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Daniel Bertina

/// Freelance cultural journalist, critic, writer and dramatist. Omnivore with a love of art, culture & media in all unfathomable gradations between obscure underground and wildly commercial mainstream. Also works for Het Parool and VPRO. And trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

'A lot of art is too much about pleasing'

It started with an email out of the blue. Artist Joncquil had Googled my website and was struck by the name. I myself had almost forgotten how I had ever come up with the name, Joy of Irony: a song by the legendary, highly underrated English noise/metal band Fudge Tunnel. Joncquil came to my site because of his expo at the time, Himmel und Joy. He had read some of my pieces and introduced himself. Maybe one day we could have coffee to talk a bit about art.

Thus it happened.

Blogging vs demons #wu13

"We don't use social media because it's cool," says Tunisian internet activist Sami Ben Gharbia. "But in a dictatorship, it is the only way to inform people about what is really going on. To fight the demons in society. I am not a techny Became because it's fun. I just needed useful knowledge about internet codes, to improve my civic activism possible."

'For me, only the text exists' - Alberto Manguel & Hans Goedkoop on black pages #wu13

With a jam-packed programme like Writers Unlimited 2013, it sometimes happens that, even as a professional journalist, despite everything, you end up dropping in somewhere too late, and then just catching a glimpse of something really great. In this case, after the tour de force of Amos Oz and Adriaan van Dis, was that Kenyan Ngwatilo Mawiyoo's spoken word performance. Mea culpa for that.

A lot of Oz & a little Van Dis on impossible dreams and ideals #wu13

During the kick-off of Winternacht 1, publicist Bas Heijne brought the two literary giants Amos Oz and Adriaan van Dis closer together. What remains of their former idealism? Oz's barrage of wonderful one-liners proved difficult to tame and made for a hilarious but somewhat unbalanced conversation.

Death Grips is 20 min of breathtaking frenzy

The experimental hip-hop / noise band Death Grips plays frothy twang noise. But very exciting, interesting branch noise with paranoid, surreal lyrics. Live, it was a breath of fresh air. In their concert in Bittersweet (presented by Paradiso), vocalist MC Ride (Stefan Burnett) and drummer Zach Hill unleash a 20-minute hurricane of breathtaking fury.

Artists paint artists in 'We, the Artists'

Unruly Gallery, a tiny underground art gallery on Amsterdam's Cliffordstraat, presents the group exhibition We, the Artists. Featuring portraits of artists created by other artists. How self-referential do you want it to be? Very worthwhile nonetheless. Unruly Gallery is one of the few artist-run galleries in Amsterdam with a refreshing do-it-yourself attitude. The gallery was set up by Niels Meulman and Adele... 

Nobody likes a critic

Al YouTubesurfend stuitte ik op deze messcherpe sketches van Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Afkomstig uit de hoogtijdagen van hun geniale programma A Bit Of Fry & Laurie. Bij het zien van deze prachtig gepersifleerde windbuilerij, overviel me het akelige gevoel dat er sinds de uitzending van  deze sketch verdomd weinig is veranderd in de mentaliteit van de kunstcritici. De zelfgenoegzaamheid ligt altijd op de loer.

In Accordion Wrestling, 10 Finnish wrestlers compete with 1 accordion player. The weirdest show on #hf12

One by one, Helsinki Nelson's wrestlers come running onto the stage of the City Theatre. On the mat is the biggest of the bunch, lying on his stomach, stretched out in a defensive position. Alternately, his opponent tries to tip him, pushing him flat on the mat with both his shoulders. In vain. Accordion punk rocker Kommi Pohjonen comes on, and... 

With her heavenly voice, Shara Worden seems to transcend time and space #hf12

Shara Worden bounces lithely across the Bimhuis stage, dressed in a weird, multicoloured fairy outfit with plush balls. And she sings the stars from heaven, with insane timing and agility. Her heavenly voice seems to dance with amazing dynamics. From frighteningly subtle and rarefied, from warm and deeply resonant to shuddering high notes at hurricane force. She... 

#hf12 Shara Worden speaks about All Things Will Unwind. And sings a new song

Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Shara Worden – also known as My Brightest Diamond – is waiting for me, armed with her ukelele. Just before the interview, she wrote a new song. Worden laughs: “There are way too many videos on the internet of me playing the same songs over and over. I thought I should try something new.” De Dodo was there… 

Nearly dies Wunderbaum's Detroit Dealers from an overdose of ideas, but survives through unexpected musicality #HF12

In Detroit Dealers, Wunderbaum mixes a personal family story with the decline of Detroit, once one of the most influential industrial cities in the world, and philosophical musings on the car, as a romantic metaphor of progress and the American Dream. The show swings in all directions. Detroit Dealers is part documentary film, jazz concert, performance, spoken word poetry, rap battle, and theatre. This overdose of... 

In the wonderfully subtle The Speaker's Progress, Shakespeare's farce suddenly becomes a revolutionary weapon #hf12

Tight-lipped. Freshly cut. And with a beatific, apt voice, The Speaker - played by director Sulayman Al-Bassam - looks like a slick public relations man. Or better: a civilised Arab dictator with an Oxford degree. One of those who is supported by the West and deeply hated by his own people. He steps behind a lectern and narrates. Once upon a time,... 

Survive the carnage, smeared nudity and frenzied screams in Requiem 3, and note the moving lyrics #hf12

Vincent Macaigne strikes me as a director you shouldn't fight with. Right from the first seconds of Requiem 3, he rams full steam ahead with the most hysterical opening scene I have seen in ages, and keeps on hacking relentlessly for 80 minutes. It takes a while to get through. But suddenly, in this tsunami of... 

Zwischenfälle is a breathtaking barrage of 54 hilarious, short scenes about clumsy humans. You rarely see it this virtuoso #hf12

Two men are sitting together at a table eating spaghetti. One is wolfing down the plate of pasta in no time, while at the same time telling an amusing anecdote - just barely intelligible - with fierce gestures and self-righteous grunts. The other, an elderly guy, is totally ignored. Despite frantic attempts, the poor man just cannot manage to... 

Soul Seek is the world's first internet opera. With a nod to Mulholland Drive.

"For me, opera is much more than just music," says Israeli director Sjaron Minailo. "It may sound a bit pompous, but my internet opera is completely in the tradition of Richard Wagner. Soul Seek is really a multimedia gesamtkunstwerk, in which fashion, web design and digital media, play, cinema, theatre, dance and experimental music merge into one. Without one element... 

The Young Makers Marathon: from the beautifully absurd Parkin'son to the claustrophobia of Cow's Theory

The Young Makers Marathon For Your Eyes Only at Springdance features performances by students from the influential dance academies School for New Dance Development (The Netherlands) and P.A.R.T.S. (Belgium). I had the pleaure to see two of them. Cow's Theory by Cecila Lisa Eliceche (P.A.R.T.S.) is a hyperintense piece of contact dance. Three female performers move at super slow pace,... 

Fragmentary first choreography by artist Martin Creed is non-committal, sketchy and lacks tension

"We've been working on some songs and dances," says visual artist Martin Creed, assisted by his five-piece band and five ballet dancers. In his fragmentary performance, Creed explores the relationships between the five basic positions from classical ballet, the bouncy off-beat rhythms of his post-rock band, and Creed's own video art. This is his first choreography and it shows. "Works No.... 

In volatile and agonisingly slow "Untried Untested", childlike wonder at the laws of nature remains too distant

What is gravity? What is air? What is breath? In Untried Untested by choreographer Kate McIntosh, four women explore the magical workings of nature using simple means. They are armed with dozens of black balloons, a tangle of ship's rope, a handful of feathers, a few bags of potatoes, wind machines and fluorescent lights, a playground made of wrapping paper. And their own bodies. Unfortunately, that wonder remains... 

Pure camp with tremendous theatrical intelligence in (M)IMOSA, in which four flamboyant drag queens vie for attention

Maniacally, she gallops across the stage, stomping like Michael Flatley on crack. Gravely thin and bare-chested, Marlene Monteiro Freitas tap-dances around. She squeezes her tits and pulls handfuls of (fake) hair from her scalp. "My name is Mimosa Ferrara," she panted menacingly, as her black leggings sag off her ass and linger just above the pubic area.... 

Inertia and extreme duration make "Wild Life Take Away Station" by Ibrahim Quraishi a mysterious still life

Upon entering, Wild Life Take Away Station has been going on for four hours. Two performers - Diego Agulló and Ria Higler, a young man and an old woman - stroll through the Central Museum's project studio like drowsy zombies. They are pale and muscle-naked, except for their weird slippers and wigs. The two lie sprawled across the sofa,... 

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