One of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, Allerleirauh. In Dutch the title of this story is Bontepels, in English All-Kinds-of-Fur, sometimes translated as Thousandfurs. The three dresses in this story had stuck with me.
… three dresses, one as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars; besides this, I wish for a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur and hair joined together …
I did search for a moon dress this Monday morning. I came across an Alexander McQueen dress. Beautiful. I also found a lovely golden dress and one which to me resembles a star in a way, both from McQueen as well. The mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur i didn’t find. But another fur mantle did pop up which looks lovely.
In another post i will dive deeper into McQueen’s work.
You may read the fairy tale Allerleirauh here, and listen to me reading this aloud. Enjoy!
There was once on a time a King who had a wife with golden hair, and she was so beautiful that her equal was not to be found on earth. It came to pass that she lay ill, and as she felt that she must soon die, she called the King and said, “If thou wishest to marry again after my death, take no one who is not quite as beautiful as I am, and who has not just such golden hair as I have: this thou must promise me.” And after the King had promised her this she closed her eyes and died.
For a long time the King could not be comforted, and had no thought of taking another wife. At length his councillors said, “There is no help for it, the King must marry again, that we may have a Queen.” And now messengers were sent about far and wide, to seek a bride who equalled the late Queen in beauty. In the whole world, however, none was to be found, and even if one had been found, still there would have been no one who had such golden hair. So the messengers came home as they went.
Now the King had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her dead mother, and had the same golden hair. When she was grown up the King looked at her one day, and saw that in every respect she was like his late wife, and suddenly felt a violent love for her. Then he spake to his councillors, “I will marry my daughter, for she is the counterpart of my late wife, otherwise I can find no bride who resembles her.” When the councillors heard that, they were shocked, and said, “God has forbidden a father to marry his daughter, no good can come from such a crime, and the kingdom will be involved in the ruin.” The daughter was still more shocked when she became aware of her father’s resolution, but hoped to turn him from his design. Then she said to him, “Before I fulfil your wish, I must have three dresses, one as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars; besides this, I wish for a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur and hair joined together, and one of every kind of animal in your kingdom must give a piece of his skin for it.” But she thought, “To get that will be quite impossible, and thus I shall divert my father from his wicked intentions.” The King, however, did not give it up, and the cleverest maidens in his kingdom had to weave the three dresses, one as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars, and his huntsmen had to catch one of every kind of animal in the whole of his kingdom, and take from it a piece of its skin, and out of these was made a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur. At length, when all was ready, the King caused the mantle to be brought, spread it out before her, and said, “The wedding shall be to-morrow.” .
When, therefore, the King’s daughter saw that there was no longer any hope of turning her father’s heart, she resolved to run away from him. In the night whilst every one was asleep, she got up, and took three different things from her treasures, a golden ring, a golden spinning-wheel, and a golden reel. The three dresses of the sun, moon, and stars she put into a nutshell, put on her mantle of all kinds of fur, and blackened her face and hands with soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went away, and walked the whole night until she reached a great forest. And as she was tired, she got into a hollow tree, and fell asleep.
The sun rose, and she slept on, and she was still sleeping when it was full day. Then it so happened that the King to whom this forest belonged, was hunting in it. When his dogs came to the tree, they sniffed, and ran barking round about it. The King said to the huntsmen, “Just see what kind of wild beast has hidden itself in there.” The huntsmen obeyed his order, and when they came back they said, “A wondrous beast is lying in the hollow tree; we have never before seen one like it. Its skin is fur of a thousand different kinds, but it is lying asleep.” Said the King, “See if you can catch it alive, and then fasten it to the carriage, and we will take it with us.” When the huntsmen laid hold of the maiden, she awoke full of terror, and cried to them, “I am a poor child, deserted by father and mother; have pity on me, and take me with you.” Then said they, “Allerleirauh, thou wilt be useful in the kitchen, come with us, and thou canst sweep up the ashes.” So they put her in the carriage, and took her home to the royal palace. There they pointed out to her a closet under the stairs, where no daylight entered, and said, “Hairy animal, there canst thou live and sleep.” Then she was sent into the kitchen, and there she carried wood and water, swept the hearth, plucked the fowls, picked the vegetables, raked the ashes, and did all the dirty work.
Allerleirauh lived there for a long time in great wretchedness. Alas, fair princess, what is to become of thee now! It happened, however, that one day a feast was held in the palace, and she said to the cook, “May I go up-stairs for a while, and look on? I will place myself outside the door.” The cook answered, “Yes, go, but you must be back here in half-an-hour to sweep the hearth.” Then she took her oil-lamp, went into her den, put off her fur-dress, and washed the soot off her face and hands, so that her full beauty once more came to light. And she opened the nut, and took out her dress which shone like the sun, and when she had done that she went up to the festival, and every one made way for her, for no one knew her, and thought no otherwise than that she was a king’s daughter. The King came to meet her, gave his hand to her, and danced with her, and thought in his heart, “My eyes have never yet seen any one so beautiful!” When the dance was over she curtsied, and when the King looked round again she had vanished, and none knew whither. The guards who stood outside the palace were called and questioned, but no one had seen her.
She had, however, run into her little den, had quickly taken off her dress, made her face and hands black again, put on the fur-mantle, and again was Allerleirauh. And now when she went into the kitchen, and was about to get to her work and sweep up the ashes, the cook said, “Leave that alone till morning, and make me the soup for the King; I, too, will go upstairs awhile, and take a look; but let no hairs fall in, or in future thou shalt have nothing to eat.” So the cook went away, and Allerleirauh made the soup for the king, and made bread soup and the best she could, and when it was ready she fetched her golden ring from her little den, and put it in the bowl in which the soup was served. When the dancing was over, the King had his soup brought and ate it, and he liked it so much that it seemed to him he had never tasted better. But when he came to the bottom of the bowl, he saw a golden ring lying, and could not conceive how it could have got there. Then he ordered the cook to appear before him.
The cook was terrified when he heard the order, and said to Allerleirauh, “Thou hast certainly let a hair fall into the soup, and if thou hast, thou shalt be beaten for it.” When he came before the King the latter asked who had made the soup? The cook replied, “I made it.” But the King said, “That is not true, for it was much better than usual, and cooked differently.” He answered, “I must acknowledge that I did not make it, it was made by the rough animal.” The King said, “Go and bid it come up here.” When Allerleirauh came, the King said, “Who art thou?” “I am a poor girl who no longer has any father or mother.” He asked further, “Of what use art thou in my palace?” She answered, “I am good for nothing but to have boots thrown at my head.” He continued, “Where didst thou get the ring which was in the soup?” She answered, “I know nothing about the ring.” So the King could learn nothing, and had to send her away again.
After a while, there was another festival, and then, as before, Allerleirauh begged the cook for leave to go and look on. He answered, “Yes, but come back again in half-an-hour, and make the King the bread soup which he so much likes.” Then she ran into her den, washed herself quickly, and took out of the nut the dress which was as silvery as the moon, and put it on. Then she went up and was like a princess, and the King stepped forward to meet her, and rejoiced to see her once more, and as the dance was just beginning they danced it together. But when it was ended, she again disappeared so quickly that the King could not observe where she went. She, however, sprang into her den, and once more made herself a hairy animal, and went into the kitchen to prepare the bread soup. When the cook had gone up-stairs, she fetched the little golden spinning-wheel, and put it in the bowl so that the soup covered it.
Then it was taken to the King, who ate it, and liked it as much as before, and had the cook brought, who this time likewise was forced to confess that Allerleirauh had prepared the soup. Allerleirauh again came before the King, but she answered that she was good for nothing else but to have boots thrown at her head, and that she knew nothing at all about the little golden spinning-wheel.
When, for the third time, the King held a festival, all happened just as it had done before. The cook said, “Faith rough-skin, thou art a witch, and always puttest something in the soup which makes it so good that the King likes it better than that which I cook,” but as she begged so hard, he let her go up at the appointed time. And now she put on the dress which shone like the stars, and thus entered the hall. Again the King danced with the beautiful maiden, and thought that she never yet had been so beautiful. And whilst she was dancing, he contrived, without her noticing it, to slip a golden ring on her finger, and he had given orders that the dance should last a very long time. When it was ended, he wanted to hold her fast by her hands, but she tore herself loose, and sprang away so quickly through the crowd that she vanished from his sight.
She ran as fast as she could into her den beneath the stairs, but as she had been too long, and had stayed more than half-an-hour she could not take off her pretty dress, but only threw over it her fur-mantle, and in her haste she did not make herself quite black, but one finger remained white. Then Allerleirauh ran into the kitchen, and cooked the bread soup for the King, and as the cook was away, put her golden reel into it. When the King found the reel at the bottom of it, he caused Allerleirauh to be summoned, and then he espied the white finger, and saw the ring which he had put on it during the dance. Then he grasped her by the hand, and held her fast, and when she wanted to release herself and run away, her mantle of fur opened a little, and the star-dress shone forth. The King clutched the mantle and tore it off. Then her golden hair shone forth, and she stood there in full splendour, and could no longer hide herself. And when she had washed the soot and ashes from her face, she was more beautiful than anyone who had ever been seen on earth. But the King said, “Thou art my dear bride, and we will never more part from each other.”
Thereupon the marriage was solemnized, and they lived happily until their death.
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This is what most girls dream of: becoming a hugely popular popstar, admired all over the world, singing their hearts out. With every step they take people watch them, try to talk to them, ask for a photograph, a signature, anything.
I started with looking for photos of the popstars of now, ended up with the popstars of my youth. Most of them young, some a bit older, better called women.
The reality is of course very different. I remember reading an interview with Roisin Murphy, in which she talked about being asked if she wanted to become world famous. No. She said.
I completely understand that answer.
As for me, nobody ever asked me that question. so here i am asking myself that question.
First, i’m a woman, not a girl. Some bits of fame i can not access anymore.
I confess i dream of it sometimes. It could be some sort of wish fulfillment. To make my life worth something.
But i do see other reasons, other advantages of being famous. If you are strong enough that is. If you have good friends. Who can keep on talking sense into you. Because i think this world would be utterly, totally greedy and hungry and take everything from you. Photographers zooming in on you, people asking for interviews, asking for your presence on television. Terrible.
And i can still see something in there, something worthwhile. Talking with people of all ages, anywhere. Talking about their lives, their children, their loved ones, their work. About their wishes. About what they miss.
I’m not sure i am able to do it. But that is my biggest wish, for that to happen. I can fail. Of course. But there also might be a small chance i can succeed. Maybe.
Well, time for some photos: the magnificent girls!
Note: those eyelashes! Wow!! All of them!
Gilbert & George were already very prolific when i went to art school, in 1986. I became a fan. I must have seen their work on the trip to Berlin, Germany in the first year. Mönchengladbach, Düsselforf, Keulen, Berlin. Not sure this was right for this trip, but these names have stuck in my mind. There was a great museum park with small buildings and sculptures and the most wonderful lunch you can imagine. I searched for it just yet, but it is hard to find. There was also a place in Düsseldorf, the musea in Cologne and then of course the musea in Berlin. Still divided in two. One day we did go to East Berlin, through Checkpoint Charlie. There was a restaurant where we had a bite to eat, with more than half closed of. It was a different world. A different time.
But, i’m sure there were some of Gilbert & George‘s works hanging around. In 1989 i wrote something about them. It doesn’t say for which section this was. Most likely it was for art history. The only section for which we had to write something.
After i finished school, when i went to work. I left art behind me. It was a world in which i wasn’t that interested anymore. I guess. Even when i started working on the internet, i wasn’t thinking about art, wasn’t reading that many books about it. So when i moved to London and lived there for around seven months, i didn’t realize i lived so close to Gilbert & George. I do remember one time, when i was sitting in a pub in Spitalfields Market, that they walked past. Someone one pointed them out. And i did see them, walking by.
I will write more about Gilbert & George. This post is about my memories, about something i wrote, about where i lived when i stayed in London. The next piece will be about their work.
Last night the greenhouse of the Peace Garden burned down.
Someone on facebook told me about it on one of my latest posts about the garden. This morning, around half past nine, i walked up there to check. My first reaction was actually relieve. I had imagined the whole garden burned down. Luckily it was only the greenhouse. Then my reaction was sadness. And then anger. And then sadness once more.
I walked back home to get my iPhone. I did call the two maintainers then and told them both in their voice mail. Then i told the whole group in our whatsapp group. After a few initial reactions i walked back to make some photos to post in the whatsapp group. (I don’t have internet on my iPhone. I can only connect back home with my wifi.) Back home once more there were many reactions in the group. And even more after i posted the photos.
I made some tea and went back with it.
I could see the center of the fire was towards the back of the greenhouse. At the back stood the water tanks, which were melted. The inside of the greenhouse was burned and cracked, the plastic molten away, the iron fences bent and deformed.
Soon other people came by, Jorinde and Andreas. We were all shocked. But also thinking about what might have caused this, what to do next, what sort of greenhouse to make next, what of the chicken run, what of the seedlings we should be sowing again in the next two weeks. Questions tumbling over each other.
John, our homeless person residing in the greenhouse came along. He told us it was another group of people who had done this, while he was away to work. Jealousy.
Murray, Daniel and Julien came along. We cleaned up a little bit.
Then Daniel treated us all to coffee and chocolate milk. And we talked a bit more, sitting on the benches outside the garden.
A week and a half ago i talked with Julien about my desire for someone special in my life. But i also said i didn’t want to date. Dating reminds me of bringing only the best parts of me. There is simply no way i will ever go in Tinder or some dating website and try to find someone there. It was hard to talk about this, to explain this feeling i had. I did say i was feeling happy. Really. Even though my money situation is extremely tight right now. I don’t worry about it. I’m not sure why. I know i should, really. I know a few years back i would be worried sick. But i am not worried right now. I trust myself, in who i am, in my work – this website. I know things could go wrong, but i feel they won’t. I don’t understand this, but this is a very strong feeling.
To me, this world we live in, the state of it, the way people live here in Western Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in the Middle East, in America. It just isn’t enough for me. There are so many people scared, worried sick, afraid for their lives. And here in the Netherlands people worry about the money they make. The money they set aside for their pension. The money they pay for their health insurance. The money they pay for their other insurances. The money they pay for their internet, and television, and phones.
I don’t want to live like this.
Only now i slowly begin to realize how upset i am. How angry. Livid. Furious.
So yes, i would love to fall in love. Have a boyfriend. Someone to talk with, sleep with, kiss with, have sex with. Of course. A friend. A true friend. Of course. But he is not around. And i’m not going to let that stop me from living my life. Fight for what i believe is right. Hell no.
…. breath ….
…. relax ….
…. 🙂 ….
—- Adrenaline was streaming through my body. Bit more average now. Better! —-
The plan is to work tomorrow, Thursday, to get the greenhouse cleared, the ground around it cleared.
And me, i am writing this post Fire now. After i read a bit more in my Gilbert & George books. I will make a post dedicated to them soon. I leave you with one of their works from 1984, Death Hope Life Fear. I do want to get my head clear about their work before though. So yes, reading, learning.
One of their largest and most ambitious pictures, the quadripartite DEATH HOPE LIFE FEAR tackles the central themes of human existence. Its powerful compositions and luminescent colours make this one of the high points of Gilbert & George’s art of the 1980s.
Together, DEATH and LIFE suggest an ongoing cycle of mortality and re-birth, with the figures of the artists simultaneously rising and falling, growing and shrinking. In DEATH, they are embraced by the petals of a rose and a daisy, while in LIFE giant leaves behind their shoulders resemble the wings of angels. In FEAR, the figures of young men are isolated from each other, dispersed at different levels. HOPE, by contrast, presents an image of unity and strength, with the youths arranged into definite groups in front of a landscape reminiscent of the white cliffs of Dover.
Alberto Giacometti – 10 October 1901 – 11 January 1966 – is one of the artists i knew before i went to art school. I went to La Grande Parade, the goodbye exhibition of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam director Edy de Wilde. Giacometti’s work was part of this collection. I’m not sure i saw it clearly at the time. But it did stay with me.
A year later there was an exhibition in the Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague from 1 March till 12 May 1986. I still see images in my head of walking through these exhibition. Drawings, paintings and sculpture were shown here. I bought the catalogue and read it thoroughly back home.
Over the years my admiration for Giacometti has faded. I still love his work, yes, but it doesn’t play a big part in my life. Still, a few thoughts have stayed with me.
My first year in art school was fantastic. I loved working for all the different subjects taught. I initially went there with the thought i would go into graphic design, but i switched. Painting! So that was my second year. I failed horribly. I got a big zero, a big null from my painting teacher. So the next year i had to switch. Monumental and photography. Better choices. I was getting more into political oriented art, current affairs art. I liked Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol. Not that i completely understood why they made their work, but still.
When i had finished art school, with a proper diploma, i had a couple of years of care of the government. Those were the easy times. One or two assignments. The organization of Sexposition with a friend from art school. But i didn’t feel comfortable in the art world. So i jumped out, in 1994, when i got the opportunity to get a proper job and earn my own living.
Giacometti by that time was far back over the horizon. My time was spend with computers. I started working on my own website in 1997. And that was it. I found my way.
So i’m not sure why i picked Giacometti as a post last week. I have the one for Andy Warhol still standing as a draft. But that one requires more work. This one is a bit easier. I think. Not sure.
I always enjoyed his paintings more than his sculpture. Even though he is more well known for his sculpture. Maybe because it seems more finished? The sculptures are rough. You can see the manual labour in them, but they still appear before your eyes as a piece complete in itself. The drawings and paintings are sketchy. Lines are not used to depict all the textures and shapes of the visible world, but to almost write a person. The drawing or painting is not a world on its own, with its two dimensional depiction. It is an active looking into this world, into the objects and subjects of it.
A few thoughts have stayed with me. One is that when i am old with my life mostly finished, i will return to drawing and painting. Right now, i am not sure about this. I don’t know if this is still a true thought. I don’t know what i’ll be doing once i’m old. Still have a lot of life to live. I’m not planning my life all beforehand. I like some surprises!
I also see in Giacometti’s work someone struggling. To make an honest portrayal of what he understand this world to be. I hope he has felt he has succeeded several times. Not that success is the one and only measure of a life and a work. The work itself, the effort put into it counts too. I should know.
In 1945, while watching a film, Giacometti reports an equally important influence that prompted not only a change in his perception, but also made him “want to try to represent what [he] saw.”34 As he watched a film in a Parisian movie theatre, instead of recognizing the forms and shapes on the screen, he saw “only black and white specks shifting on a flat surface.35 The film, he realized, was only an imitation of three-dimensionality.36 When he turned to other members of the audience, he saw the same two-dimensionality, realizing that his “vision of the world had been photographic, as it had been for almost everybody, and that a photograph. . .cannot truly convey reality. His perception was totally altered, punctuated by the knowledge that until then, he had not experienced this reality. Having experienced both the photographic perception that most people possess, as well as a perceptual revelation that awakened a “truer” reality, Giacometti sought thereafter to convey his new way of viewing the world. His aesthetic was to represent his own reality.
Giacometti recognized the need to base his work in physicality, but also to convey what he came to understand as a unique visual method. His overarching goal was to find the most essential truth in the human, and to make use of outer appearances to convey that special truth. His search for truth, which he defined as the primary project of his life, was pursued through the lens of his personal vision. Except for his Surrealist period, Giacometti worked from a model, struggling to bring to the surface the inner force he felt in the human figure. He spent extended time studying his model before he attempted to paint or sculpt him or her, and was infamous for forcing even young children to remain perfectly still in order for him to feel, through his sight, their interiors. His gaze was so scrutinizing that one sitter described it as veritably tangible force, as if “Giacometti’s hands were actually touching his face.”
I picked only a few photos i found while searching the internet. Larger ones. And mostly paintings and drawings. One sculpture: a woman, standing. I like that one.
The books i have