing style. Designing the essence of the story, the plot if there is one to be, the characters, events, images and emotions. It will be England from roughly the end of the 19th century until the 1930’s. It will be distiguished romantic painters and one specific exquisitly beautiful model. A girl who became a model by fate and lost that work also by fate, never known by the public by her real name because she was not so high class savvy as that other famous painters model in that time but by the names of Greec goddesses or biblical Heroïns and who faded away in history but by her image remained unforgettable. I long to write about the life and loves of that woman who was once ‘Flaming June’. And this novel is one that will take quite some time to write wether I am in the flow or not. But it is a certainty that this will be my next major work.

Alice © 2012

I don not want to live in the Netherlands.

My dearest friends in the Netherlands know it and a few even understand it. Most of my Bhutanese and Nepali friends do either not know it and when they do they certainly do not understand it. The fact that I do not want to live (or die) in the Netherlands, the land I was born and raised and have lived for almost all my life.

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

Many years ago a great Dutch novelist and poet wrote a poem explaining his feelings. His name was Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936). A writer who studied medicine, became doctor and started writing. He later enlisted as ships surgeon at a Dutch boat company and made many journeys to the far east. He’d seen China, Japan, Hong Kong and the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia) many times. His confrontation with Asia changed his life to the extend that he in the end detested the land he was born and raised in. Much the same like me at this point in my life. He returned to the Netherlands, went to South America, returned again. To Italy, to Tangier, to South Africa. He got malaria and tuberculosis and returned to the Netherlands in stead of Italy again and died in a nursing home in a small town in the middle of the country at the early age of 38 years. And although he had desired a seamans grave he was cremated at a cemetary where many literarians were either cremated or buried. Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was one of the last true Dutch literary bohemians and was for many years an inspiration for me in both work and life. He still is now I am slowly becoming yet another bohemienne who is detached from her motherland.

When people read and understand his poem ‘I don’t want to live in the Netherlands’ they might very well understand me. So here it is in English translation. Or at least my attempt to that which is by no means easy to do. Underneath the English version one can read the Dutch version which is extremely poetic and intense and shows the feelings of someone touched by travel to the far east and observing the ignorance and stupidity in the Netherlands. If I would have had the talent to write like him it could have been my poem. The rhyme didn’t survive translation, the intentions and intense feelings however did. After all I might be a novelist and a poet but I am from another time and another quality. I wish I would have been able to talk with him sometime.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live,
One has to constantly fulfill ones desires there,
Because of the neighbours,
Who eagerly peep through every hole.
I’d rather go living in the steppe,
Where one is not hindered by his next of kin:
For the crying of my lusts no heron will hasten itself,
No fox will accelerate its pace.

In the Netherlands I do not want to die,
and putrify in wet soil,
On which one never has lived.
I’d rather wander aching
And end up with the nomads.
My compatriots mock me: “He is a failure.”
Yes, that I could not damage them (any)more,
Has in liberty dejected me too often.

In the Netherlands I do not want to live
One always has to strive for something,
Think of the well being of ones fellow-creature,
Only in hiding one is allowed to affront.
But not thrash a face so it clatters,
Just because I don’t like that feature.
Abuse someone without a reason
Testifiess of loose morale.

I do not want to live in narrow houses.
That have thrown uglyness in towns and villages
by the thousands…
There they all walk with a stiff collar
– Not from style, but to show off
That one knows how it should be –
On Sundays to greet each other
Through streets in black parades.

In the Netherlands I do not want to stay,
I would grow fat and stiffen up.
It is too calm there for me, too dignified,
One speaks slowly there, never gets vehement,
And never dances on the feeble rope.
But the defenceless are tormented,
Never is such a lumpish farmers head decapitated,
And never, no never happens a great crime of passion.

J.J. Slauerhoff – translation Alice Verheij © 2012

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er steeds zijn lusten reven,
Ter wille van de goede buren,
Die gretig door elk gaatje gluren.
‘k Ga liever leven in de steppen,
Waar men geen last heeft van zijn naasten:
Om ‘t krijschen van mijn lust zal zich geen reiger reppen,
Geen vos zijn tred verhaasten.

In Nederland wil ik niet sterven,
En in de natte grond bederven
Waarop men nimmer heeft geleefd.
Dan blijf ik liever hunkrend zwerven
En kom terecht bij de nomaden.
Mijn landgenooten smaden mij: ,,Hij is mislukt.”
Ja, dat ik hen niet meer kon schaden,
Heeft mij in vrijheid nog te vaak bedrukt.

In Nederland wil ik niet leven,
Men moet er altijd naar iets streven,
Om ‘t welzijn van zijn medemenschen denken.
In het geniep slechts mag men krenken,
Maar niet een facie ranslen dat het knalt,
Alleen omdat die trek mij niet bevalt.
Iemand mishandlen zonder reden
Getuigt van tuchtelooze zeden.

Ik wil niet in die smalle huizen wonen.
Die leelijkheid in steden en in dorpen
Bij duizendtallen heeft geworpen…
Daar loopen allen met een stijve boord
– Uit stijlgevoel niet, om te toonen
Dat men wel weet hoe het behoort –
Des Zondags om elkaar te groeten
De straten door in zwarte stoeten.

In Nederland wil ik niet blijven,
Ik zou dichtgroeien en verstijven.
Het gaat mij daar te kalm, te deftig,
Men spreekt er langzaam, wordt nooit heftig,
En danst nooit op het slappe koord.
Wel worden weerloozen gekweld,
Nooit wordt zoo’n plompe boerenkop gesneld,
En nooit, neen nooit gebeurt een mooie passiemoord.

Movies That Matter.

If you haven’t been there, go there!

Movies That Matter is on in The Hague until next Wednesday when the party hit’s the theatre. And you better don’t miss it if you care for great filming, documentaries and human rights. All in an amazing mix. And next year there will be another Dutch film there as far as I am concerned.

That is also where my only criticism is to this wonderful cinematographic event. Too few Dutch films and too many films focussing on the Arabian Spring, the Middle East, North Africa and Iran / Iraq. As if there isn’t really happening much concerning human rights elsewhere on this beautifully godforsaken planet. Sure, there are films from other areas like China and elsewhere but it seems that the programming this year is a little too much influenced by the usual suspects. It is how it works, when there’s a hot spot on the globe you only have to wait for a year or so and all the film festivals get filled with documentaries about these regions. It would have been nice to see just a little more diversity.

Still, it’s a great little festival. One cinema and one theatre, being next door neighbours, showing great films from great film makers on topics that are important. In this time of Voice of Whateverland, X-Factor and all that crap it’s good, no essential, that festivals like these are there. Quite simply to keep the minds of the people in focus concerning the state of the world. Now that even my country, formerly a decent and social country, has become xenophobic and selfish (who the heel do they think they are that they have the right to even talk about cutting development aid funding) it is so clear to me that we need to grab the attention on what really matters in life. And that is not ecnomical crisis but that’s life itself. And where that is made impossible I can assure you people will loose dignity and decency. And when that happens it not religion but the arts that are the last straw for human values and human rights. Actually, looking at many films in the programma it is ever so clear that it is most of the time religion that is the cause of the problems.

So, do yourself a favor and go there. Watch some movies, talk to people. Get involved and when you’re at the flyer stand near the entry of the Filmhuis cinema, get yourself a Headwind flyer! If not this year, I hope to see you next year. In a seat watching my film.

Alice © 2012

QR Poetry

Old work but still worth a dedicated place on this site.

My favority short poem in QR code.

Alice © 2012

Photo fun.

Today was probably the first good day in the year. For photography that is. So we (me and two of my kids) went to the Gemeentemuseum  in my hometown The Hague. Probably the best museum we have in the Netherlands and certainly the one with the most challenging architecture, designed by Berlage early in the past century. I love the place and it is both an architects as a photographers dream.

And as I have the privilege of being able to work with a magnificent camera and just as magnificent lens it was high time to give the pair a good test. The slideshow on this page is the result and contains some of the best pictures made today. I hope you’ll like them.

Deze slideshow heeft JavaScript nodig.

Obviously I am not so much a portrait photographer but with this equipment and my daughter and youngest son I had a lot of fun making these. The exhibition was about miniatiruzation so there were doll’s houses, dolls, miniature furniture and even miniature real art in a miniature real art gallery. Totally amazing and some of the photos are made in a way that it’s almost impossible to understand that it’s miniatures you’re looking at. So, watch the slideshow and have a little fun.

All photos are of course copyrighted and not for redistribution in any form without my consent.

Alice © 2012