‘a platform for production, presentation and artistic debate’
2 July. On one of the hottest days of the year we boarded IC 146 Berlin – Hannover – Amersfoort – Utrecht Centraal – Den Haag, an old train. The air conditioning began to fail somewhere before Hannover. Staff brought boxes of bottled water and moved us from one carriage to another. Later as it became apparent it wasn’t an isolated carriage without a/c, the system packed up altogether and getting hotter and going ever more slowly we eventually came to a stop at Rheine, where a sorry mass of confused people evacuated the train and were left wondering what to do. Inundated booking office staff stamped forms and issued refund notices. Our new ticket showed an alternative route and we eventually boarded a train, running too late it seemed, for the scheduled change at Duisburg but a tannoy suggestion for Oberhausen worked out and we arrived in The Hague at 20.52. Three and a half hours late, with the exceptional heat behind us we settled down to supper with Jessy Rahman and Marlies Adriaanse, many thanks to them both and others at Quartair who helped to make the weekend a success.
Quartair was founded in 1992 as a non-profit organisation by a group of young artist graduates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. It is one of the longest running artist-run-spaces in the city. Built in the early 20th Century as The Hague bread factory, the building, an enormous bakery, was squatted by artists who were later awarded a substantial part of the space by the municipal council. Renovated in 2010 Quartair currently houses 12 artists studios and a 200 m2 gallery.
3,4,5, July. The Difference Screen weekend was supported by Quartair as part of an on going initiative for exhibitions, projects and exchanges with artists and artist-run-spaces. Projected works installed in the gallery preceded three evening programmes. These began on Friday with Identity including the internet and social media as tools for change an international programme introduced by Bruce Allan and Ben Eastop. Saturday continued with a programme from the Netherlands entitled I’m a stranger here myself presented by curator and theorist Albert Wullfers. Sunday evening concluded with Humour and Survival in Adversity four recent films from the Republic of Georgia.
Al Hissan – The Jenin Horse Thomas Kilpper
Many of Quartair’s long standing supporters came to see the films – we need not have been concerned that sunshine would keep them away. They included Rosh Abdelfatah director of the Arab Camera Festival, who brought Hassouna Mansouri from Rotterdam. Rosh is from Damascus, Syria, Hassouna a Dutch film critic and writer born in Tunisia. Nico Bunnik and Andre Bijma from the film initiative Filmstad The Hague saw the set up at as having potential for the future. Paul Donker Duyvis joined us from Amsterdam. Many people stayed after the screenings to discuss what they had seen.
The Israeli journalist Amira Hass who travelled to Ramallah with The Jenin Horse has recently written “Let me be blunt: Gaza is a Huge Concentration Camp” http://www.eutopiainstitute.org/2015/07/amira-hass-let-me-be-blunt-gaza-is-a-huge-concentration-camp/
The Hague is a very beautiful and open city with wide streets, trees, canals and North Sea beaches 15 minutes from the centre. Everyone cycles in Holland, bicycles are second nature to the Dutch as horses are to Mongolians.
with Paul and Jessy on a Saturday afternoon bike ride to the beach
The huge dunes on this coast are notable for two panoramic works. The Panorama Mesdag painted in 1880 by Hendrik Willem Mesdag a notable marine painter of the Hague School, and Celestial Vault / Panorama in the dunes by James Turrell 1996.
Thinking of difference as a sometimes driver of extreme intolerance, The Hague is also synonymous with international law, peace and diplomacy. It is home to the International Court of Justice, the only legal body of the United Nations outside New York.