Writer’s Block Happenings: Weeks 44, 45 & 46

Writer’s Block Happenings, this time featuring 50% more weeks! Wondering what’s hip and happening in and around Amsterdam? Wonder no more:

  • Talk Writing & Drink Booze! The 6th of November, Writer’s Block is hosting an evening full of alcohol and literature. Get to know the new board and get hold of our latest issue at the Crea Café from 20.00 and onwards.
  • KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival From 4-9 November, EYE is hosting the animation festival for adults, including Pixar, political animated shorts, and Comedy Central. Day pass/Unlimited Pass €32,50/€60. Tickets for single screenings tba.
  • Opening Vivian Maier exhibition On the 6th of November, Foam is going to open a new exhibition of street photographer Vivian Maier. Exhibition lasts till 28 January.
  • Harry Mulisch Festival Don’t forget, Dutchies have great literature too! On Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 november, De Balie will discuss Harry Mulisch’s works. Student tickets €7,50.
  • Mark Rothko exhibition @ Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, till the 1st of February 2015. An incredible amount of monumental works by Rothko are exhibited at the Gemeentemuseum of The Hague. Tickets are €13,50 for students.
  • IndieBingo and Beer Tasting. Music Valhalla Paradiso is hosting a bingo and beer-tasting event on the 4th of November. Prizes to win and beer to drink! Need we say more? Tickets are €5 and doors open at 19.00.
  • The Waste Land Get a better understanding of T.S. Eliot’s poem at De Balie. Student tickets €7,50. Oh, and guess who’ll be teaching a speed workshop of The Waste Land? It’s our very own Jane Lewty!
  • The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her. The first two installments of a collection of three films about a couple’s relationship. Starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain. In theatres from the 30th of October.
  • Interstellar. After travelling through dreams in Inception, Christopher Nolan’s latest film explores space travel and it’s prone to be a showstopper. In theatres from the 6th of November.
  • Mommy. The latest film by Canadian filmmaker and wunderkind Xavier Dolan about a widowed mother struggling with raising her difficult son. In theatres from the 13th of November.
  • Samba. Remember Intouchables? Those responsible for that heart-warming film have now come up with Samba, a story a migrant from Senegal who works as a dish washer in France. Starring Omar Sy, Tahar Rahim, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. In theatres from the 13th of November.

Don’t forget there’s a whole slew of events from the last few weeks that might still be going on! The complete list of events is always featured on the right of the page, so use the search function if you’re looking for info on a specific event that’s not on the above list. Do you happen to have a really good suggestion for the next edition of WB Happenings? Let us know through writerssblock@gmail.com, and we might include your suggestion in the next edition!

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Passionately Curious – Why You Should Never Kiss A Shark

Science is pretty damn awesome. For starters, it’s proven rather good at providing us with all kinds of nifty stuff: like the electronic device you might be reading this on, or the breakfast you had this morning, or the beer you drank way too much of last night. Probably, some of you are screaming at me right now: “Ah, but Mr. Author Person Guy! My beer’s not science! Science is, you know, quantum physics and biology and chemistry and computers and that kinda stuff!” Continue reading “Passionately Curious – Why You Should Never Kiss A Shark”

The Comic Loss of 2014

2014 has not been the best year for comedy and that is putting it mildly. During the course of the year three pioneering comedians have passed away: Rik Mayall, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. They have been influential in their respective comedy scenes as well as worldwide, and inspired a great many comedians that followed in their footsteps. Stand up, theatre, sketches, opera, television, film and even a little bit of music: they filled all of it with distinctive humour. There is no doubt that they are sorely mourned, but their body of work will solely bring forth laughter. Here, we commemorate this threesome with a small look at their oeuvres. Continue reading “The Comic Loss of 2014”

On Authors In Focus 1

“Authors in Focus 1” is a six-credit course on Oscar Wilde’s novel, plays, short stories, and mostly his mysterious personal life. Last week, the main reading was a selection of Wilde’s short stories. In class, whilst we were fervently discussing and analyzing the reasoning behind the choices made in the stories and how these choices may have been a reflection of Oscar Wilde’s personal life, I felt how the classmate sitting next to me grew more and more frustrated. At a certain point–I believe it was when The Selfish Giant was dubbed a pedophile and this was connected to the possible homoerotic encounters Wilde had with young men–my classmate held up his hand and asked something along the lines of “What if we’re reading too much into it?”

I’ve asked myself this question many times. As most of us English students (or any students of literature) have experienced, it happens on occasion that we will have to analyze or deconstruct a work that is close to us. A piece of writing that we feel ought to be taken for what it is, because it meant something to us at a specific time in our lives. Or maybe because we enjoy it so fully that taking apart and observing the reasons behind the enjoyment seems unnatural. I am surely not the only one who has refrained herself from picking her favorite Victorian novel for that final paper, just because I didn’t want to stop loving it.

This is not to suggest that analyzing narratives is a bad thing–otherwise I wouldn’t have studied English. No, to me, taking stories apart and uncovering as many elements as you can is definitely one of the most enjoyable activities of the Engelse Taal & Cultuur studies. In fact, there are many books that I have reread in which I read more, understand more and appreciate more. If it weren’t for Rudolph Glitz’s first few classes of the course then called “Literature in Theory”, I would probably have given my copy of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw away after writing my very first essay on it. Now, it’s proudly standing amongst Stranger in a Strange Land, Waiting for Godot, and a whole bunch of bandes dessinées that helped me shape myself to become who I am today.

However, the point raised by my classmate in my Oscar Wilde class (which is a fun and intriguing course, I recommend it to any English student) could not get out of my head for a few hours after class. How is it exactly that analysis counters enjoyment? What is it that triggers in us the feeling to protect certain works from being taken apart–when taking them apart could potentially enlighten us more? My answer for now is that books and stories are so strongly connected to memories that when we take them apart, we might forget the feeling we had a long time ago. Maybe someone ought to write an essay on this. Or maybe someone already has.

 

Ines

Header image taken from Wikipedia

Photography in Foam: Reinvestigating a Medium Undergoing Digitalization

[Photo Under Construction Article] Credit- Composition 008, 2014 C Kate Steciw

 

Under Construction: New Positions in American Photography
Foam, 17.09 – 10.12

When we stroll down the canals of the city centre of Amsterdam, more often than not we come across the most well-known definition of ‘photographing’: the single-lens reflex camera in the hands of tourists. Subjects are usually centered right in the middle of a viewfinder when the shutter button is pressed and nine out of ten times we do not even print the hundreds of photographs taken on our holidays. However, when taking a walk through Under Construction, Foam’s newest exhibition, many questions about photography techniques will arise. The process of printing, presentation on the walls of a museum, and the concept of which this new generation of photographers is playing with makes you think about what contemporary photography actually is.

In the exhibition Under Construction: New Positions in American Photography, Foam speaks of image-makers, visual artists, and images instead of the traditional terms photographers and photographs. Both the medium and its vocabulary are reevaluated and, maybe even more significant, reinvented. The photographic processes and images result in a fantastic exhibition that lends itself perfectly to an introduction to contemporary photography.

With a substantial amount of references to other techniques in the art world, TIME LightBox got it quite right when they stated that we can speak of “a new generation of artists, who are questioning the very nature of photography itself, and see no reason why a photograph can’t be self-referential while drawing from classical Greek sculpture, 1980’s abstraction, performance art, and the internet, all within the same frame” (Krystal Grow, editor). References to earlier trends in art history are well-represented in Daniel Gordon’s images of still life and portraits. Pears, bananas, flowers, and faces are rearranged by making three-dimensional paper sculptures, often still displaying the glue in the final two-dimensional images that he photographs afterwards.

In another part of the exhibition we see an image in a weirdly shaped frame (or a weirdly shaped image in a matching frame?), as if the other pieces of a larger puzzle have gone missing. It is titled Composition 008 (2014) and it is created by Kate Steciw. It is a mixture of manipulated photography, collage, and computer animation that provokes only one thought: “this is not photography”.

And maybe that’s true. Maybe we expect photography to be as simple as tourist photography. Clicking a shutter button, expecting the photograph to be ready to go, printed and shipped to a museum like Foam. It is not. Artists and photographers do not add artistic value to an image just by looking at the composition or making use of advanced digital techniques. The processes and concepts of images may be sometimes hard to understand. However, when conventions are being broken and room is being made for discussion, you might actually have the chance to witness a revolutionary exhibition in contemporary photography. Then, there is always the information in the exhibition leaflets and the museum’s gift shop…

 

ISA

 

Featured artists: Lucas Blalock, Joshua Citarella, Jessica Eaton, Daniel Gordon, Owen Kydd, Matt Lipps, Matthew Porter, Kate Steciw, and Sara VanDerBeek.

Header Image: Composition 008, 2014 by C. Kate Steciw

WB Happenings – Week 42/43

We can’t believe it’s been two weeks already, but here you go: the new edition of Writer’s Block Happenings! Check out what WB-approved activities are happening in Amsterdam during the upcoming weeks.  Continue reading “WB Happenings – Week 42/43”

Introduction to the Deep Dark World of Cyberpunk Fiction

cyberpunk by mjbauer

My academic year started on a rather chaotic note. Four days before the first semester was to start, I realised I hadn’t enrolled in any courses. Thankfully I ended up managing to enroll in whatever courses caught my eye (that is, in my 1-second glance of hurry-up-hysteria). Consequently, I found myself stranded in a classroom with a PowerPoint on in the background, displaying grey buildings, computer screens, and an overall immense amount of green little numbers in diagonal columns (you know, like the ones they have in The Matrix, which turns out to be my first and foremost point of reference when trying to say anything remotely intelligent about Science Fiction cyberpunk or whatever dystopian genre you find to your liking). Now, if you’re like me, naively trying to broaden your horizon but then finding yourself gob-smacked at all the talk of technology and cybernetics, with a face that can convey you have NO IDEA what is going on and would VERY MUCH like a PRECISE definition of WHAT THE HELL cyberpunk is… well, then you’re in the right place.

My parents have always encouraged me to read. It was the thing to do before bedtime: “only ten more minutes and then lights go out,” was a regular. At the age of eleven I had mastered the secret ‘under the duvet cover with a flashlight’ move. I like emotional books. Humorous ones occasionally. Science fiction was an utterly unknown genre to me. Not that the aforementioned qualities can’t be found in SF, the latter certainly can, but in the context of technological infrastructures and cyborgs I seem to not be able to appreciate these notions, because the whole thing has to be real for me. Well, all right then, “what is real,” you might ask.

Questions similar to “what is real?” come up in class, but they often seem hopelessly unsolvable to me. I mean: are we really going to delve into subjects like that? The notion of consciousness has also been quite a conversational topic, but its complexity mainly poses a really good excuse for me to drift off into the realms of Half-Awake and Half-Asleep. There, I think about the latest Siri Hustvedt book I just bought, plan on how to factor ‘me-time reading’ into ‘cyber-time’ reading, because yes, rather than the dystopian notion of technology taking over ones life, the reading of cyberpunk fiction has taken over mine.

After about three classes I finally managed to somewhat consciously follow what was going on. The reading was Burning Chrome, written by the grandfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson, and I had read the story, but apparently neglected to understand the part where the main characters were in cyberspace, This meant that they didn’t have bodies, which meant that the sentence “Bodiless, we flew through space” did, in fact, make sense. Eureka! I felt on a roll after this one, read back my notes from the first class and what did I find hidden within my illegible writing? The answer to your prayers: the definition we’ve all been waiting for. No, cyberpunk is not a Sex Pistols song recorded in space. Rather, it contains the word “punk” because it embodies everything describing countercultures, shifts in lifestyles and societal rules. The punk era consisted of putting diaper pins in ears rather than in babies’ diapers, so the function of pins here, was warped. The “cyber” aspect of course stems from “cyberspace”: an imitation of the real world consisting of information. This combination of punk and cyber makes for a highly dystopian genre causing much time and space confusion. It is up to you to choose whether you want to be confused in a realm of floating around in identity crises, organized information systems and despondent thoughts about humanity. But I think my chaotic mind calls for floating around in the here and now, casually reading a SF book here and there, but mostly enjoying the daylight outside which frequently permeates my light reading.

 

ISA

Header image by mjbaur on deviantart.