For Smile In Your Face I have selected seven artists and designers from the disciplines, where I find inspiration: architecture, photography and design. Photography is my greatest passion: I work at the editorial office of Foam Magazine and I collect photographs and photo books. For my work at Foam Magazine I see a lot of work of photographers. Still, I noticed when putting together this list, photography has a limited effect on me. More often the documentaries and city buildings are the things that really influence me and give me new insights, and this I use in my work. So in this selection you can find a mix of everything.
Now that I see the selection in front of me, the question rises, “Are there any similarities in the choices for these different people?” It strikes me that I often use the word ‘concept’. In many of the works I’ve chosen, the conceptual approach is of great importance. But a good concept is never enough. In almost every piece, the concept is combined with a strong image or visual aesthetics. That’s the first layer of the work, and has to come across directely. Also the connection between the work and the world is key. L’art pour l’art is not for me. I like art and design that’s socially engaged without being soft.
The list could have been much longer. But these seven represent very well the things I love.
“Can we still call this photography?” asked the editors of Foam Magazine, when the portfolio of Sam Falls turned up in the selection of this years’ Talent Issue. It inspired us immediately; this work really pops out! We are looking for cutting edge work that explores the boundaries of the medium. Falls himself says: “The actual engagement of the artist with the object that’s shared is a friendly and vulnerable gesture, while a photograph is cold; if it holds anything vulnerable it is in the subject not the object. When you look at failure present in the different mediums, the failure addressed in painting and sculpture is that of the artist, while photography usually addresses the failure of process and material. That’s why I do enjoy the merging, because you can cover issues of the artist, process, and material.”
Chris Engman is one of the photographers in Foam Magazine Talent in 2010. Selecting talents for the #/Talent Issue of Foam Magazine is always a fantastic journey in encountering new photography. Engman stood out that year because of his strong conceptual images. He manipulated reality in a subtle yet disordered way. It is never deceptive, the images remain serious. Chris Engman about his work: “We often say, photographs capture time. But to capture something is not to understand it because in the act of capture the thing is changed. My recent work aims at a photography that can speak to the passage of time closer to how it is actually experienced.”
I first saw the work of Linus Bill two years ago in the photography museum Foam. Bill had been offered an exhibition in 3H, the space in the attic meant for young talent. Linus Bill thought this was very disappointing and came up with a skilful concept: The Greatest Hits Vol. 1., a big overview exhibition of his work in al the rooms of the museum – but then in miniature. He placed a model of his work in the attic. This way, he could show his whole oeuvre. The power of Linus’ work can be seen on his website as well; Linus Bill and the Internet, a visual feast!
DAT Drawing Apart Together
(Claudie de Cleen, Tammo Schuringa, Corinne Bonsma)
Drawings are the latest rage. More and more exhibitions arise in which drawings are the main subject. Last winter the drawing show, A Perfect Day, took place in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, an initiative of illustrator Paul Faassen, amongst others. There where many great drawings on show. And it was there, where I first saw the work of DAT, Drawing Apart Together: an unique collaboration of Claudie de Cleen, Tammo Schuringa and Corinne Bonsma. Together, they make drawings: one starts and sends it to the other. The second continues and sends it back. That way the most beautiful drawings are made with the talent of three artists.
Ronald Rietveld is the winner of the Rotterdam Design Award 2011, and for a reason. Almost all of the projects of Rietveld Landscape, the agency of Rietveld, are good. Great in concept and really well executed. A few years ago our, agency Vandejong asked Rietveld to help develop a floating city as part of the Water Republic, an exposition in the region of Amsterdam, with the theme of water. During this time Rietveld demonstrated his ability to connect the great challenges of our time to the most fantastic solutions. The highlight of his work until now is: Vacant NL, for which Rietveld won the Rotterdam Design Award. The jury rapport states; “Vacant NL is a political manifest with a distinct format and a clear aesthetics. The analogue manifestation of something very abstract like a space, physically clarifies a big problem in a small country like The Netherlands. That much vacancy in a country with so little space, is shocking. Especially if you take in account the cultural-historic value of these unused buildings. Vacant NL is therefore an ‘enrichment tool’ for our society. It’s insightful, comprehensible and humane, a strong example for the rest of the world.”
BAS VAN TOL
Totally different, but also a favourite of mine, is designer Bas van Tol, who together with his wife Christiane Müller runs the design agency MüllerVanTol. At the moment Bas is designing the entire interior of Unseen, the new international Photography fair that Vandejong is organizing in 2012, together with Foam and Platform A. To me, Bas is an example of a real designer: very precise and extremely contextual, without losing sight of the aesthetics. One of his masterpieces is the design for Restaurant As in Amsterdam-Zuid. Due to the lack of space, the idea came up to put the kitchen outside, in an extra building, with a South-European allure. It turned out to be the right choice: when you go to lunch at As on a beautiful day, you find yourself somewhere outside The Netherlands. The monumental gate surrounding the terrace serves as a vertical vegetable garden. It gives an intimate feel to the place.
Kalle Mattsson (double l, double t, double s) is the type of designer who shows quality with the tiny details. Kalle is a virtuoso! When he was a designer at Vandejong (2010-2011), I immediately recognized his unparalleled talent. Like many other designers who graduated from the Rietveld Academy, Kalle works very conceptually and autonomously. But the difference between him and his fellow classmates is that Kalle also is a craftsman, who masters all the aspects of designing. Kalle designs with the ease of a painter. You can see that specifically in his collages and posters, which he makes as his uncommissioned work. But also the work he did for Foam’s What’s Next, is characterized by a great deal of freedom. Since the beginning of this year, Kalle works together with Amber van den Eeden.