CODE’s ‘edit and reconstruct’ issue

CODE21LR-379x469The spring/summer 2012 issue of CODE magazine has been out for a while.

Besides managing as managing editor, I wrote a travel feature about grey – but mighty and magical – Kaliningrad. This city-formerly-known-as-Königsberg is now a dislocated blob of Russia in the heart of the EU, and offers crash courses in Teutonic Knights, WWII, the Cold War and how to build arts scenes out of freaking nothing. It’s also got killer beaches and drunken pine trees.

I also had the honour of interviewing Magnum Force of Street Style (and cover boy) Nick Wooster, as well as the Dutch artist/designer Joep van Lieshout. As founder of Atelier van Lieshout, Joep has brought the world fully-realised ‘Free States’, slave camps and rectum bars. Now he’s just come out with a line of unisex handbags. So I asked him if he was undermining his past work, playing with people’s minds or just being hilarious – he definitely proved to be hilarious. He also had interesting things to say about order vs. chaos.

This issue also has features from two of my favourite writers: Sarah Gehrke (on Noses) and Floris Dogterom (on doodle tattoos). And the design is by the inspired lads of Het Echte Werk. So check, check, check it out. It’s now available at the world’s better mag shops – including Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum in Amsterdam.

Read about CODE’s ‘2012 Survival Kit’ issue here.

Posted: June 4, 2012 at 11:54 am.

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Heading to Berlin…

























Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:26 am.

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CODE’s ’2012 Survival Kit’

CODE_20_COVERRecently I acted as managing editor for the fall/winter issue of a fashion magazine. Yes, I entered the world of style.

[I’ll pause for effect...]

Of course this gig should come as no surprise to those who already know that I get my savvy selection of seasonal clothes here and my 1960s welfare-recipient glasses here. But for some reason whenever I mention this whole ‘Steve in fashion land’ concept, friends generally break down into hysterical laughter. Why do they do that? During the whole process, there were really only a few moments of complete Mr Bean-like slapstick.

But anyway, the periodical is CODE (‘documenting style’), and the issue’s theme is an enticing one: ‘2012 Survival Kit’. It poses the question ‘What would you design for a hypothetical toolbox meant to help you survive the apocalypse?’ It’s also an international creative call to artists, architects and designers of all stripes to come up with their own ultimate survival products. The results of this ‘co-creation’ will be touring the world as an exhibition through 2012 – from Amsterdam to Kobe, Japan. You can find more information about the project and how to get involved here.

The issue’s main features focus on the survival tactics of sideshow circus freaks, new agers, off-grid pioneers, emerging tech gurus, urban warfare clothing designers and the brave and delightfully eccentric characters who fish off the decaying piers of Brooklyn.

CODE’s ‘Survival Kit 2012’ magazine is distributed worldwide (check out this week’s window display at Athenaeum in Amsterdam). 

See you in the hills! Looking sharp! And sustainable!

Posted: October 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm.

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Reed van Bee

Round N Round from Reed Van Bee on Vimeo.

Check out the work of my cherished pal and ex-colleague Reed van Brunschot. She makes wacky videos. Not only did she once cast me (after years of being typecast as a newsman or peckerhead) as the green colour bar, but she also recently cast dog Billy (see above) for whom I act as secondary caregiver. Thanks Reed, for letting both a cad and a canine live out their dreams and stretch out their repetoire.

Posted: October 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm.

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Cabbages, Magic Windmills and Plastic Surgery


















The above painting The Baker of Eeklo hangs in the kitchen of Muiderslot castle just outside Amsterdam. It was painted in the second half of the 16th century by two rather obscure artists, Cornelis van Dalem and Jan van Wechelen. The depiction of cabbage-heads can probably only be truly understood by a people who grew up on medieval tales of magic windmills grinding up old people and pumping them out all young and sprightly again. In this particular story, bakers are slicing the heads off clients, adding special flours and oils, and re-baking their faces to specification. A wonder cabbage (a symbol for an empty head) was placed on the neck to keep the body fresh and viable while it waited for its ‘whole new look’. Of course accidents did happen. But these mishaps helped to account for such personality types as the ‘half-baked’, the ‘hothead’, and the plain old freak ‘misfiring’.

Looking through the Dutch tabloids of today, it’s clear that these same descriptions can still apply to the more contemporary products of Dr Plastinstein. And coincidentally (or not), most of Hollandwood’s glitterati who take advantage of rejuvenation technologies live within 10 kilometers of this painting. So not only is the story behind this painting alive and well, it has also stayed close to home. And certainly with this mythic background of rejuvenating windmills and ovens, it’s easier to accept the fact that the Dutch exceed even the Americans in their ardor for plastic surgery. Perhaps this shouldn’t be so surprising, given that the Netherlands used to be on the cutting-edge of penis extensions. (Currently this expertise belongs to certain non-metric countries — weenie enhancement being a specialty, one supposes, about which people want to hear about inches, not centimeters. But that’s just a theory.)

So what’s my, um, point? Maybe the Middle Ages were not so ‘other’ after all…

Posted: September 21, 2010 at 8:04 am.

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On Clowns, Ceramics and Aging























Lately a couple things have been making me feel old: the skyrocketing age of my friends’ children and witnessing the completion of urban renewal projects. (I noticed during Sail 2010 that Amsterdam’s Eastern docklands are officially scrubbed clean and shiny — not a squatter left in sight — and now finally resemble the maquettes I remember from a decade or two ago.

Now I have a new thing that makes me feel old: successful musician friends re-launching as painters. Richard Cameron’s portraits are being exhibited at the Chiellerie until 9 September. Check them out. Even though Richard, of Arling & Cameron fame, just started painting a year ago, he’s certainly not just clowning about. In fact, Chiellerie’s Chiel was again proven absolutely correct: after he predicted the rise of ceramics couple of years ago, Chiel’s now putting all his money on clowns breaking through huge this year.

But I wonder: do clowns ever really go out of style? It’s certainly hard to imagine when looking at Richard’s portrait of the enigmatic Malle Domoor (above).

Posted: September 15, 2010 at 10:12 am.

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Unfold Amsterdam hits the streets

Unfold_Vol01_01_COVERUnfold Amsterdam has officially hit the streets. Every two weeks, Amsterdammers will be able to pick up this free English-language poster/mag highlighting the work of local artists/designers and covering the best of what’s going down around town. Hopefully it will fill the gap left since the demise of alternative weekly Amsterdam Weekly. In fact, Unfold Amsterdam arises from the luminous efforts of some of the more luminary ex-Weekly staff and freelancers. So I dig it indeed. Especially this edition’s poster by Simon Wald-Lasowski. So check, check, check it out — or at least put your finger on the pulse by checking regularly at their sweet-looking website.

Also keep your eyes out for the Unfold special edition covering the mighty Klik Amsterdam animation festival coming up on 15-19 September.

Posted: September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am.

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The Art Pie that is Kunstvlaai

kunstvlaaiThis year sees the return of  the city’s edgy arts market and festival Kunstvlaai/Artpie which runs until this Sunday 23 May at the Westergasfabriek. The bi-annual Kunstvlaai was formulated as the evil twisted twin of the commercial art fair Kunstrai  (who in their mediocrity decided to rebrand as Art Amsterdam  so they might sound more like  the ever-more-hip Art Rotterdam). As such, Kunstvlaai gives space to hundreds of decidedly less middle-of-the-road artists, groups and galleries. It’s a happy chaos complete with a 6-meter tall  pink mouse and pentagrams made of homebrewed beer. Check it out while you can…

Meanwhile later this month,  between 28 and 30 May, another new anti-Art Amsterdam manifestation  kicks off  as  a few  of the city’s  more interesting  local galleries come together to form Minimarket  in an old canalhouse.

Posted: May 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm.

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Left Hobbies















A great campaign: ‘Linkse Hobbies’.

A while ago the Dutch populist politician and amateur film-maker Geert Wilders stated: ‘The cabinet must start cutting deeply into all those leftist hobbies that are just wasting billions on the European Union, development aid, subsidies for the environment, art and housing, citizenship courses and all the rest of it. ’

So a group started to wonder what the Netherlands would look like if all these ‘hobbies of the Left’ would disappear… Order your stickers at Linkse Hobby and start marking! And don’t forget to upload a photo! The above picture features the work of inspired artist Serge Verheugen. Don’t disappear Serge! Don’t disappear!

Posted: April 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm.

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The first photographs of Amsterdam, 1845-1875
















The City Archives have another great exhibition running until June. It features  the earliest examples of street photography in Amsterdam. This is a picture of photographer Jacob Olie’s family in front of their house  at Zandhoek 10 in the painfully scenic Westerlijke Eilanden. The  children and the dog obviously did not have the patience to sit still and are therefore immortalised as ghosts. This street remains pretty much unchanged to this day. But back  in the Golden Age days, this  was where people came to pick up  sand (zand)  whenever their property started to sink. It is said that many a riot occurred here during sand shortages. I guess people get panicky whenever their homes threaten to  return to the bog from whence it came.   Anyway you can download a tour along the settings of these photographs here.

Posted: April 12, 2010 at 8:37 am.

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