On this last day of 2018 I’m reflecting on my month of December. From a brief visit into David Lynch’s artistic world to my latest film recommendations: read all about it here in my final recap of the year!
Christmas break in the Netherlands
As I’m writing this I’m recuperating from a fun-packed week back in the Netherlands. Besides three Christmas meals and the annual Christmas drinks gathering with friends, hubby and I also made some time to visit a number of amazing exhibitions. In Kunsthal Rotterdam we saw the engaging show ACTION <> REACTION about 100 years of kinetic art. (see cover photo)
Inside David Lynch’s house
At the other side of the country, we visited There’s someone in my house at Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, featuring artworks by David Lynch. I’ve seen most of his films and also of course all of Twin Peaks, but didn’t know much about his artworks. Being able to see such a comprehensive show of his drawings, paintings and other curious works was one of the highlights of my recent trip to the Netherlands.
Jan Švankmajer: the master of stop-animation films and creator of disturbed worlds
A few hours before we stepped on the plane to return to the UK, we visited EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam for yet another one of their fantastic retrospectives. Their current show is on the influential Czech film-maker Jan Švankmajer, called The Alchemical Wedding. Previous shows I’ve seen at EYE were about American film director David Cronenberg, Italian filmmaker Michelango Antonioni, Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller and American artists Brothers Quay. I always tell people that even if you’re not interested in exhibitions or cinema, you should visit EYE Filmmuseum even if it were just to admire the curious architecture or have a cup of coffee in the charming café right by the water.
In December I wrote the following blog posts
- The Dutch Girl Tales #9: Brexitstress: in this month’s Dutch-language post I shared my personal anxiety caused by the nearing Brexit.
- 3 Street Art Bloggers You Should Follow: if you’re interested in street art and want to read high-quality interviews and news articles, then I recommend following these three great street art bloggers!
- Cultural Christmas Gift Ideas: find out the best cultural memberships to join (all year round, not just for Christmas) in the UK or the Netherlands.
- On my Watch List: a(n) almost complete overview of the films and series I watched in 2018, including my personal Top 10. When I wrote the article I had watched 2018 films and series in total…
- How to Plan Your Perfect Weekend in London: Day 1 (+free map): on my travel blog Done That Been There I’m sharing great insider tips to help first-time visitors plan their perfect weekend in London.
Films and series to watch
As hubby and I are about to start our annual New Year’s 2-day film marathon, let’s have a look at what films and series I’ve watched this last month.
New in the cinema / on Netflix
Meh, not that great
Santa Claus <> Sinterklaas
We all know that we get our Christmas presents from generous and jolly Santa, but did you know that the famous Santa Claus figure was originally introduced in America by Dutch colonists? They brought the tradition of ‘Sinter klaas’ (nowadays called ‘Sinterklaas’ in the Netherlands) to the new country with them where his name eventually evolved into Santa Claus. Many European countries, including the Netherlands, still celebrate the nameday of Saint Nicholas early December. You can learn all about Santa’s elder brother in the article I wrote about him here: Sinterklaas: About a Saint and a Castrated Rooster.
More art highlights
Looking back at the photos I took this month, December was especially filled with art. I went to see nine exhibitions in total, ranging from old black and white documentary photographs to contemporary video installations.
Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock
The month started with a visit to the Royal Academy on 1 December to visit Oceania. While that particular exhibition might be closed already, you can still see this Cornelia Parker installation in the courtyard. The house (which is just a facade actually) is a replica of the famous Bates motel from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It is believed that Hitchcock in turn was inspired by the Edward Hopper painting House by the railroad.
Black and white documentary photography
If you’ve read my previous post I See the World in Black and White, you already know I’m fascinated with black and white photography. Considering my other favourite genres are street and documentary photography the exhibition Roman Vishniac Rediscovered at the Photographers’ Gallery was the ultimate show for me as it combined all these genres.
Roman Vishniac was an Russian born American born photographer who is best known for his photographic records of Jewish life in Eastern Europe between the two World Wars. It’s fascinating (and sickening) to see how Vishniac managed to document how Jews slowly lost their basic rights under Nazi rule. What struck me most of this show was his photographic records of the arrival of Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors in America in the aftermath of the war. I don’t think I had ever seen images or learned much about the lives of European Jews who immigrated to America to build up their new lives there.
How rituals and traditions from the Pacific made their appearance in London
The comprehensive show Oceania at the Royal Academy highlighted the art and culture of the indigenous people of Oceania. This exhibition, which closed early December’ marked the 250-year anniversary of Captain James Cook‘s first voyage to the Pacific. (This was by the way almost 200 years after the Dutch first explored this distant destination.)
Having had visited New Zealand earlier this year and learned more about Maōri culture, I felt more personally engaged with the exhibition. I was quite surprised to see someone had spilled sugar in front of a statue and that no one had cleaned it up. And I also couldn’t work out why there were some bundles of leaves lying around in odd places. A security guard who overheard hubby and I talking about this, he explained to us visitors had left them behind out of respect. He also shared his very special experience at the gallery the week before with us. He had noticed a group of women wearing the most extraordinary headpieces come in to visit the show. Then, entirely out of the blue, they started chanting and praying. It was a very impressive and humbling experience he told us and I wish I had been there to witness it.
And the rest:
- Robert Rauschenberg – Spreads 1975-83 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London (until 26 January 2019)
- Gordon Matta-Clark – Works 1970-1978 at David Zwirner gallery, London (closed 20 December 2018)
- Strange Days, memories of the Future at Strand X, London (closed 9 December 2018)
- Krzysztof Gil – Welcome to the Country where the Gypsy Has Been Hunted at l’étrangère, London (until 5 January 2019)
Now it’s time to get the DVDs and snacks out and get comfy on the sofa with hubby for our movie marathon.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2019!
I’m curious to know what you’ve been up to this last month so please share your stories in a comment below, thanks!