Dove

Op de website van Rop Gonggrijp, misschien wel de belangrijkste voorvechter van het goede gebruik van internet, waar ik terecht kwam door een facebook bericht, staat een postje over een reclame campagne van Dove (van de smeerseltjes, shampoos en doucheschuim). Het filmpje confronteert en net al bij eerdere campagnes doet het dat op het gebied van beeldvorming van vrouwen. In dit geval gaat het dan om het zelfbeeld van vrouwen. Dit is het filmpje.

Ik besef dat ook ik een issue heb met mijn zelfbeeld, een flink probleem.

Ik heb veel foto’s van mijzelf. Bijna allemaal gemaakt in de afgelopen acht jaar. Foto’s van voor 2005 zijn er amper meer, ze zijn gewist, verknipt, vermalen, verbrand, weggegooid, vernietigd. Omdat die foto’s mij wanneer ik ze zie herinneren aan een verleden waar bij zo goed als iedere foto ik mij herinner wat de pijn is die verbonden met me was op het moment van die foto. Zo af en toe op een onbewaakt moment wordt ik ongewild geconfronteerd met die oude foto’s. Er komen foto’s of negatieven boven of oude cd’s met foto’s. Soms een mapje of een brief met een bijgesloten foto. Die confrontaties zijn uiterst pijnlijk en nooit fijn.

Is dat normaal? Nee, dat is niet normaal.

De pijn van het moeten kijken naar een ongewenst verleden in die zin dat ik dan iemand zie die ik niet wens te zijn geweest is niet goed uit te leggen. Na 2005 veranderd alles in mijn leven en ook de foto’s veranderden. Waar op foto’s uit het verleden mijn lach in de loop van de jaren verdween en vervangen werd door een masker is op de foto’s na 2005 te zien dat er een nieuwe lach voor in de plaats is gekomen. Eigenlijk worden er zelden meer foto’s van me gemaakt waar ik niet op lach, zelfs al is die lach soms een minimale glimlach. Maar ben ik dan blij met die foto’s van tegenwoordig? Ja en nee.

Als fotografe is het beeld een essentieel deel van mijn bestaan, van mijn werk. En in de komende jaren zal het dat ook zeker blijven waarbij ikzelf dan ook nota bene onderwerp of lijdend voorwerp zal zijn in die beelden. Wat betekent dat ik mij comfortabel moet voelen bij afbeeldingen van mijzelf. Maar ik voel me lang niet altijd comfortabel met die afbeelding. Net als de vrouwen in het filmpje kan ik mijzelf niet als mooi zien. Dat is me nooit gelukt in het verleden en dat lukt me nog steeds niet. Ik kan mijzelf niet als aantrekkelijk zien. Dat komt door mijn verleden en door de codering die de samenleving in zich heeft en oplegt aan mensen, vrouwen in het bijzonder.

Over het geheel genomen ben ik niet echt heel erg ontevreden over mijn lijf, maar ik ben me maar al tezeer bewust van de beperkingen die structuur en operaties op het begrip schoonheid hebben gelegd. Als het om mijn gezicht gaat zie ik vooral de ‘foutjes’. De rimpeltjes die sneller zichtbaar worden dan ik wil, de plekjes die daar net als op andere plaatsen op mijn lijf te zien zijn, de wallen onder de ogen en hangende oogleden, de asymmetrie van mijn mond, mijn slechter wordende gebit en de leeftijdsonderkin veroorzaakt door overtollig vel. Ik zie een vrouw die snel ouder wordt, haar ‘prime’ voorbij is (wetende dat die er nooit geweest is), en die een toekomst voor zich heeft waar dat beeld niet aantrekkelijker wordt. Lelijk vind ik mezelf niet, maar aantrekkelijk beslist ook niet.

Ook ik ben gevoelig voor wat de wereld vind van het uiterlijk van vrouwen. Uiterlijk is belangrijk voor mij. Kleding, make up, het is voor mij essentieel om mijzelf goed te voelen. Zonder make up over straat gaan is iets dat ik niet wil en de kleding moet mij goed staan en zeker niet ouwelijk zijn. Terwijl ik nota bene mijzelf nu regelmatig in een kledingstijl hul van meer dan honderd jaar geleden. Mijn gevoeligheid op dit punt, mijn verleden ook, maken dat mijn zelfvertrouwen over mijn uiterlijk niet groot is. Het is zelfs zo sterk dat het soms minderwaardigheid oproept. Mijn angst om omwille van mijn uiterlijk, om de bouw van mijn lijf waar een schaduw van een ongewenst leven in te zien is, om mijn ouder wordend gezicht, afgewezen te worden in zoiets essentieels als de liefde is groot. Het is me een paar keer overkomen.

Ik besef dat ik voor wat betreft lijf, uiterlijk en mijn eigen beleving daarvan, een beschadigd mens ben.

Om die reden ben ik heel erg blij met de reclamecampagnes van Dove. Zeker met deze. Want het laat zien dat ons zelfbeeld bijna zonder uitzondering negatiever is dan het beeld dat anderen van ons hebben. En toch, ondanks het prachtige filmpje blijft er dat gevoel fysiek niet aantrekkelijk te kunnen zijn voor een ander. Zoals een vrouw in het filmpje zegt: I have work to do with myself. Ze heeft gelijk.

© Alice Anna Verheij

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 joyful death in Deventer.

Today I witnessed a heartbreaking scene in the streets of the old town of Deventer. The two young women were crying their hearts out over their tragic loss who was laid to rest in a simple coffin on a simple handcart pushed over the cobblestones by two grumpy sextons. The two were obviously anxious to get their job of transporting the remains to the graveyard done as quickly as possible but the women weren’t able to say their last goodbyes to the deseized yet.

Death in Deventerphoto © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

At the first attempt of closing the coffin the two men were interrupted by a loud cry: “No, no!”. The young lady dressed in deep black, obviously the widow, stopped them in their act to gaze at her loved one for the last time. Then, ruthlessly the sextons closed the coffin and soon after weeled the handcart away through the crowd who witnessed what happened. The two young women followed slowly, gazing with tears in their eyes into a distance unknown.

Not far around the corner the coffin opened of course and I suppose they all drank tea happily before replaying it all again. They were a few of the actors and entertainers that populated the successful ‘Dickens Festival’ in the beautiful city center of Deventer. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend there visiting and taking hundreds of photos, having wonderful conversations and enjoying tea, hot wine and the hospitality of the Deventer people. It was a truly amazing weekend and an example of how tens of thousands of people could have a great couple of days enjoying the visual spectacle of past times revived.

Everything was perfect. The clothes were amazing and many – if not all – of the people wearing the Victorian fashion enjoyed themselves as much as the crowd passing in the streets. Everything went smoothly and I didn’t see or hear a false note at all. What a great way to live up to Christmas this was. No matter what will happen I’m sure I’ll visit the Dickens Festival next year again. Maybe in a more perfected Victorian dress than my improvised outfit that I wore this weekend. I came back home with an immense amount of inspiration for the work on my new novel and a lot of new ideas I can use.

Thanks to the organising committee and the people of Deventer. It’s been marvelous!

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Over Albanië, een koning, zijn voorganger en wat Nederland daar mee van doen had.

Zaterdag is in Albanië koning Achmed Zog 1 herbegraven. Hij was opgegraven in Frankrijk waar hij na zijn overlijden onder het marmer was gelegd. Zog 1 was koning van Albanië tussen 1928 en 1939. Voor die tijd was hij een aantal jaren president van het land. De man was afkomstig van een feodale familie van landeigenaren in Albanië en had banden met het Ottomaanse rijk. In zijn regeerprediode werd hij eerst ondersteund door de Italianen en later de economische gevangene van de westerburen. In ’39 viel Mussolini Albanië binnen en moest de koning met zijn vrouw en twee dagen oude zoontje Leka vluchten. Via Engeland kwam hij uiteindelijk terecht in Egypte als beschermeling van koning Faroek aldaar. Toen deze werd afgezet moest de familie – met hun kapitaal – opnieuw vluchten. Deze keer naar Frankrijk. Jaren later overleed Zog.

Koning Zog 1 van Albanië

Een decennium voordat Zog 1 aan de macht kwam had Albanië ook even een koning. In 1913 en 1914 was er een Duitse prins genaamd Wied die door een alliantie van staten (Engeland, Frankrijk, Duitsland, Oostenrijk-Hongarije, Rusland en Italië) op de troon van Albanië was gezet. Het land was net internationaal erkend op de ‘ambassadeurs conferentie‘ in Londen in 1912 die een einde maakte aan de eerste Balkanoorlog. Maar prins Wied wist geen bal van Albanië en had kapitaal nog leger. Dus moest hij voorzien worden van een ‘politiemacht’ om de orde in het land te herstellen. Albanië werd in die tijd overlopen door onder andere Grieken, Ottomanen, Serven, Kosovaren en Italianen. Eigenlijk was er geen centrale regering die het hele land kon regeren en zeker ook geen krijgsmacht. Albanië was een prooi voor graaiers geworden. Aangezien Nederland onafhankelijk was in 1914 (en de rest van Europa in de Grote Oorlog betrokken werd) viel al snel de keuze op Nederland om een politiemacht te leveren. Zweden, de andere kandidaat had al een dergelijke klus in het Ottomaanse rijk. Die politiemacht was een soort ‘vredesmacht’ hoewel dat in die tijd met aanmerkelijk geweld gepaard ging. Wat dat betreft lijkt er nauwelijks iets veranderd te zijn in honderd jaar. Volgend jaar is het honderd jaar geleden dat de eerste internationale interventiemacht van Nederland voet zette op het grondgebied van een ander land op basis van een mandaat van een aantal grote mogendheden: er werden vier militairen gestuurd.

In het midden links generaal de Veer en rechts kolonel Thomson. (bron: Robert Elsie)

Na het nodige gedoe rond het kabinet dat net gevallen was, besloot de regering van Nederland om een contingent marechaussees onder leiding van generaal de Veer naar Albanië te sturen. Colijn was de minister van Oorlog in die tijd. Hij droeg een vriend van hem, kolonel Lodewijk Thomson voor, deze militair was een veteraan uit de Boerenoorlog en wist van wanten. Na de onverwachte val van het kabinet kwam de leiding echter in handen van voornoemde generaal Willem de Veer, de kandidaat van de nieuwe minister van Oorlog Borsboom. Thomson werd secondant. De mannen gingen gezamenlijk op missie met hun adjudanten de sergeants van Reijen en Stok.

De aankomst van prins Wied met zijn entourage in Dürres. (bron: Robert Elsie)

Eenmaal in Albanië zetten ze een politiemacht op en leverden ze strijd met met name de Grieken en Macedoniërs om het land in één hand te brengen. Daarbij kregen ze ondersteuning van de Britten die ook een klein contingent manschappen en officieren stuurden. Het lukte hen een macht van 1000 man op de been te brengen. Bij decreet van Koningin Wilhelmina werd de Veer het hoofd van de Albanese politiemacht en de troepen werden uitgebreid tot uiteindelijk 5000 man waarvan zo’n 800 getraind. Toen barstte er echter een Ottomaanse opstand uit in het zuiden van Albanië.

Prins Wied achter de baar met het stoffelijk overschot van de Nederlandse kolonel Thomson. (Bron: Robert Elsie hwww.albanianphotography.net)

Om kort te gaan, na maanden gevechten en de nodige slachtoffers waar onder Kolonel Thomson die uiteindelijk in Nederland begraven werd, moest de politiemacht zich terugtrekken. Naar geruchte is Thomson omgekomen door een kogel in de borst afkomstig van een Italiaanse sluipschutter. In 1914 verlieten de Nederlanders na minder dan een jaar aanwezigheid Albanië. De missie had jammerlijk gefaald en Albanië werd weer een decennium in onrust gestort. Totdat koning Zog de macht naar zich toe wist te trekken en het land wist te verenigen. Voor even.

Nu, zo’n honderd jaar later blijkt er nog steeds een hang te zijn naar een monarchie in Albanië, ondanks de krachten vanuit het buitenland die al die jaren gepoogd hebben het land te knechten. Na de Nederlanders en de Ottomanen, de Grieken en de Italianen lukten het zelfs de Russen niet om van Albanië een stabiel land te maken. De klein republiek is nog altijd straatarm, de Europese landen proberen nog altijd voor de Albanezen te bepalen wat goed voor ze is. En Nederland? Nederland weet allang niet meer dat het gerommeld heeft in de Balkan begin vorige eeuw want Nederland is heel goed in het vergeten van internationaal geklungel.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Heel veel meer gedetailleerde informatie over deze bizarre episode in de geschiedenis van Albanië en de Nederlandse bemoeienis met het land is te vinden op de website van Robert Elsie die zich specialiseerde in vroege fotografie in Albanië. Het verhaal van de Nederlandse betrokkenheid en de inzet van de Veer, Thomson en hun mannen leest als een filmscript. De geschiedenis is ook hier boeiender en dwazer dan de fantasie.

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

Trippin’

Today someone gave me something I desired for quite some time. An old little automatic photo camera which I intend to use for lomography (LOMO photography). However, not with a LOMO but with something special. Alice Anna is trippin analogue!

The Olympus Trip 35 is a legendary camera. One of the first compact cameras made in Japan and produced from 1967 to 1984. One of the longest camera production runs ever and a total production figure of more than ten million! Once they were all around. Mine is an early 1978 model in absolutely perfect condition. It’s works like a charm and the old selenium cell obviously is still ok.

iPhone photo by me.

The good thing about this camera is… well actually the good things are a list of good things like these:

  • 100% mechanic
  • no battery needed, no electronics
  • extremely durable and keeps working under very difficult conditions
  • full metal body, hardly any plastic used
  • proper handling weight, not too light and not too heavy
  • uses ordinary 35mm film
  • automatic exposure based on film ASA and selected focal range, so just click away!
  • hot shoe for flash and normal tripod connection
  • it even has an image counter 🙂
  • release knob with mount for self timer and wire release
  • great Zuiko f2.8 40mm 4 elements and 3 groups front focussing Tessar lens
  • mechanical shutter release lock and indicator when light conditions are too low

Needless to say, I love this camera, it’s simplicity and its built quality. As mine is a rather new 1978 type there are no production issues or faults at all with it and it can still live for another couple of decennia. The images coming from this camera are amazing. The lens is of very high quality and it was used by many well known photographers to make amazing work. One of the best known was David Bailey who also made some commercials for this camera.

Anyway, I hope this little one is going to be with me for a long time and some of the results will be of your liking. As of today you might find me Trippin’ along.

© 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

Is this me I’m looking at?

Today I made a walk round the block with my daughter. On just an ordinary Sunday late afternoon with the intention to visit a garden in the neighborhood and after that drink a beer at the café where I spend some of my days while researching and writing on my new novel. I seem to run on one café per novel.

I took my photo camera with me as I do quite often these days. I knew the garden was beautiful and when I’m together with Eva I also know that inspiration might start flowing. The pictures simply get better with the right company and I just love it when she comes along taking her sketchbook with her to work on some sketches. I see her work improving when allow ourselves to discuss it.

photo © Eva Verheij 2012

And sometimes we take photos of each other. So she made a couple of photos of me and one of these surprised me when I saw the result. Because of the neutrality of it. Many thoughts went through my head and I couldn’t get a grip on what it is that brings emotion to me while looking at my own photo.

At the cafe it did some post production editing on some of the photos and I am quite happy with a few of them. There is a series of water drops on leaves with amazing colors and some surprises in them that I will publish on Facebook as a series. The title will be ‘Emma’s Tears’ because I associate the drops on the leaves with tears and the photos were taken at ‘Emma’s Hof’ (Emma’s Court) close by.

‘Naked’ photo © Alice Verheij 2012

And while looking at the result of this photo escapade in the early hours of the night one photo drew my attention. It took a while but then all of a sudden it hit me. It’s a photo of a tulip in the wind unveiling it’s inner parts through the gaps in between the flowers leaves and through the sunlight that falls on the flower. For some reason I felt a parallel between the photo Eva made of me and the photo I made of the flower. The words describing that parallel is: fragility and vulnerability.

Because that is what I see when looking at myself on the photo made by my daughter. I can see that I have aged over the past few years. Quite rapidly. I can see that I’ve lost so much of all the layers encapsulating me. Looking at this photo I see myself emotionally naked. All the non relevant things have gone and what’s left is a face that shows vulnerability. A fragile face with traces on it of experiences that have been difficult. An when I look into my own eyes I see pain and a kind of softness that does not connect with the image I had of myself. The image of a strong woman who can do it all and who cannot be brought down.

The past evening Eva and I watched the movie ‘Untouchables’ and I realized that it must be easy to get hurt in the situation of both main characters and that it must be just as easy for me to get hurt. Because I lack the defense against bad times. Maybe that’s the reason why my next book is about a young and beautiful woman who was a great model in Victorian times but who had to face the reality of life, the reality of growing old in a difficult situation.

Things seem so much connected these days. What I do and make, how I write, the photos I take and even the music I listen to and the films I watch. I feel like that tulip, vulnerable and visible. I guess that’s what happens to some people at a certain moment in their life. And I feel tired of the fight for my existence in the past decade.

Alice © 2012

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

Media stigmatization of women.

Please just take a look at the following photo.

I guess that most people will see a beautiful woman. Some people will probably see that it’s a photo of Audrey Hepburn the 20ht century moviestar. Fashionistas will most probably see Audrey as the Dior woman she was: stylish and feminine. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some people, probably most of them men, will see a woman with gorgeous legs.

Now look at the following screenshot made from the homepage of http://www.nu.nl, one of the most visited news websites in the Netherlands.

In this case we see a pair of pretty good looking legs and a policeman. The text next to the photo read in Dutch ‘Large police action human trafficking Eindhoven.’ The byline reads ‘Distric Attorney’s office has information on abuse prostitutes.’

Apart from the loose use of the Dutch language by leaving out ‘unneccessary’ words the text next to the picture has a weird type of stigmatization connected to it. As if women with great legs wearing black stockings are prostitutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a male editor with a fetish for black lingerie ans stockings who made this news item.

The crazy thing is of course that somehow the second image is supposed to make the reader do a mental jump and let him or her associate it with prostitutes. It is of course an all too common way of manipulation of thought by the media. And also a very mysoginistic approach of the female image. Sexism is the word and stigmatization. It demontrates very clearly the juvenile approach to woman in general in the media. Because is does not stand on its own. No one can let me believe that the image on the side of the trucks of Hünkemöller, the lingerie reseller, is like it is because it’s the women who like to see this. Ok, personally I do like it a lot. No, that add on a truck was made from a male perspective and when people say it’s sexist I guess they’re absolutely right.

Now, I don’t mind a little sexyness in advertising and media. Absolutely. After all I love women, sorry guys. But what I don’t like and actually disapprove is news media that sexualize feminity and use that to label women as whores. It’s cheap, it’s stupid and it’s an appaling way to make news. Media stigmatizes women and does that by imaging like the above photo. And whether the guys believe it or not but if I wear sexy lingerie, stockings and maybe even garters or anything like that, I do that because I like it. Like most other women who do so, not because I’m a whore.

Alice © 2012

Te koop / for sale.

Wegens omstandigheden neem ik afscheid van mijn mooie Mamiya 645 6×4,5 cm grootbeeld spiegelreflex camera. Een juweel voor de professionele fotograaf die het echte analoge fotograferen met topkwaliteit nog weet te waarderen. Alles in uitstekende staat en recent nog gebruikt. Te mooi om weg te doen maar ik kan niet anders. Email me bij interesse. Ik verkoop natuurlijk alleen tegen een redelijke prijs en er is goed met me te onderhandelen.

Because of personal circumstances I am selling my beloved Mamiya 645 6×4,5 cm SLR camera. A jewel for the professional photographer who still values real analogue photography with the topquality. Everything is in mint condition and recently used. Too beautiful to sell but I have to. Email me when you’re interested. Of course I’ll only sell against a reasonable price.

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Alice

alice.filmt@xs4all.nl

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.

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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