Let’s make some room for bad taste.
Enter Lolo Ferrari.
Lolo Ferrari, born Eve Valois (February 9, 1968 – March 5, 2000) was the stage name of a French dancer, actress, and singer billed as “the woman with the largest breasts in the world” though their size was artificially achieved. In 1995, she caused a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival with the presentation of the movie Camping Cosmos by Jan Bucquoy.
Camping Cosmos is a comedy film by Belgian director Jan Bucquoy, starring Lolo Ferrari. We see Belgians on holiday in a trailer park at the beach in the year 1986 with the first danger signals of AIDS. The purpose of the campsite entertainer is to bring culture to the common people; but they are not interested when the play of Bertolt Brecht Mother Courage and Her Children is shown. Then he launches a beauty contest, a song contest and a boxing match
In Camping Cosmos Lolo Ferrari comes out of the sea as an Aphrodite with the song of “Land of Hope and Glory” and having her first orgasm with the comic Tintin in the Congo. The influence of Jacques Lacan is imminent: Sex is the little Death. Arno Hintjens and Jan Decleir are a homosexual couple. The protest of the younger generation (Eve and her boyfriend) supposedly refers to Traité du savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations by Raoul Vaneigem. A character cites Louis Scutenaire and détournement publicitaire à la Marcel Mariën is used. Both were Belgian surrealists.
The film is awful but aged 34 and feeling you haven’t seen everything yet and after all, you are from Belgium, and you see it anyway. You rent it a second time (you must be bored) and thankfully the video store clerk alerts you to your mistake.
Election time is upon us in Belgium. Today I tore off some extreme right election posters (see photo). An old and ugly supporter (they all are) of the particular party whose posters I was vandalizing shouted from a distance, inquiring why I was doing it. Reductive militantism, is what I decided to coin it.
For years I did not vote in a country where voting is compulsory. Since I started to vote in my mid-thirties I’ve consistently voted for immigrant women candidates, supporting two minorities at once.
Alfred Stevens expo at KMSKB
The Bath (1867) – Alfred Stevens
The Bath (1867) is a painting by Belgian artist Alfred Stevens. It depicts a woman sitting in a bathtub, having cast aside a book she was reading and who is obviously bored. In her hand she holds a pair of white roses. –Sholem Stein
De helaasheid der dingen will premier at Cannes this Saturday as La Merditude des choses.
The De helaasheid der dingen (French title: La Merditude des choses) is a 2009 film by Belgian director Felix van Groeningen (co-written by Christophe Dirickx), based on the eponymous novel by Dimitri Verhulst. The film stars Koen De Graeve, Johan Heldenbergh, Gilda De Bal, Pauline Grossen and Wouter Hendrickx.
Felix van Groeningen (1978) is a Belgian filmmaker. Van Groeningen came to the attention with his debut Steve + Sky which starred former model Delfine Bafort (his girlfriend at the time) and the Flemish actor Titus De Voogdt. He studied at the KASK in Gent and graduated in 2000. He also directed short subjects and theatrical work. In 2007 he released Dagen Zonder Lief, with An Miller and a soundtrack by Jef Neve.
His latest project is De Helaasheid der dingen (2009), is a film adaptation of De helaasheid der dingen, a novel by Dimitri Verhulst.
By Sholem Stein
The image breakers, c.1566 –1568 by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder.
Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (c.1520–c.1590) was a Flemish artist associated with the English court of the mid-16th Century and mainly remembered as the illustrator of the 1567 edition of Aesop’s Fables, De warachtighe fabulen der dieren. Gheeraerts’ style resembles that of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In his own day, Gheeraerts was particularly famous as a draughtsman of birds and animals.
Goya, Redon, Ensor. Grotesque paintings and drawings is a current exhibition at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
Goya, Redon, Ensor. Grotesque paintings and drawings is an exhibition at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp which runs from March 14 until June 14, 2009
It displays a collection of grotesque paintings, drawings and prints by Goya, Redon and Ensor. The show highlights the similarities as well as the differences between the three masters and features works from Belgian museums and private collections, complemented with loans from, among other museums, MoMA in New York, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Museo del Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery in London and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The exhibition uses KMSKA’s own collection of Ensors, one of the largest in the world as well as a rare series of etchings by Goya.
One of my fave Redons:
Final credits by Folon for Antenne 2 from 1975 to 1984
Jean-Michel Folon (March 1, 1934, Uccle, Belgium – October 20, 2005, Monaco) was a Belgian artist, illustrator, painter, and sculptor. Folon was born in Brussels in 1934 where he studied architecture. In 1955 he settled in a gardener’s house in the outskirts of Paris. During five years he drew morning, noon and night. In 1985 he moved to Monaco where he worked in a big workshop surrounded by numerous artists.
Folon celebrated the hybrid businessman/white-collar worker as much as his fellow Belgian artist Magritte did (see Magritte’s The Son of Man, a bourgeois man in a suit and the same type of fellow in this[] Folon sculpture where he is holding a briefcase).
Perhaps Folon was the last Belgian surrealist although his naive watercolor work is sui generis.
Idiots and Angels
I think he’s underrated today but his work is still of influence. Most recently there was Bill Plympton‘s Idiots and Angels of which the author acknowledges the influence of Topor, Folon (the flying men) and of Crumb.
Fabula rasa (1945) by Gaston Burssens (this edition 1964)
I am not much of a fiction reader, nor have I ever been much of a poetry reader. My favorite literature is books about books. Literary criticism or literary theory.
I make exceptions.
The best work I read last year was Michaux’s Plume which happens to be a work of prose poetry, a genre which can be traced most readily to Baudelaire and Poe. A genre which is plotless but nevertheless more concrete than pure poetry.
Saturday I bought the work above. It is worth its price for the introductory notes alone.
Gaston Burssens (Dendermonde, February 18 1896 – January 29 1965) was a Flemish poet, usually classified as an expressionist. He died age 68 in Antwerpen en was buried at the Schoonselhof cemetery. He was a member of the “Activists” and studied at the University of Ghent. He also published previously unpublished work by avant-garde poet Paul Van Ostaijen after the latter’s death.
Fabula Rasa by Flemish writer Gaston Burssens is a collection of prose poems and random notes. It is inscribed by two mottos: “Rien n’est plus grave au monde que la bêtise” (Louis XIV) en “Rien n’est plus bête au monde que la gravité” (Stendhal).
The collection was first published by De Sikkel in 1945, and went by largely unnoticed, only appreciated by such writers as Louis Paul Boon. It was augmented and republished by de Bezige Bij in 1964.
Literary critic Paul de Wispelaere reviewed it in the chapter “De groteske wereld en de wereld van de groteske,” in his collection Het Perzische Tapijt (1966). In this essay de Wispelaere juxtaposes Fabula Rasa with the paraprose of Gust Gils, another Flemish writer who wrote in the tradition of the literary grotesque. Fabula Rasa’s Belgian-French counterpart is Plume by Henri Michaux.
While researching this post I also stumbled upon prose by Flanders’ cult poet par excellence Paul Van Ostaijen: De bende van de stronk (The stump gang, 1932, grotesques). I will want a copy of that.