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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.

'It felt a bit like the first time sex: way too direct, rushed, overactive and largely based on insecurity': Ivo Dimchev in battle with Franz West's wearable art

"What the fuck should I do with this?" was choreographer and performance artist Ivo Dimchev's (1976) first thought when confronted with the artworks of Austrian artist Franz West. After Dimchev's solo performance Some Faves (2010) in Vienna, West, a multi-awarded creator of bizarre sculptures and objects, sought contact with the choreographer. He asked him to make an improvised video based on his... 

'Sometimes the desire not to be seen turns into an excess of exhibitionism.' - Yasmeen Godder on The Toxic Exotic Disappearance Act

She has been busy. Highly pregnant, Yasmeen Godder (Jerusalem, 1973) worked on her first choreography for Batsheva Dance Company. In a month, she stomped out her new show The Toxic Exotic Disappearance Act under the wings of Batsheva, and in between gave birth to a healthy daughter. For the third time, Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder presents her work... 

From insane Moroccan drum 'n bass to alienating dream sounds: Dakka al Marrakchia, Zoumana Diarra & Basile Maneka #WU12

It is incredible what an energy the men of Manar can generate. These six - dressed in djellabas - percussionists play Dekka al Marrakchia: an insanely rousing form of traditional Moroccan drum 'n bass party music and religious Gnawa. After a solemn, almost ritualistic beginning - in which the band comes jogging onto the stage of the Theater aan het Spui in a goose-step, accompanied by the menacing sounds of two huge horns - the drums erupt and the dance floor is full of swinging visitors.

Column: State of Indulgence by Patrick van der Hijden, opening debate Burger King & Citizenship

In the debate Burger King & Citizenship give Patrick van der HijdenDavid van Reybrouck, Chris Keulemans and Samuel Vriezen Their views on the state of the citizen. Public may, but need not, participate. Below is the column State of Indulgence, recited by Patrick van der Hijden - as a kick-off to the debate.

"Our life was invented in the 18th century.

Members of the upper classes - the elite - had their own homes, often with gardens. They sent their children to school, which then started further education. They had free time and generally arrived at their appointments on time, due to the watches they wore and the train barges that left on time (they complained when delayed). Citizens who lived outside the city commuted - by carriage, that is. They drank coffee to stay awake. They visited restaurants with menus. They were vaccinated against smallpox and had pets. A great source on that life is the diary of Otto van Eck, who started it at the age of 10 under pressure from his Enlightenment-obsessed parents, in 1791. I borrow the above examples from that.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, this life is not lived by a small minority, but by a large part of the Dutch population. These do have to do without staff. That, in fact, has been replaced by technology.

Hearing sober prophet of doom John Gray speak is always a relief #WU12

In the late 1980s, John N. Gray (South Shields, 1948) adviser to Margaret Thatcher - Gray: "I was just a small mote of dust in her administration" - now he is a fierce critic of all things neoconservative. On Writers Unlimited, publicist Bas Heijne felt him out.

In How to be a dictator in Africa, writers Helon Habila and Dinaw Mengestu are remarkably positive about the future of their continent, despite the reservations of David van Reybrouck and moderator Andrew Makkinga.

Dinaw Mengestu shares his surname with the first name of one of Ethiopia's former dictators. "For now, I am a writer, but aspire to a career as a dictator," he says. Dictators do not arise in a vacuum, Mengestu argues. "We as citizens create our leaders," he says. In his recited story, citizens hand over all their dreams. They shift all their responsibility towards those in power. And. 

La Fin Du Western is screaming, stomping and spitting tirade against the absurd power struggle in Ivory Coast #dekeuze

"I love westerns," says one of the African players. "Because you always know how they end. Clearly. With only one winner." On the playing floor are four smoothly twirling, stomping dancing, trained performers from the Ivory Coast. They are a stark contrast to their co-stars: two lumbering, yoghurt-pale and uncoordinated German actors. The Africans speak French, the Germans mostly English. The... 

"Talkshow" by artist Miet Warlop and film scholar Hilde D'haeyere is an overly noncommittal slapstick collage #dekeuze

She bends over. A huge wooden shot thunders over film scientist Hilde D'haeyere around and smashes against the playing floor. She stays alive through a recess in the wood. Unperturbed, she springs up and continues reading from her essay: a scholarly treatise on function of slapstick in the silent films of Charlie Chapin and Buster Keaton, as well as in the work of visual artist cum theatre maker Miet Warlop.

Ingmar Bergman becomes opera at Grachtenfestival

Amsterdam, 1999. Studying Theatre Science, first-year theatre analysis class. I sit with notepad and pen clutched in fingers, making indecipherable notes. Halfway through the lecture, Sjaron Minailo (Tel Aviv, 1979) saunters in, dressed in a huge fur coat, with big Gucci sunglasses and dreadlocks. With a sigh, he plops into the back lecture bench, hears three sentences of the disrupted lecturer's speech 

#HF11: With The School for Scandal, Deborah Warner gives a gleeful kick to an arch-conservative theatre tradition. The British are not amused.

Photo: Neil Libbert

That was a bit of a grind for British theatre critics. The celebrated director Deborah Warner (1959) recently pulled Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal out of the closet. A play from 1777, and an untouchable part of the British theatre canon. Building on the style of her earlier production Mother Courage (2009) Warner also indicated The School for Scandal - goddamn - a quirky, contemporary twist.


"With many video, light, music and noise - like a rock concert, " grins Warner in the office of the Barbican Theatre In London. "Mother Courage had an incredibly populist, exciting atmosphere. I love that arrogant theatricality immensely, and I wanted to continue that style in The School for Scandal. For me, the big challenge was to explore the Brechtian theatre style of Weimar - which I got through Mother Courage had discovered again - to collide with an eighteenth-century theatre text."

Via Intolleranza II is an irresistibly witty theatrical chaos about the construction of an opera village.

photo: Aino Laberenz

De vorig jaar aan longkanker overleden Künstler Christoph Schlingensief – alleskunner, provocateur, regisseur, levenskunstenaar – krijgt op het Holland Festival een uitgebreid eerbetoon: de openingsvoorstelling Mea Culpa, een programma met zeven speelfilms, en Schlingensiefs zwanenzang Via Intolleranza II.

Doodziek vatte Christoph Schlingensief het wilde plan op om in Burkina Faso een operadorp uit de grond te stampen, Remdoogo. Een zelfvoorzienende vrijplaats waar mensen vanuit verschillende culturen elkaar zouden kunnen ontmoeten, en om daar voor langere tijd samen kunst te maken. Dit in navolging van vergelijkbare initiatieven zoals het Avenida Theater in Mozambique, opgezet door schrijver Henning Mankell. Schlingensief streefde naar het samenvloeien van kunst en leven. Gedreven uit een jarenlange fascinatie voor de rijke Afrikaanse cultuur, en geïnspireerd op de idealen van zijn grote held Joseph Beuys.

Via Intolleranza II is Schlingensiefs poging om in een maalstroom van documentaire, muziek, beeldende kunst, film, performancekunst, lezing, opera en theater het prille wordingsproces van Remdoogo vast te leggen. Een voorstelling over een proces. Tegelijkertijd lijkt Schlingensief ook zijn eigen motieven te bevragen. Via Intolleranza II was zijn zwanenzang – hij stierf drie maanden na de première. De voorstelling krijgt op zaterdag 4 juni de Nederlandse première.

Eugénie Rebetez shows the alienating contrast of a woman who wants to be more and is also at peace with who she is

Eugénie Rebetez in 'Gina'. Photo: Augustin Rebetez.

Her full thighs clatter together. She shakes her bare arms, grinning at the trembling skin on her upper arms. She stomps furiously across the Theatre Kikker's playing floor, while her hefty body - dressed in a small, nondisguising black dress - emphatically bounces happily on all sides. You just have to dare. In her one-woman show 'Gina', Swiss theatre maker Eugénie Rebetez beyond all embarrassment. In the skin of Gina, Rebetez shows her own yearning for stardom, with plenty of self-mockery and absurdist humour. A quirky mishmash of mime, stand-up comedy, cabaret and contemporary dance.

Yasmeen Godder lets contrast between frightened individual and roaring group animal linger too much in dancers' minds

Dancers by Yasmeen Godder - photo Itzik Giuli

She is on her knees. Shaking and trembling, she jerks backwards. With clawed fingers that seem to grasp at the void. Like a frightened cat. Shuffling, the dancer moves backwards in a semicircle on the white stage floor of Theatre Frog. One by one, the five others step onto the empty open stage, while the first dancer keeps looking anxiously at the audience. Thus begins 'Storm end come'. With this performance, Israeli choreographer Yasmeen Godder shows the overwhelming effects of fear on the bodies of her dancers. But it doesn't really get scary.

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