“Uitwaaien”: The art of Letting Go

In our hectic and busy lives, with small screens devouring our faces, we start losing our grip on what’s important. We get lost in deadlines, meetings, to-do-lists and that pile of unfolded laundry starts haunting our dreams. Being close to nature can always put things into perspective.

Walking on the coast of Terschelling (one of the Dutch islands at the North Sea), I found myself experiencing the real process of letting go: ik ben even uitgewaaid. “Uitwaaien” is a common activity in Holland: you walk and allow the wind to take all your troubles away. I must admit it wasn’t easy. Even for late October, the winds on the islands are very strong. If you’re not used to this, it can be hard to enjoy a walk while the wind is wailing.

How do you let go? Well, the key is to let your thoughts sink deep in the sand. Focus on one small little breath, one small little step, one single moment. Before you know it you are one thought away from letting go. Not keeping grudges or thinking of what should have happened or what is about to happen. Breath in and let go.

Not griping on anything and just enjoying the long sandy coast of the island. It slowly starts feeling like a blessing, a ritual almost, that makes you realize you needed this. To be next to the sea, to hear the breeze, to step on the wet sand and get in touch with what is. Becoming gradually calmer, more serene, laid-back, one with the wind that accompanies you in every step.

Walking on the long sandy beach, it almost looks fake; a vast, flat field of golden sand that changes color depending on the sun’s mood. The light is vibrant grey as if reflecting the blue mood of the sea. The coast is clear, literally, but some sea debris has washed up on land. Do you hear our souls screaming? Their restless sound is fading away. It is just a whisper now.

The wind takes everything away, it sweeps our feelings away. Our soft footprints on the wet sand don’t make a sound. If you listen closely, you will feel the silence the strong wind brings; you will hear the nature calling out your name, taking over, helping you release whatever you are still holding on to. The strong wind clears our heads and the golden sunlight shows us the path we should take, one step at a time.

 

Photographs: Nikon F75 (28-100mm). Kodak Gold 200, 35mm film. Terschelling Island, Friesland, the Netherlands. October 2019.

Terschelling Nature, NL 2019 (Lomo 800)

Locations:  Terschelling island, Friesland, the Netherlands. October 2019.

Nikon F75 (28-100mm). Lomography Color Negative 800, 35mm film.

Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen 2019

Locations:  Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen province, The Netherlands, May 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Portra Film 400, 35mm film.

The accidents, Leeuwarden 2014

This was the first film I ever used with an old Pentax I found in a secondhand shop. I would go on using that camera for at least 2 years. I am not sure what happened with this film, but my guess is that it wasn’t inserted properly in the beginning, resulting in some beautiful “accidents”. I was very disappointed with my first film photography attempt, however, later on, I came to love these photographs. They are truly unique and very poetic.

Locations: Vrijheidswijk and Saint Boniface church in Leeuwarden. The Netherlands, 2014.

Pentax P30, 35mm with Pentax-A 50mm F/2 SMC Lens. Kodak Gold film 200.

 

Spring Blossoms

Locations: Bijlmer, Amsterdam. The Netherlands, 2015.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Film 200, 35mm film.

 

Walking in Stadspark, Groningen, NL 2018

Stadspark, Groningen, NL. December 2018.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Earl Grey Lomography Film 200, 35mm film.

The Art in our lives

Art is present everywhere in our lives. Sometimes we notice it, sometimes we don’t. But what is the role of art in our society? Specifically, how has the role of art in society evolved throughout the years, what is good art and what role does a museum play in preserving, exhibiting and mostly communicating art to the public? These are some of the questions that were raised during the guest lecture hosted by the Dutch United Nations Student Association, also known as SIB. The main speaker of the evening was Andreas Blühm, the director of the Groninger Museum, who was more than willing to share his experience and insight on what the role of art in society is, or even better, what it should be.

SIB Groningen often organizes several lectures on matters that interest the city’s students. In one of the most recent lectures, on the 15th of October, the student association invited Andreas Blühm who introduced to a full house at the Club Kiwi in the Peperstraat the subject of art in society. His lecture lasted for an hour, however, the discussion afterwards was perhaps the best part of the whole evening. But let me get back to that later.

Andreas Blühm has been the director of the Groninger Museum since 2012, and before that, he served as a curator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. During his concise and informative lecture, he began with a historical view on what the role of art has been in society. Specifically, art made a first appearance as part of society when during the early 18th century Salons were introduced in France. They were the first places where art would be exhibited to the public on a massive scale. A public that didn’t belong to high society and didn’t have access to art before. And that was when the notion of museums appeared. From that point on, the role of museums became clearer. Dr Blühm explained very elaboratively that the role museums have taken in society expands from collecting and preserving artwork of cultural, religious and historical importance, to presenting those artworks to the public for education and enjoyment. The main challenge for museums remains, however, how to communicate art to the public.

Another big issue that was raised during the lecture, was the question of what happens to art when we take it out of the museum. Specifically, dr Blühm told us how last year the Groninger Museum placed the extremely valuable and iconic work of the American artist Jeff Koons, Christ and the Lamb, in a wall of the central mall Bijenkorf in Amsterdam. The initiative was inspired by the 100-year anniversary since Marcel Duchamp submitted to an exhibition his famous urinal, which he called Fountain, challenging in that way what counts as art. Koons’s artwork was placed in the Bijenkorf without informing the public, to discover whether such artwork would be noticed and appreciated once acquiring a non-artful function. As soon as a label was put next to the artwork, that was the defining moment people started realizing and recognizing its worth. The lesson? Art needs museums for it to be appreciated.

After an insightful lecture, the time came for the best part of the evening, the questions. As I mentioned before that was the most interesting and exciting part of the night. The discussion was heated with several questions form the students to which dr Blühm answered diplomatically, but with honesty too. It started with a question about the controversial role of the internet in how we perceive art. Dr Blühm answered that art is indeed more accessible online, only people still have the need to visit the original artworks. Another question dealt with what good and bad art is, and what if society likes art that professionals reject. Art is first and foremost subjective, said dr Blühm, answering the first question. He added saying that if an artwork is expensive, it doesn’t mean it is good, but if it stays expensive and popular, as in the case of Banksy, then we understand its worth. That brought to my mind how Banksy set his famous artwork Girl with Balloon to shred itself, during an auction two weeks ago, as soon as it was sold for more than £860,000. The artist renamed the work Love Is In The Bin and while making history, he also challenges traditional views on what makes an artwork valuable.

All in all, the lecture created an interesting discussion and offered food for thought around the role of art in society. Inevitably art is everywhere, every person can be art, can appreciate art and understand it. Art is after all human creation, and, as dr Blühm concluded, supporting it is very crucial for our society.

Photo: Looking at a Monet painting at the Albertina museum in Vienna, from the travel journal A Winter Weekend in Wien, 2017.

In November

People walk through

and hundreds of eyelashes

meet with mine.

I am a broken line

on the glossy pavement.

Tiny roofs talk to each other

explaining why silence

became so dominant.

Shoes squeeze under so much

ignorant weight.

And umbrellas are forgotten

at the doorsteps of living.

[nobody took the umbrellas in]

2014

 

(Photo: check full gallery at Leeuwarden Impressions. The Netherlands. November 2015. Pentax P30, 35mm film.)

 

May in Groningen, NL

Groningen, the Netherlands, May 2017.

Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

Leeuwarden Impressions

Pentax P30, 35mm film. Central Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, 2015.