Project in The Dominican Republic

In February I had the pleasure of collaborating in a project to paint 5 murals in the Dutch embassy of the Dominican Republic. I, a student of the Instituto Buena Bista (IBB), was selected to collaborate with my mentors and artists, Tirzo Martha, David Bade, and Johanna Franco Zapata.

The project consisted of the four of us painting five murals in one week at the Dutch embassy.

At first I didn’t know how to react, because I haven’t been out of Curaçao in the last 8 years. But I made up my mind and gladly accepted to be part of the project. I was really amazed by the Santo Domingo, because the idea that I had of it was completely different than what it actually is. I expected a very bad environmental place with criminality going on all the time to some extend, but the reality was completely different. It was very peaceful like in Curaçao except there are more people and activities. What impressed me the most was the amount of monuments and old ruins that I saw. They were all very beautiful and interesting to look at for their composition. I can’t compare the Dominican Republic to my own because Curaçao is all I know.     

It all started with us discussing the sketches we had send before we went to the Dominican Republic. Each of us started on our own wall. I am known to be a bit slow while painting. The reason of this is because I like to take my time. I believe each moment in the process is valuable to gain experience. I usually don’t work fast, because it’s not exiting for me. After we were more or less done with our part of the mural on the wall we would switch walls and add our own ideas/sketches to it. We kept doing this until everyone was pleased with the end result. While I was working on my part of the mural I started to see how I wanted to connect with the other paintings painted by my mentors.

I started to add my own ideas to David Bade’s ‘Romantic Baseball Pitcher’  mural and then on Tirzo Martha’s ‘Water Below The Pitcher’ painting. When I was  painting on those murals one of my mentors told me to think about the horizon of the pitcher. That is when I started to think about the baseball field and wanted to give the pitcher a field just like the players play on the baseball field.

When I painted the field I started with players on top of pillars as a monumental reference of the important figures in the Dominican Republic.  What I think about the baseball players of this country is that they are what we know the most, about the Dominican Republic, in Curaçao. On the field I made lines with tape and fill in with the colors blue and green. Blue represents the sky and green the grass. Of course I couldn’t leave the tapes on the mural so I decided to paint them instead.

Lastly I started on the mural of Johanna Franco Zapata’s ‘Boat On Cubes’. I started of by researching about every and any thing the Dutch had invented along the years. The one invention that I found that intrigued me and that fitted the composition that I wanted to apply to the boat was the fire hose that they invented in 1673.

I use it to put in the boat together with the Arawak indians that were aborigines to the country called Hispañola (before it was divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic) before the Spanish came and colonize the land. Each indian has a feather that represents the land and together they have the fire hose in their hands like a fireman would.

Lastly I painted Flags of Curaçao and St Maarten. I also wanted to put a few words in Papiamento (language spoken in Curaçao). Those words were ‘Yu di tera’ (Child of the land) because it was, us, from Curaçao who painted the walls and ‘Yu di tera’ is how we often call ourselves ‘Yu di Kòrsou’ (Child of Curaçao). I am not originally from Curaçao but I was raised there. Because of this I also call my self a ‘Yu di Tera’.

In the mean time I had the chance to know the Dominican Republic and it an eye opening experience. I am not used to getting so many references that I can use in my works. The  buildings, people, culture, monuments and the museum of modern art of the Dominican Republic helped me see more of the world, know more about the art world and the influence it has in society. The museum was very impacting to me as it was the first museum I have visited other than the one’s in Curacao. Seeing the artworks personally motivated me to break through the limitations that I often put on my self just to have everything in control. I feel that I want to liberate myself from restrictions and let go more within my work. I also want to be more aware of why I want to do what I want to do as an art student and to not have any doubt or fear of what can come along the way. Seeing so many works done by artist in the modern art generation is very strange, because seeing these works made me see the fight against the traditional academic ways of the western world.

Visiting the art schools  in the Dominican Republic made me see how much freedom we receive in IBB and also how great it is for us. The first art schools  we visited was , Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales. It was like the school is designed to let you think and do what they want you to think, while the self expression is left out. The last art school, La Escuela de Diseño Altos de Chavón, we visited was like a resort. It was nice and all but has a similar approach even though there’s more freedom than the first one we visited.

All of this was a great experience. I found out more about myself and about the world we live in. I want to use what I have learned to help myself become more aware and devoted to what I want to do. For now I want to keep learning about art and its influence. If possible I want to use what I have learned to bring forth my visions and criticism of our world.

Rots in brand

Rots in brand is a collection of works reflecting on the multilayered identity and condition of the childs of Curaçao. The spirit of the island is characterized by a coming and going of multitudes and its existence within the thoughts, art and hearts of its people, especially the ones that live elsewhere.

In a room fused with incense, where the heart was located, stood a metal cabinet containing personal tools and recognizable objects, a cardboard box nurturing an aloe plant, once protecting the entrance. I placed five soups containing items that came together to marinate with meaning.

The installations are self-portraits, which explore my own profound sense of belonging to the island, branded by history, and our complex, contradictory and collective identity. This exploration con sists of examining concepts like gender, social class, race, religion and politics by sifting through my own personal history. How can one’s own history, reflect the social & political conditions of a society, and the spirit of our current times?

All, viewed through a critical lense; and teaching myself how to see. Who is the she? Which lense is usually favoured? By whom?

Set in motion, infinitely in progress; thankfully.

The anatomy of the research is unstructured, visual, philosophical, and refuses to use a specific, methodological frame defined by others. Randomness becomes the only way of avoiding the strait jacket. There is no single, overpowering research question, for I was in search of rhizomes. As a result, countless topics are touched up and it is exactly this, the acceptance of multiple perspectives and approaches to one idea, that is crucial in shaping the work.

*white noise*
Interior, daylight, fade in. please stop feeling sorry for yourself! hey dushi

dushiiiiiii…….! Schreeuw ik tegen haar. Zij wist niet hoe zij moest reageren. Kort haar, lange broek & shirt, geen make up. Jij meisje? Waarom loop je als man? Is ze mariku? Ik weet wat ze doen. dode honden voor een natte. beneden waters.

Ik was arm, maar deed alsof. En toen leerde ik armoede kennen. wat is er mis met mij > Mijn haar is nu geblondeerd met goedkoop bleach van de drogist, but I haven’t done my roots. Ik heb littekens van frustratie momenten met puisten op mijn gezicht. Ik draag soms kleding die net niet mijn size is. geen BH’s. Ik ben rijk. Rijk aan onder andere zuurstof, water en liefde. Ik kan de regen toch niet kopen? Al dat poëtische. Zoals de ruimte in mijn neus. die ook wel vergroot kan worden door naaldjes. Want Wij Weten dat wij allemaal stabiliteit en veiligheid willen.

Het blijft grappig. De duurste batterijen werken niet altijd het beste, maar zijn vaak wel meest verkocht. dura…..dat zei juff Rbol in de 3rde en weer in de 6de. Splinternieuwe telefoons om up-to-date te blijven met al de tragedie in de wereld. Luciferdoosjes verkopen tot je rijk wordt. Ik leerde van kaas en astronauten, witte handschoenen en witte sokken. Op ̶d̶e̶ het vuur geblaast. en nu?

Back to the roots. Unbleached.

What does it mean to find one’s roots? how to dig? intact.
Voor mij begint het bij 444 km kwadraat. gevonden in een aangespoelde autoband.
Men heeft het over diaspora. men is? precies? gedwongen migratie. normale migratie. Je wilt toch niet terug? The last specks of dirt you brought along with your shoe, have now merged with the new . . Het idee wordt gevoed. Ontvoet. We kunnen spreken over wereldkampioenschap vieren in de kerk. We worden bewust en enlightened achter de computer. XY-chromosoom. De hoogtepunt van mijn leven zit vastgelegd in een usb.

How others identify me, I cannot change. How A sees B.
Reduced to an image infused with signifiers to be “cracked” by person A. textbook stuff. Person A sees the sunglasses on my face, this mental image travels down his archive of memories regarding sunglasses & people wearing them, and me; idea pops up. It may start with perception, but there are more organs in the body.

Voordat Rotterdam een nieuwe thuis werd, dacht ik dat kapsalon een plek was om je haar te knippen. Wij fietsten alleen in de parkeerplaats. Hier kon je gluren bij de buren…..
Ok, I always use the same old metaphor: we all see the world through a special pair of glasses; the thickness and tint of the lense formed by our individual experiences (love, lack of…) and collective experiences (like culture, nationality). The lense shapes the way we see our reality. distorts.

In order to identify this distortion, we must look into a mirror, therefore revealing the frame and the lense. But which lense is favored..??


Word wakker en verlaat de kussenlava. Aan de rand van het kijkveld. and what about experience? Hersenen vooruit! Diploria strigosa boven water. Zaad e̶r̶o̶p̶, erin. Rationality justified.

Once someone with thick eyebrows, and a thin, red scratch on the cheek asked her about her heritage. She proceeded to explain and as she reached his jewish ancestry, she was interrupted by comments about the horrors surrounding historical facts. How was this information acquired? Which book? Who tells the story? Why?

Who gives a fuck? I give a fuck. I’m not them, you are not them, I’m me and you’re you. They lived there now, in a story. With real implications, yes. I can see the buildings and the street names. The gated communities and the shitholes.
She refused to carry the loads of her ancestors leading her into guilt, victimhood. Tell me everything! Because my reality is actually in the room next door.

Vuile welkom mat. Waar ik vandaan kom kan ik niet veranderen. Mijn geslacht, mijn achternaam, mijn moeder, mijn vader die ik eens in de 5 jaar ziet ook niet. Ik kan mijn hoofd kaal scheren en mijn oude paspoort als talisman dragen, daar heb ik controle over. Ik begreep dat als ik kan zien, dat ik ook gezien kan worden.

Maar het gaat niet altijd over controle; niet de mijne, in ieder geval. I can’t change my deep and sincere love for her, my dushi. Maar hoe kun je iemand op zijn plaats houden? Die moet daar en die moet hier. Hoe ziet die plaats eruit? Gebeurt dit stiekem? Stiekem, ben ik een little big detective. Conspiracy practicist. I detect the language, ik ken je man. Ik ben bijna een spook, geen antilleanness te zien op mij. Dat werd ik verteld. Kom ik aan in Nederland

en ben ik alles behalve curacaoenaar. Ik word een spion in de tram die mee luistert naar gesprekken.

Ik spreek de hele tijd over ik, maar ik ben ook jij. Ik ben onzeker, maar Ik ben ook Curaçao. ik ben de zee die ons omhelst, maar ook het groene, troebel water in de grachten van Rotterdam. Ik ben de ketting van de fiets die net los komt. Ik ben de piercing in mijn neus, ik ben de ringen die ik draag om zogenaamd mijzelf te uiten. Ik ben de wens voor liefde. Skin deep.

MANMADE: Born in Curaçao in 1993. Female. Name: Roxette. hereditary surname: Capriles. Seru kokori, landskind. Socially reformed. Daar zijn er 60 nationaliteiten. 6 talen gesproken. Mix mix. W – I – C. What Is Colonialism? Foto’s van bloed? Ruik jij bloed? Further south or far east. Fort Masterdam has peeping holes that aren’t for peeping. Batterij. Spiritu. De vloer van de synagoge is bedekt met zand en museum Kura Hulanda = letterlijk Nederlandse tuin. roots? Roet? Hoofdletters vind ik niks. Mijn naam ziet er mooier uit zonder. roxette capriles. Autocorrect

GENERATION….Capital without colonial past. Past connects, but also divides. Past leaves burn wounds. Treat that shit with Awa Maravilla, cry a bit and move on.
In afrika hangen de maskers niet aan de muur. Boven en beneden winden verbonden door kultuur, geen economisch of politieke samenwerking. Creole capitalism. Toerisme. Isme. Ismes. Liefde werd sedimentair. Misschien is de lionfish het wapen van het koninkrijk van de toekomst.

Klok kijken met de zon. En alles vertalen. verre talen vertalen. Kompa nanzi. Die spin is heel Curaçaos, weet je? Dat is onze spin. Maar waar is die web? Site: Ons Eiland als podium. Macht spelletjes. Wij verge†en. Let us first look at the mystery of existence. En vergeten. Witte muren zijn slecht voor de ogen. Oranje kleding is zichtbaar een keer per jaar. Trots als het handig is. Wij kopen geen tweedehands spullen, alleen europeanen doen dat. Zij betaald haar splinternieuwe home theater in 1000 termijnen. Tv’s hangen van het plafond overal. Novela’s (soap opera’s), zender 8 of je had Satellit dish. Opgegroeid met slechte liedjes over God, en met Chavez op de scherm die telkens alles onderbrak. Gekke man werd ik verteld. Gekke man zei ik tegen anderen, zonder te wete waarom.

generatie ik-weet-het-beter

Revolutie en vuur hebben een intieme relatie. Oxidation, maar langzaam kan het ook. Ja, ja, we’ve got a dutch brandmerk. Tssssss. 1954 autonome democratie. Band met nederland. SSSSSSt. we kunnen hier een ei bakken op een rots en raken onszelf kwijt. Ik proef de zout tot in mijn ogen. Waar is de passie? Koffie Maravilla? De dood van identiteit.

en iedereen heeft het over teruggeven aan het eiland. wat hebben we dan genomen??

Welke hoeken van het eiland heb jij gezien? En dat kultuur uitdragen. Maar hoe? Het eiland bestaat in ons allemaal. Het is een plek die plek in neemt. De of het? Lingua Franca…..papiamentu, papiamento. Ik weet niet of mijn televisie werkt, maar ik gebruik het elke dag. Dat zijn wij nu. Kups vol ijs. Fresh bij de snek.

Geen naam en geen land. Welke zijn de bronnen van de geschiedenis. Nederlandse overheid. What is a girl like you doing in a place like this? When does the story become a reality and It’s told from perspective o f. Ik wist wat elite was, voordat ik het woord kende. Handelskade is de gefotografeerde booty van Curaçao en politici staan bekend als hoaxers

en vlees mannen. Horka santu. Zand is het symbool voor lange tocht door de woestijn op zoek naar vrijheid. Geen geluid na Karnaval. Val. in de val. 30 mei 69. POWER. Waar ging het nou om? Half korsou zegt dit, half korsou zegt dat. Janchi a keda sin djente.

Inferiority complex. zo? zielzorg. en huilende maskers. Mijn naam is een masker. Die achternaam heeft geen spellingsfouten, maar ik werd verteld dat ik niet deel van die kant van de familie ben. Ik dacht dat ik in een autoband was gevonden. Geen vader, geen moeder. Klopte maar half. Mijn oma moet steeds om lachen en ik ook. Moet mijn eigen hand gaan vasthouden.

And my mother moved from Colombia with the dream of becoming an artist in ‘86. She came and went twice, before staying definitely. Now we share the same dream. 5 bloods in one. Ik ben. Galerij en meer galerij. Behalve als Ik word geraakt door het verleden en de toekomst. Bijvoorbeeld mijn geboorte, die in de jaar 1993 plaatsvindt op het eiland. Een eiland die samen met Aruba en Bonaire en de kleine antillen de ‘islas inutiles’ werd genoemd door spanjaarden in de 17de eeuw. Collega’s in rijksverband. Try to judge someone in a full-body suit. Wij willen nut.

Once a revolutionary, now established. Steel structure end liquid cement.

De vrouw is hier de rots van de familie. Een rots die rokken draagt. MAMA. vechters en zorgers. Biologisch anders. Biografie van warmte, liefde i un bon sopi di galiña.
Maar als ik mijn haar niet mag knippen en mijn oksel haar moet knippen, heb ik het gehad.

Toen de vrouw aan de lijn mijn achternaam wist, ging het plots anders.
Van afrika tot in amerika. Banda ‘riba tot banda ‘bou. New movements everyday en passport swag. Ze was vergeten dat de informatie verspreid is, de vorm neemt van woorden, die vanaf mond naar oor springt.

Meneer Vrijheid heeft vele gezichten. Ben ik ooit de gastheer van de medelijden feest? My guest of honour. Een oor als een roos. Van Leeuwen. Lief doen kost moeite.

Spiritu is het papiaments woord voor geest of spook. I see it as the strain in your brain that filters our thoughts, making it possible to make sense of things, but also limiting our thoughts to what we know. Like not being able to imagine a man with tiny, occupied buildings as teeth. or to Imagine his breath.

Kijk, soms gebruik ik de google om beelden te maken. een barracuda nodig, bam, download, paste. Waarom moet ik schilderen in plaats? Wat zegt dit over mij? Over ons tijd? Dit is veel sneller en het kost niks. Behalve als je het moet printen natuurlijk. Krijgt het beeld meer waarde als het zich van medium verplaatst? Warhol heeft toch een soupcan met wat sokkel gezet. Maar snapten wij het wel? Snapte hij ons wel? We hebben beelden zat. Stock, non-stock, ads, logo’s, iconen, etc. Maar kunst regels waren ooit levend als een politieman in mijn hoofd.

En jij, kunstenaar! Jullie willen toch allemaal de realiteit begrijpen?
Waarom moet ik telkens aan jou denken? jij, de meester. Jij, die bezig is met een half opgestoken sigaret in je mond. Geen twijfel. Maar Ik ben hier, nu. Ik maak wat ik maak. Lekker makkelijk. Expressie of concept? mis de grijs. Iemand zei dat dat kunst een heel oud doorlopend gesprek is….ohm, ma kansa di papia, pero toch mi ta stim’e…….en nu? moet kunst door kunstenaars bekeken worden?

The exhibition was titled ‘tropical kingdom’. Caribbean artists. More caribbean than art. I was also thinking of joining the vaginal kingdom, explicitly dutch kingdom, the upcoming kingdom, not white/not black kingdom, lil’ gay kingdom, exotic kingdom, kingdom van n-u. Maybe then I will make the history books. Kingslim.

Some times we think the world owes us something. To act or appear?

Actually, it comes from the heart. Waar het brandt.
Ash. As I am writing, rewriting, tweaking, doubting, analyzing, doubting this, I realize how thankful I am to have the privilege to be able spend my time thinking about human beings and their shenanigans and returning the favour by materializing. #geenkunstmeer

Zo kan ik mijzelf een kans geven. Zo kan een essay dus ook.

Ik droom over utopie. Wat wij zijn verge†en.


mariekeAndDomenico-11Domenico Mangano and Marieke van Rooy are currently doing a residency at IBB (Instituto Buena Bista). They are working on the last film from their three part movie series about dilution. Dilution, meaning breaking the borders between a psychiatric clinic and the rest of the community. The project involves filming, letter writing, and a performance with clay flutes made by the students from IBB and the clients from ‘Klinika Capriles’ (a mental and health clinic).

During the interview we did not talk a lot about the project, because they have explained it several times already in detail. You can also find information about the project on the IBB website. The interview was more of a conversation about what lead up to them being here, and their experience on the island. Domenico explained how the trilogy was not planned out from the beginning. During the interview, he said; “When I made the first one my mindset [sic] was; Ok only one”. It was after Marieke found an archive about ‘Den Dolder’, while they were filming in ‘De Wissel, Friesland’, that they decided to go there. Then again, while in Den Dolder, a connection was found with Curaçao. Marieke explained how it was interesting for them to go to the Netherlands Antilles to see how they structure their psychiatric clinics, so you can get a good comparison with the Netherlands. During the interview, she said; “We were also curious to see how the Netherlands does things outside”.

mariekeAndDomenico-12From this we segued into discussing how they have been experiencing the island. Domenico told me how he likes Curaçao, because it reminds him of Palermo (where he grew up). He said; “It’s hot, people are very funny and they scream a lot like crazy, and beautiful beaches. The plants, the cactus they are the same, they are always the same so for me its like a specular”. He said that it is very tempting for him to shoot at other places around the island, but it is important for him to keep the focus on the clinic. Although he also said; “Maybe I will try, at night, to shoot ‘Isla’ (an oil refinery), because you can see it from the Klinika. I like to see it at night because it looks like a futuristic vision, with the lights. You don’t understand that it’s Curaçao, if you saw it from the Klinika. Curaçao is famous for nice beaches and other nice things but [not an oil refinery]”, but at this point he is not sure what will be in the final video. He said that it is sometimes difficult to make an art project with pictures. You have to make sure you do not become stereotypical or too cliché. For him his videos are like paintings, there are a lot of long scenes and the passing is a bit slower. This is because for him it is about observing, and with this last film they said it is proven to be a bit more difficult. They want to capture the real essence of the place, but they do not want to shoot similar scenes to the previous films. Although, unlike the previous projects there is more engagement with the clients from the clinic. Marieke noted that; “In this one, the last one, we are really making more connections. We are now trying, ourself, to establish a connection’.

mariekeAndDomenico-10Lastly something that really caught Marieke’s attention is the diversity on the island, the mixture of different cultures and languages. During our conversation she mentioned how she finds Curaçao very cosmopolitan, she said; “Much more than Amsterdam. It’s of course not true, because Amsterdam is of course much more cosmopolitan. Amsterdam has all subgroups, so everybody stays in their subgroup, and it is very difficult to make connections with the Moroccans, the Suriname’s, the [people from] Curaçao. Everybody has the possibility to stay in his own group, and in the end you do that. I always want to get out but it is not easy. Here because there are so few people, I meet everybody. I meet the Chinese from the shop, I meet the people from Colombia that sells me empanadas. In one day I switch from Dutch to Spanish”.

The opening for this project will be on the 21st of April starting at 17:30. They will not be showing the final film yet at this opening, but there will be an exhibition of the letters and drawings made by the students of IBB. There will also be a collaborative performance with Domenico and Marieke, the clients from the clinic, and the students from IBB.

Karel Leusink’s Experiences at IBB


What am I, as a trainee, experiencing at the IBB in Curacao?

I see the Instituto Buena Bista as a very unique place on the island of Curaçao.

This preparatory training in art is much wider than the name suggests.

Situated on the grounds of the psychiatric clinic Capriles, the initiators David Bade and his close friend Tirzo Martha, have gathered a good staff around them together with whom they’ll celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. I see this as a great achievement. Just to think that this came into existence and will remain here thanks to the hard work of this group of people. Besides the training and guidance towards the students, everyone is also responsible for his or her own practice as artists. Art must go on.

But what more happens here at this art training place?

With patience and respect the students get a lot of art education, perseverance, development of how to take responsibilities, presentation of their work and research that they have to do in Dutch and English. Reflective studies of their own projects in order to look more critically at their own work. Actually they get a lot of education in order to continue well in life. All of this separate still from whether you will earn your living in the arts.

Here the students are taught to be independent, to collaborate and to work towards a goal.

There is a very nice and positive work environment. It’s a pleasure to be here.

P_20160304_133027P_20160304_115815P_20160304_114217At the moment we are preparing a short film, directed by Damian Marcano, a film director from Trinidad. A “tribal story” where the students make all the props and costumes, but they’ll also be the actors. The film is set in a stunning location on the north coast of the island.

Everyone is excited to work in order to make the film a success.

Damian intends to submit the film for a film festival. So it’s quite serious.

If you see what is developed or made here with relatively few people, then I must say that this people deserves a lot of admiration.

For myself this is the opportunity to develop myself and to reflect on what is happening here.

For me this is a special experience from which I gain a lot.

I feel in myself the energy to express myself through my work. There is a positive interaction here at the IBB.

When I see how much energy is put into the IBB and the developing of plans for the 10th anniversary celebration, the exhibition and summer class of 3 months this year at Kunsthal Rotterdam and how hard everyone works for the existence of IBB here in Curacao gives me a lot of admiration. It’s hard to believe how much is being done here and with such an enthusiasm.

“Lucky me,” that I’m here!

Karel Leusink.

Reflective essay on your work


Art is my passion and at first I wanted to become ‘a great artist.’ That was my wish when I was 10 years old, when I saw a beautiful painting of a ballerina. Our assignment for today was to draw something about Christmas break. Each student got a different word, using the definition of the word to combine it with your work. The point was to try something different than we have done before. “Oeuvre”, is the body of work of the artist or an author, or simply a work of art. I was very happy to get this term because it is the kind of word to which anyone can relate too. I decided to use a big black sharpie to make the edges of the line appear rougher, since I usually love to draw with thin and fine lines.

What I did during My Christmas break is that I created my own working space in my old brothers room that is no longer being used . My brother is still living in Holland so it wasn’t a problem. My drawing was about the fact that I spent my entire Christmas break drawing and sketching everything that I found inspiring when I was a teenager, now that I finally have time to do it. My drawing is actually quite simple, but I loved it and I’m pretty sure that from it I can create another amazing drawing. On the drawing I drew myself sitting in the center in a yoga or mediating like pose. My face is relaxed and content, and you see several drawings floating around, connected by wires to me. With various drawings floating around me, in the background I added a door which represents ‘the exit.’ The door also depicts where I’ve come from; the university and eventually at IBB, whenever I’m being creative I forget about my surroundings and I focus on my work until I’m finished. I decided to rip off the sharp edges of my drawings because it made my work look too edgy and perfect, so I wanted to remove that look.

I sketched new things, redrew old drawings using my improved skills, and used references on the side to help me when I need it. Its fun to explore when you have your own work space. I used to have my working supplies in a box and stowed away in my closet, and they will be unused until I needed them. Putting my art supplies away in a box makes my inspiration harder to find. Sometimes I ended up buying things I already have. I felt empty when I saw my old abandoned works, which I had put aside to make time for my studies . I always loved and admired other artist for having their supplies neatly organized, racks on racks right next to their desk. These are usually professional artist working in their office, often crammed with plenty of coloring pencils, brushes, pencils, markers and paint tubes. I didn’t have enough space in my room, but what I didn’t notice is that these artist working space isn’t necessarily their bedroom. It wasn’t until I was at IBB I realized I could simply move into a new room and use that as an Atelier.

Stressed and tired of hours studying, I used to see art as a cash cow and quickly make money during my teen years. This idea has gotten worse after my car accident in 2007. I was a student at VSBO Marnix college. Ever since this accident, I slowed down with painting. After hours of working on a painting my shoulder starts hurting a lot, and to make it worse, I had to study on so I wouldn’t fall behind with school work. Because of this, I eventually started cartooning, working for the Amigoe news paper. Without thinking I jumped into a career I knew very little about, eager for having a job in art. Again I had to struggle combining school and my art lifestyle. I was interviewed three times during my stint as a cartoonist. My first interview was online by Carolina Gomez –Caresses of 1000awesomethingsofCuracao, my second was at Go Weekly, my third at Hoben Posetivo. Usually I dislike talking about this type of things because I’m afraid life would jinx it, I dislike showing off. But hiding and keeping things to myself also limited myself greatly. I was interviewed once again after winning third place for a coffee shop challenge. However, In the end, I had to stop working for the newspaper.

The reason why it is important for me is that my only focus now is to express myself and rebuild my world that I have left behind. Now I no longer worry about being good or being paid for what I make, but simply create as much as I can. My experiences opened my eyes and I no longer focus on what I get in return, but simply my development. IBB saved my life, and of course anything I have studied before paid off as well. All this time, I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost. I notice some first year students already became second year students, I now my goal is to work even harder so I can develop my art and working process.

Ethany Martina

It Is What It Is

An impression of the work experience during project Nick and Simon- ‘OPEN’


Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle. (Foto:

Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle. (Foto:

The project started with the selected eight visual artists who have let themselves get inspired by the songs of Nick and Simon’s new album titled ‘OPEN’. Each artist began to work based on one or more songs by the duo. The goal of this exhibition was to make a connection between music and fine art. After research and meetings with the director of museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, artists David Bade and Tirzo Martha decided that it would be a great opportunity to participate in this project. The arrangements of the project were clear and the goal was to collaborate with students from Cibap Zwolle and IBB alumni to create four stages, or better said, four installations.

A large group of students worked together with Tirzo Martha to build the foundation of these installations. After the first week into the project it became clear that the workshops with local students wasn’t planned well enough and thus the rest of the project continued with only IBB alumni and mentors Tirzo Martha, David Bade, and Fiona Henriquez for the duration of October 27th until November 20th 2015. Despite this miscommunication the project proceeded with a great working atmosphere in which the installations grew into an intriguing whole. This was very contrasting with the environment of the museum. The following report will give you a concise impression of the experiences acquired through the project Nick and Simon- ‘OPEN’.

Understanding life a bit better with IBB (a quote on one of the sculptures)

Various IBB alumni came to work daily on the installations which created a rotation effect on the project. Each person had their own input in their own manner which was not only based on the inspiration of the songs by Nick and Simon. The work also formed itself into each individual creation. Next to each stage a specific song continuously played through speakers where viewers could gain a better understanding of the working method by students and mentors. By working in the middle of the museum we also got the chance to talk individually with the viewers to explain what we were doing and would often lead to conversations on personal topics. This method of working was a well fit for IBB in which interventions of art and the social element stand central.



IBB alumni werken aan de verschillende podia

An example of this was when David had a conversation with a man who appeared to be a total fan of his work and the IBB institute. A moment like this is certainly unique because this individual had the opportunity to talk with the artist while he was standing and working on his piece. Or like the moment while I was painting on one of the installations and a man asked what the work was about. In this conversation I discovered that this 85 year old man was endlessly working on his creative process to reach a minimalistic result in his work. We both started to laugh because I had previously mentioned how minimalistic art intrigued me while my previous work was more figurative.


David Bade in gesprek met een bezoeker.

These conversations happened regularly and organically because of the interaction between the workers and the public. The very present coffee bar in the beautiful dome hall created even more attention and triggered a certain ‘passive participation’. This was a fascinating experience for me, especially because people tend to stand still for a second and take in the work and/or try to understand it. The discussions between the viewers were often questioning if the installation could be considered to be art or not. It is of course clear that people attend museums in the hope to admire and analyze “beautiful art”, but what do we really see and define as “beautiful art”?. A subject which contains both little and a lot to debate on because each individual has their own opinion and has the right to express this as well. That is why we hope to have reached the public with this project to let people think not only about art, but about life as well.

David Bade/N&S and the new Perspective/A4/Acrylpaint on paper.     

David Bade/N&S and the new Perspective/A4/Acrylpaint on paper.

It is what is is

The four songs by Nick and Simon were playing endlessly, of which each song was based by its matching stage/sculpture basis. ‘Het is was het is’(‘It is what it is’) was one of the famous songs of which I was able to sing along by the end of this project. For me this song was the most relevant with the process of our work in the museum because it can be explained as simple as ‘It is what it is’. Most of the viewers expected a more elaborate explanation of the work in which the individual does not give himself/herself the space to experience to analyze or understand what they are witnessing.

In my opinion this installation was the ultimate challenge for Museum de Fundatie and her public to let go of the so-called ‘beautiful art’. We hope that they have experienced something totally different, something totally out of the ordinary. When going to the exhibition, visitors had to take the elevator to the third floor. Upon exiting the doors they were immediately confronted with the installations. Often I would hear “wow this is so great how they are working here in the middle of the museum”, or “Is this really art?”, and “well you don’t see this everyday”. No matter how different the opinions were, this project has certainly left various impressions on the public. An example of the connection between fine arts and music can be read in the following lyrical fragment of Nick and Simon’s song “It is what it is”:

“…if everything will be OK

in the near future

it stays a common quest

and I turn into the limbo..”

We each try to understand life a bit better by our individual journeys. Art allows people to interpret life in various ways and for artists to express everything with their talent. The more we see and experience the more knowledge we will gain, not only for art but also to try to understand life. Eventually this report comes to its final conclusion,

It is what it is.

November 2015, Fiona Henriquez

Interview artists in residence Bart & Klaar

Bart&Klaar02Bart and Klaar are the type of artists that don’t always make tangible 2D and 3D art, but they create movement in the society they are currently in; they do intervention art.

Bart says: “We don’t say that art for the white space is over and done with. Everybody says these days that art must be all about society. But that is not necessarily so, because it’s also about ethics, and art is just art. But when we arrived on Curaçao we saw a society for which the best way to understand it was to go and visit where it happens. So it depends on the local context what we do.

So it is not about a country, or to make a work about a country, but with that country. And then you need to be where the things are happening, where there dynamics are. And that is not always in a museum.”

Klaar says: “If I may sum it up: To me the context is the location, and the physical location is irrelevant. To me the central question is: how do I relate to the context? I’m convinced that the context shapes me. I am not a neutral Klaar. I’m in interaction with the context all the time. I am different elsewhere, and here I’m clearly the Dutch Klaar. I’m a different Klaar in Surinam or in Peru. This is something that intrigues me. Also there is a very specific history here. If you haven’t immersed yourself in that, you actually haven’t been here.”

On Curacao the expectations about artists are different: people quickly assume that if you are an artist that you can paint well. Have you encountered this a lot here? How do you go about it?

Bart: “If we explain what we do, people ask: Yes, but what do you make?

And we say: it is sometimes ‘a hard question’, sometimes not, but it is hard to explain. It’s hard to explain here that a hard question like that, can be part of your thoughts about something. It doesn’t have to be only a drawing or schedule. Artists are often reduced to only making objects. We often say that there are already many objects. It can feel like you are producing objects like an assembly line.

That’s what I like about IBB: you don’t only produce. There is also space for reflection, citizenship and being involved in social processes. It’s not just this assembly line where each time a painting drops off. You don’t do art justice when you reduce it to only making works that are tangible objects, although, that is what people can buy.”

Klaar: “Here people don’t even ask if you paint but what you paint. Landscapes or portraits? But because we are more about relation-based instead of transactions, objects are not relevant. They are only relevant as medium or as stumbling rock or as intermediary. And an art object without context or relationship is something we haven’t made in a long time. We are now at the point that we wish to make souvenirs, and those are objects to remember the relationship. And that is the downside of relationships: if you leave, the relationship fades away.”

Bart&Klaar class11132015 (2)What do you think is necessary to make a work like that, a souvenir, come out in the best way possible?

“The souvenir is a success if it recalls the specific relationship and not the cliché. We have seen a lot of souvenirs here and you are guided to a not realistic experience. For example the Chichis refer to big sized women in colourful bathing suits, but you don’t see women smiling happily at the beach sitting in those and it’s not something you really experience. It would be ideal if a souvenir would refer to a more personal experience.”

You are very engaged with the students here. They immediately notice that you are here to pour your time and knowledge into them and not that you are here primarily to do your own thing, they love this. Did you always have this sort of effect?

“Here comes the IBB promo”, Bart jokes. “No, It really depends on who invites us. The interest we always have, but at some places there is this stiff doctrine of how things are done; you can feel that you are the Christmas decoration as an artist. And that can be okay, that you do something on the side, parallel. But what we found interesting here is that we could think about different approaches and how to think about making art. But also about the few lectures we gave that are about the creative process, what is in your mind, and not what comes from your hands. To be aware about concepts. If I look at art I always try to look at the person, those things go together.

For me when I look at a great artist, I also see a great person. For me a great artist can’t be a bad person.

With art you can also do good. And this is something that we try to do with interaction at IBB. Not to only feed our own ego, which we have too, but that it can be mainly about the interaction. So the students are also open towards us. So it also depends on the demand.”

Do you have some educational background?

Klaar: “I don’t, but I am a true teacher. I’ve made a lot of works, performances, in which eventually people participted, and this evolved into a concept. To bring back what you do to a few simpler steps is a good way to teach. I love to give instructions to which people can get a certain think- and acting process. And for us it’s like a party to talk about concepts. To me it’s the most radical freeing form of art. It’s immaterial and doesn’t require any techniques than to only see things with a clear eye. The art is egalitarian because just instructions are more than enough, you don’t need to possess.

Bart&Klaar11062015 (37)It would be great to leave behind your manifesto for us.

Bart jokes: “I feel a gentle pressure…”

Klaar: “Yes, in that sense our work is conceptual because we always find ways to pass it on.”

Bart: “And we like to have this airy approach where we teach about other artists too, and not just about ourselves because we want others to learn about other artists. It is not about his ego either or how skilled this artist is, but more about his conceptual approach. For example an assignment on the work of artist Erwin Wurm, we didn’t really explain the students what to do exactly but just showed pictures and talked a bit about it.”

Klaar: “But we like that people just know the basics, just the concept and then just go and do their own thing. And also check if it made sense.”

Bart: “Where is something good or where is something less good? It can be something very small that makes a difference if a picture is good or not. This has to do with beauty or aesthetics.

A student (Leomar Imperator, red.) loves to walk long distances and discover new locations. He came to us and asked if he could use that for his art. It would be great that he can transform the daily things in life to meaning, instead of routine. And with that in some way you gain back your own authority on your daily life. We think that people are losing this more and more. The choices you are allowed to make in life are fewer every day.

The essence of an artist is someone who forms his own opinion but also his own action.

If that tradition loses its foundation, because you decide less and less, this means that art becomes less and less approachable. We can’t put ourselves in the perspective of the individual that searches and acts himself.

Still here in Curaçao people wonder: But how do you get food on the table?

We give lectures, workshops, we teach. We also get assignments. It creates tension because in fact we go against the capitalistic system of buying more, taking more loans, more money, more use of stuff, etc. Always more, but more doesn’t lead to a better world, it only makes the piles of waste grow, so there is more tension. We also got this question in the Netherlands and it’s a challenge, but the miraculous part of it is that we can live from it, and for a long time already. On the long term we don’t have worries but surely there are the little things short term.”

Klaar: “And we live modestly, but it is a switch that you make.”

Bart: “It’s uncertainty. It’s a dynamic, a choice in which you have so much freedom. You search for the risk because you make art. But this question about income is a good one. When I do studio visits the first question I ask looking at the studio is: how much is the rent? Because this practical question is important to indicate if the artist can keep it up. I’m not a practical idealist, that’s too opportunistic, but there is an interaction between thinking to be able to afford this life.”

Klaar: “And that’s why because we find that conceptual work is so important, because many artist must work for income next to their creative work. The more time you can transform from pressure to choice, the better. It will be very freeing, to transform for a large part the time you have to the way you choose. For example Leomar can take his walks, but these he can transform into something. It’s the same with worship. You can celebrate creation with work, taking out the characteristic of duty, replacing that with volunteer work and everything you do is in the context of the planet. When you are doing the dishes it get’s a total different charge.

And maybe we are lucky bastards and we can’t promise the artist life we have to young people, but then at least you are obliged to formulate an alternative strategy. Bart, do you agree?”

Bart: “No, I don’t agree. I think that everyone can fight for that if they feel the urgency to do so. We are not raised in luxury, we give lessons to young people because we have the drive to show that you can, without money, without status, without means, make art. Without romanticising it. I love to work in neighbourhoods where there is poverty and problems, but I like those problems more than the problems of a rich neighbourhood. I can relate better to people who improvise than to people who put walls around their mansions being afraid that their possessions will be taken from them. I find those white gated communities here an awful world that is not my own. And that is the difference between capitalism and socialism: it’s your starting point, the individual or the collective. But something like this gated community looks like a collective, but it’s actually individual people who are afraid to lose what they have gained. Those walls are very symbolic, and to me those gates are disturbing because they are never about trust.

Outside of Europe there are many countries where everything is gated, even the car you park in a cage, afraid that it gets stolen. And that is the beauty of a residency; that you are forced to look in a different way to things you don’t understand, and you can get familiar with it. Now we also live in a house with gates and it also means peace and safety. But I think: where are we then?

Well, for the same reason you lock your bike in Amsterdam, to say: this bike is not a giveaway. But in a village in the Netherlands you don’t need to lock your bike.

Klaar: “I heard from a father of one of the students that young people who don’t have the means to buy an expensive watch, commited a robbery on a Chinese store to get to what they want. Living in a materialistic world and wanting to count, having no work, you will think of all the fast ways to get what you need to get to count; swallowing cocaine pellets, committing robberies, etc. But the stupidity is that you steal from each other, a very destructive way to bring down your own community. So I can understand the gates, but it doesn’t solve anything, because it challenges the thief to take the gate down. Instead, how do you make a young person count in this society? How do you take away the urge to have an expensive watch?”

Are there moments that you do want to do a residency purely to make individual work, with that urgency?

Bart: “No, I don’t think so, because we are very curious. Of course we will make works, but we are very curious to know new things and to compare things to what we already discovered. And it’s always exciting to see what part you will take in this interaction with the previous experiences. So I don’t know if you can call me an experience artist, so to speak. To students we say: You think of something large and abstract, bring it back to yourself and to your own experience. It becomes personal and then has an effect. Sometimes concepts like capitalism against communism for example are so large it’s very difficult to say something about that, but when you have an experience, you actually care. I find it difficult that the youth now can be indifferent and get easily bored and can’t find this spark. Everywhere in the world people are in this way isolating, moving less and meeting less. No coincidences. Kids are brought and picked up from school, being in one safe space. There is little surprise, little disappointment and the chance for failing hard is rarely there. Fact is that we only live within our own lifestyles, and we are like in this trunk. Rich kids lead a very protected life and on the other hand poor kids are that much on the streets that they get this twisted idea that they can become successful without doing any effort. I saw a few videoclips of Curacao rappers in which women are standing on the car, singing and taking out their guns and then their expressions stop, because the gun takes over everything. My point is: what sort of culture do we form together?”

Klaar: “I rather not pay attention to stuff like this because it’s not something I took part in, it’s a different generation with its own media. If I can’t place myself in them I rather not give my opinion. I have no idea how it feels to find it normal to always be “connected” (social media connected). I don’t know how it feels to be able to swipe on a screen since childhood. I have no idea as to how a non-physical world can be such a large part of your memories. It’s very strange to have been to places that don’t exist. So I think this is mysterious and I rather do something in the physical reality.”

Bart: “But we work with the phenomenon of ‘we’, and we work in public space and then you pay attention to the behaviour on the street. And what makes it different for us is that you don’t have the phenomenon of the pavement here. So the pavement is a weird meeting place for neighbours and of the street, but here in Curaçao a lot happens from within the car and from this airconditioned box. There is little space of greeting and chatting with each other from the car.

However families take a whole day to spend time with each other on the beach. This we don’t know in the Netherlands and I find that impressive of family life here.”

Bart&Klaar class11132015 (4)We don’t have many local artists here like you who do socially involved playful actions to bring awareness about something. What makes a fertile soil that could bring forth artists like you?

Bart: “Yesterday we were in the neighbourhood Fleur de Marie, which went through a transformation by a combination of strive and party. The premises are owned by Monumentenzorg, the houses are built by people themselves, a combination of authentic houses and self-built houses. And here you see that they kept the combination of both styles and did not make it all clean and smooth in one style, getting rid of whatever looks poor. I found that really nice to see, it’s possible to transform but keep the original character. So I would create artist-in-residence spaces within these neighbourhoods. To go as an artist and live and feel and be there with people who have been living there for 80 years. That I think is a super challenge and those neighbourhoods are here. Not to make art about the people but with the people.”

Klaar: “The fertile soil is that it happens and when it happens you will see that more people will follow. When it’s there and then it happens more.

But, essential in this process is communication. So it goes together with the willingness to communicate. That is the precarious part. And here people are distant, they stay quiet and don’t share, not because they don’t have an opinion but because they don’t grant it to you.

If you don’t share it won’t work.

So these, communication and trust, are the essential parts.”

Does being a foreigner in this process make it easier or more difficult?

Bart: “We are invited by someone on the inside. If we would just be here as tourists it would be much more difficult. So IBB invited us and being here everyone knows we are here temporarily so that can make it easier and we can get away with asking the strangest questions, but the language Papiamentu can work as an obstacle and can keep us out. Also when people invite you they say, yes come but then when you are there it can be awkward. Sometimes people here aren’t too warmly, I have to say. You feel resistance, I almost don’t want to use the word ‘makamba’ but it has to do with it.”

So if you would be Colombian instead of Dutch it would have been totally different?

Bart: “I think so, but I’m not sure.”

Klaar: “But here we are also part of the conflicts. And this brings lively discussion. It is a fact that not everything is settled with the relationship between the Netherlands and Curacao. Because of the history being Dutch and being here you’ll bear the brunt. In a way I feel honoured to get that role.

Bart: “we find it interesting to be in the middle of these dynamics, it matters. We still haven’t gotten the approach to mind our own business. And we don’t have the intention to put in our noses in other peoples business. If I can say one thing about the ISLA: a refinery is always something nasty, in every part of the world. Oil is something nasty. It’s clear what a refinery does and there hardly is a clean way to go about it. But the entire world is busy with alternative forms of energy. The government here doesn’t give the impression to steer the thoughts in this direction. There is so much wind and sun here. The entire island could easily run on these energy sources, you don’t even need any research for that. But why doesn’t it happen? And questions like this are fun to ask here.”

Klaar: “But I do notice that the island is in the grip of the past and not so much focused on the future. Not focused on new visions. What are the visions for in 10 years? Or even 5 years? People live very much in the now and try to solve things from the past.“

Bart: “We are shocked that there is no budget for education. You think you would give a better future to children than the one that you had. It’s a cliché to say children are the future, but you have to think forward. But a lot here seems to go about what has happened or has not happened in the past.

I have a hopeful ending. IBB is for us a warm bath. We can do a lot and the structure here is in a way that we can touch base on a lot of things. I think it’s very necessary to make stories together about all this useless polarisation, such as what is a real ‘Yu di Kòrsou’. So Curacao is already a society, a people as it is. So this nonsense about some people being original ‘Yu di Kòrsou’ and others not, this is something we should make artworks about. We need to actively fight this, and not only be against this, but to show that you are already something and that you can enjoy each other. Take joy in each other, as you are.

It seems there is a hostage situation taking place, but the robbers are we ourselves. Everyone acts afraid, or in a sort of weird humble way towards each other. But you are already citizens here and in your full right to demand, for example, a better education for our children. Who’s children get bad education? Ours right? With cultural projects and art in neighbourhoods, with lots of love and patience you can accomplish a lot.”

Klaar: “For us it’s new, but we are the number-so-much resident of IBB. So what we want to leave behind is a reader for the next resident. We did a lot of research and we want to share that with the next resident, so they don’t need to go through the same ritual dance on Google. I find it a pity that the residence house shows nothing of the former artist. It’s very sterile. I would like to see things that give the impression that you are in this tradition. We are the 55th resident. This is a tip.”

Bart: “Another tip for IBB is that the students do more internships at companies here on the island.

Third tip: As an artist you are busy with your public, and with social projects it’s almost dramatic because your public becomes your topic. Something IBB could think about, besides the Open Day, is to offer a master class ‘Public’. What is a Curacao public, skip the palm trees and show different things and educate your public.

After all the workshops and the seminars we gave, it is the time for practice. After all… the proof of the pudding is in the eating. At this moment, we conducted with a team of students, under the guidance of MJ Zapata, ideas/scenarios to be used in public areas of Willemstad. It is intended that a lasting relationship and cooperation remains after we are gone between the government and IBB. Our goal is a laboratory ‘art in public space’ for the students, so that ideas become experiments you can try out in the real world. Art in the center of society, not only in the white space!

In the end Bart & Klaar for the first time have students execute their concepts in the form of a procession that will take place in Punda. It will be also filmed and shown in the new Esmeralda building of IBB on the 16th of December.