I have been asking around to friends what are some of the cultural exhibits and shows that I should be sure and catch while I am in Amsterdam. Catherine told me that I should go to the "Kunstvlaai" experimental art exhibition that is happening at Westerpark in northwestern Amsterdam. Another friend Mark warned me against it, telling me that it was mostly a waste of time except for an exhibit on the "death of copyright."
Clearly the KunstVlaai elicits strong reactions from people, and was only seven euro for the whole exhibit, so I thought I should stop by.
The "Kunstvlaai" (or "Art Pie" as it is called in English) is a massive multi-artist exhibition on the grounds of an old factory in Westerpark, one of the most beautiful parks in Amsterdam. The visit to the park and the factory was already worth the trip, I thought as I arrived on my bike.
Entering one of five exhibition halls, I could kind of see what Mark was talking about. Each piece I saw was more inscrutable and pretentious than the last. Here's a video of a girl dancing to a pop song. There's a spinning black tarp. Oh, and a melted wheelbarrow. Alrightee then.
It didn't help that everything was in Dutch, of course.
Then I entered the main exhibition area in a gigantic round building and was much more impressed. I am not much of a performance art kind of guy, but I really liked all the pieces that had humans as part of the exhibit.
Entering the round building, you are assaulted by electronic music and these freakishly attired girls doing some sort of robotic performance amidst various electronics and hospital equipment. I sort of zoned out for a long time watching them connect various devices to each other and do the robot. Kind of made me want to get in there and start doing it myself.
Next to the robot girls was this "Manikin" dude strung up on a harness, with various electrodes stuck to his body. In front of him was a control panel that was more than decorative. Pushing buttons connected to a drawing of a person made the guy jerk that part of his body. A slider determined how severe his movement would be.
I loved both how he moved and how the person controlling him reacted, which was typically to squeal, pause, and then push more buttons.
Another cool performance art piece was this "business demonstration" called "Open Impact Channel." The two performers re-enacted what seemed to be a pre-programmed pitch for a marketing scheme called Open Impact Channel. I saw it three times and it was done identically each time.
It reminded me of all of the fakey business presentations I've seen in my life and all of the bullshit that is typically expressed.
All-in-all a fun and engaging day in Westerpark.