This month – May

by

A little delayed, but still on the last day of May: the monthly round up!

According to my Goodreads I read half a book this month. I finished “The Self Care Project”, a good primer on self care for people who want to read more about it and also want to directly apply it to their lives, as the book contains practical self care exercises.

I also started reading Teju Cole’s “Known and Strange Things”, but I can’t say anything about it yet, as I am only on page 12.

Read – Online

One day, after I’ve finished up my pile of current “to be finished” projects, I’ll do a project where I’ll base all my choices on Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies (here’s an interview with Jarvis Cocker in which Eno explains more about it). I’m already looking forward to it.

Last month, I posted Junot Diaz own article about the sexual abuse he suffered in his childhood. Shortly after that, this article from the New York Times was published in which, following writer Zinzi Clemmons’ accusations that Junot Diaz non-consentually kissed her, the unfortunately widespread problem of sexual misconduct and abuse among male writers is discussed.

The Media Must Stop Taking ‘Incel’ Agitprop Seriously. I have nothing to add to that.

As I’ve written before, Interview Magazine played a huge role in my personal development. It saddens me to hear that it is closing.

Listened to – Music

Superfruit dropped an album last year, with a Beyoncé style visual album to boot.

Listened to – Podcasts

“I hate it but it love it”, a familiar feeling to many. This episode is about the movie Pretty in Pink.

Watched – Films and Documentaries

A Modern Man – violinist and model Charlie Siem seems to have it all, but still struggles with existential problems.

Watched – TV and Youtube

An interesting explanation of the musical structure of Africa by Toto. Not that I hate the song any less now.

A very short documentary on the making of the animatronics of the movie Isle of Dogs. Dream job, yes/yes?

I sent this trailer of the animation series Aggretsuko to my mother with the subject line “Somebody made a documentary about the days when I was still a secretary!”

I have seldom agreed with anything as much as with this review by Todd in the Shadows.

Miscellaneous awesomeness

The best news of the month: Esther Donkers, who was featured on this site this month with an interview, has picked up blogging again!

***

Next week it’s time for another opinion! See you on Wednesday!

“Mythen” exibition by Othilia Verdurmen

by

Last Friday I travelled to Deventer to see the “Mythen” (“Myth”) by Othilia Verdurmen. She is a visual artist whose work, in her own words,  “takes place at the interface of visual art and theatre”. Her works are often large, colourful and are shown with a light plan and a sound scape, making for a full sound and vision experience that takes the visitor along in the world she has created. The pictures on Featured Mag are usually in black and white, but for this exhibit, I’ve made an exeption.

First, I walked up a mountain to the Bergkerk (“Mountain Church”).

Yup, I’m in the right place!

Once inside, I first watched three short documentaries in which Othilia herself talks about her work: about what fascinates her, her work process, how she gets started, the themes she uses, how she selects her materials and how all of this ends up a complete work of art. In short:  she reads a lot, looks at a lot of different materials (also at building supply stores!) and at some point just starts making something, out of which the rest follows.

This is an extreme close up from her work “Penelope and Odysseus”: she used copper mesh (like I said, building supply store) to embroider one of the many suitors of Penelope. She explained the fact that she didn’t embroider all 100 of them by saying that it took her three days to embroider this one already, something anyone who’s ever embroidered, can understand.

This is a close up from one of her other works, “The Secret of the Ocean”. Looking at it from one side, it just looked like a shell, but from this side it’s a face(mask). The light shone on the materials gives this work the impression of being bioluminescent.

Another close up, which shows how she mixes materials like fabric, plastic and beads, and also shows how detailled and labor intensive her art is.

In the back: The Secret of the Ocean. In front: The Phoenix.

An overview of two of her works in the space. While it does not do the works justice, it does give an idea about the scale: yes, that is an actual church organ in the back. The Phoenix (actually, there’s two: a dead one in front and a living one in the back) is of course my favorite work. The creation of this piece took a long time due to an actual fire in her workshop, that destroyed the first, almost complete version of this work. She used the bird that “died” in the fire for this incarnation of this work, it’s the blue bird in the front.

I find it difficult to write more about this exhibit, as these are very clearly works that need to be experienced: the magnitude, the intricate details, the combination of materials, the light changes, the sound. I’d recommend anyone who is close(ish) to Deventer to just travel over and go see it. The exhibit is up until the 24 June 2018.2018.

Links:
Website Othilia Verdurmen (in English)

Note: Like all my posts in the “Get out of the house!” series, this activity was booked and paid for by me, after which I got stoked and decided to write about it all by myself. #nospon

***

Next week it’s time again for this month’s round up post! See you on Wednesday!

Interview with Esther

by

Who are you and why?

I am Esther Donkers and I was born in 1972 on the day Nixon was elected president. This fact thankfully has had no bearing on my life whatsoever, but it’s mentioned in my baby memory book, which also features the indispensable lock of my baby hair and the hospital bracelet made out of actual beads.

When I met you, you were a writer and a nurse, nowadays you work in education. When and why did you switch careers? Do you enjoy it? Was it something you always wanted, or was it something that you discovered during you life that you enjoyed?

It happened organically. I had a job developing teaching materials when a nursing teacher position became available. Since they needed somebody quickly, they asked me to fill that position. I ended up staying in that job for a year, teaching a group and also visiting them during their internships. I really enjoyed it. Since in The Netherlands it’s no longer allowed to teach without having the required paperwork, I thought long and hard and eventually decided to go back to school at 42 years old. I wasn’t the only one: my 40 classmates were all between 40 and 50 years old.

Like me, you went back to school as an adult. How did you reach that decision? How did your environment respond to you going back to school and how did that make you feel? How was your study experience? Was it what you thought it would be?

I thought about it for a long time, because of my age, the cost, the time investment. The first college I approached, didn’t want to give me any dispensations, but the school I eventually ended up going to thankfully did. My environment responded very positively to my decision, my family has been very supportive. It helps that we have always divided family tasks and that my husband is used to run the household by himself. He almost always cooks anyway, if busy times are ahead he even cooks in advance. My studies turned out to not be hard, but very time consuming. I don’t want to elicit pity, but my studies, combined with working as a teacher (and thus a lot of “homework”), has taken up all my weekends in the last 2,5 years. I decided to go for a job close to home, as I wouldn’t be able to keep up working in the Randstad (about 150 km/94 miles from where Esther lives) while also studying in Leeuwarden (a city about 90 km/55 miles from where she lives).

Because of this job change and because of books and other study costs, our family income was reduced by 700 euros (around 860 US dollars) a month. Even when I then got a job as a teacher this didn’t change much: it’s not the best paid career.

All in all, we have had to make some pretty big sacrifices, and I’ve sometimes berated my 18-year-old self for not having finished my studies at that age – all my careers (nurse, journalist and writer) were started at an older age.

I like teaching a lot, but it’s also very hard. The students, teenagers at MBO level (senior vocational education – LP) are not always the easiest group to instruct, and a lot of necessary conditions for teaching aren’t met. Like with nursing it’s all about those magical moments, when you manage to really teach somebody something, a fun class, having a good interaction with a student.

On Instagram you regularly post about rowing, more specifically longboat rowing. How did your discover this sport and what do you like about it so much? What has longboat rowing added to your life?

A friend of mine has been rowing in longboats for 20 years and thought it might be something I’d enjoy. I already had experience with “regular” rowing from the age of 16 on, so I decided to try this out. I liked it so much that I joined the longboat rowing club in Hattem, and I’ve been rowing with them for three seasons now. This sport has brought me so much: it has taught me that my body (1.90m/6’3”) isn’t graceless, but strong. It has really changed the way I view my body. The being outside on the water, the huge physical effort: it empties my head and I feel completely free in my body and mind.

What would you still like to accomplish in life?

That my son becomes an adult who can choose to live his life the way he wants to. I would also like to teach in a country that is less well off than The Netherlands. I would like to finish the two manuscripts I have lying around and perhaps see them being published, although I am not holding my breath. I would like to study script writing. And I would like to go on beautiful and perhaps also useful journeys with our son.

(Photo credit: Esther Donkers)

Links:

Instagram

***

Next week it’s time for another “Get out of the house!” See you all on Wednesday!