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The 'weird life' of all-rounder Jef Last is not over

Better to die standing than to live kneeling. The statement is fresh in memory after the murder in the Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat, as a mantra in praise of Peter R de Vries, his fearlessness, non-conformism, straightforwardness and honesty. This same statement jumps out even from the first paragraphs of the introduction to the biography of poet Jef Last, written by Rudi Wester.1.... 

Between Past and Future. Frank Scheffer films a fruitful meeting between East and West #HF21

Saturday 26 June at the Holland Festival, a special evening around two music films by Frank Scheffer: the documentary Inner Landscape and the opera film Si Fan. Supplemented by a short live performance by Chinese musician Wu Wei. This will present a musical journey from the seventh-century Tang Dynasty to contemporary electronic music. An evening with unexpected perspectives.

'My dreams were always about death.' Alfred Birney on his new novel 'On hold'

Shortly after Alfred Birney was awarded the Libris Literature Prize in 2017 for The Interpreter of Java, he ended up in hospital with a heart attack. In his new novel On Hold, Birney's alter ego Alan Noland is in hospital waiting for open-heart surgery. He was just starting to feel fit again after his five-way bypass surgery and two years of patching up... 

Bending, concrete and brown sugar: why Paulien Cornelisse can't get bored of Japan

Long before flower arranging, forest bathing and tidying up in Japanese became hype, Paulien Cornelisse was already a big fan of the country. Her new book Japan in a hundred little pieces is like a manual Japan for beginners. Her love for Japan once began with Bobby & Kate's colourful, mole-sweet-smelling eraser - similar to Hello Kitty - that... 

'Art tax cuts and a cultural fund will be created as an incentive for homeowners to invest in works of art.' (How we think the throne speech should have read)

Members of the States General, This year about 72 years ago we had the first Holland Festival. After years of enslavement and tyranny, hope for a better future literally came from above, in the form of Maria Callas. Eyewitnesses who saw the lights in the Stadsschouwburg turn red that day would never forget that image. 72 years later, it seems... 

Bring on that fair! 7 established facts that make an ever-younger festival Boulevard unique.

Theatre Festival Boulevard is a highlight of the festival summer every year. Because there are no barriers and because it carries the casual atmosphere of the city in every fibre. But it goes even further. Here are my seven learning moments: 1: Boulevard is more accessible than the city itself Some people find it verging on the hysterical, but... 

The most important animation festival takes place in Annecy - and the Netherlands participates

I described here earlier that Dutch animation film is on the rise. And as I look around the animation festival in Annecy, France, this week, it seems nice to see how our animation filmmakers and producers are presenting themselves here. Especially since Annecy is considered the most important event worldwide in this sector. 'The Cannes of animation' I hear... 

Iranian Turandot disarms with engaging music. But Puccini remains undefeated

It is quite daring. To take a classic Italian opera and give it a 'primal version'. I know a small army of militant opera critics who would prefer to take up arms against that. If that comes from Iran, you soon have the puppets dancing. To get right to the first... 

'We have become spectators rather than actors'; Philipp Blom tells performing artists on SPOT-Live what is at stake.

'We are on the brink of a new cultural revolution. We need to move away from our paradigm and art can play a role in this. Art can show us images of a different future, a different thought. Artists can help bring that realisation in.' Speaking is writer and journalist Philipp Blom. In 2017, his... 

Buying a carton of milk in Venice? Forget it. Writer Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer on his new novel and the future of Europe

'Caffè e acqua frizzante, per favore.' Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer orders a coffee and water from the waitress of bar 28 Erbe. It's late morning and the terrace in Piazza dell' Erbe, a stone's throw from the palazzo where the writer lives, is slowly starting to get a bit busier. Pfeijffer has now been living in the... 

Anna Enquist: 'I would like to be able to be a bit angrier'

Because Evening, Anna Enquist's new novel, is a book full of pent-up exasperation and anger. Never before has she written so freely as with this book, without knowing where the story was going. "I would like to be able to be a bit angrier myself." After the poetry collection Hoor de staden and her memories of Gerrit Kouwenaar, A Garden in the... 

Rainer Hofmann (SPRING): 'After the populist attack from the right, the performing arts now face an attack from the left.'

Thursday 17 May opens SPRING Performing Arts Festival in Utrecht with, among others, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi by Dries Verhoeven and to come (extended) by Mette Ingvartsen. Over ten days, over twenty-five international dance and theatre productions, installations and performance works will be on show in public spaces and urban environments. A week earlier, festival director Rainer Hofmann looks relaxed. 'Until now... 

Composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas: 'Music has no nationality'

The most recent achievement of Russian-Swedish composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas (b. 1969) is Dracula. This opera based on Bram Stoker's book of the same name premiered at Royal Opera Stockholm in October 2017. A 'colourful and highly atmospheric musical score', it included 'one of the most emotional scenes in the history of Swedish opera', wrote one critic. Seven years earlier,... 

IDFA 2017: digital pioneer Jonathan Harris switches to analogue

With a 500-million-year-old pebble, Jonathan Harris began his lecture. IDFA presents the first international retrospective of this artist. As IDFA's chief guest, Harris gave the 'Master Talk' on Friday, about his life and work. His remarkably analogue vision was also the common thread during Sunday's well-attended DocLab conference. Fundamentally analogue Harris, who once started out in computer science... 

Five weeks of Bambie in Utrecht? Could just be the way to a more diverse culture

Speaking of diversity, within the dominantly white theatre audience, it is also full of bubbles. Over the past two weeks, for instance, I have just let it dawn on me how little overlap there is between the audiences of the two art theatres in my city, Utrecht. At least: for a while I sort of immersed myself in the world of... 

So you'll never leave Den Bosch again (why holidays in your own country can be fun)

Would like your interpretation of the cover girl's look on the Theatre Festival Boulevard programme book. It may be projection, but I see a slightly overwhelmed desperation in those eyes, whose eyebrows have been replaced by two playfully placed arches of St John's, above: Den Bosch on my mind. Where to start, mostly. In the book, especially abundance. Glassily designed... 

This is guaranteed to make you happy. How artist collective toyism has continued to surprise for 25 years

They have been around for 25 years but are buzzing as if they were founded yesterday. With the creation of a work of art at Eelde airport - to be followed live from today - as well as exhibitions at 25 locations in and around Groningen, the artists of the international artists' collective toyism are celebrating their anniversary. The artists of toyism in Iceland ©Marc Brester/AQM Quirky, original and committed are... 

Jordi Lammers, or: the secret miracle of a Utrecht Literature Festival #ILFU17

And then there turns out to be a festival theme after all. Comes all by itself. Perhaps not thought of beforehand by the management of the International Literature Festival Utrecht (ILFU), but after three days of immersion crystal clear. Writing is about that about which we do not speak. During the last festival night, Saturday 13 May, I immersed myself for the occasion in a section that allows 'Utrecht' to... 

Necessary and wonderful glimpse into the Chinese soul thanks to Utrecht festival #ILFU17

Good timing by the International Literature Festival Utrecht (ILFU) to put China at the centre of this year's edition. Just in time before the Chinese have connected the Betuwelijn to their own railway network on their own initiative, with their well-known decisiveness. High time to get to know the Chinese soul, it seems to me, and that does not succeed immediately.... 

Lesson 1 of a Literature Festival: translators are really nice people. #ILFU17

Dutch, ladies and gentlemen, is just about the most difficult language in the world, and any committee that wants to improve it only makes it worse. As a professional language user, I have thought so for years, and it has now been happily confirmed by people who really know about it: translators. The first day of the International Literature Festival Utrecht (ILFU)... 

5 hidden gems in Holland's top literature festival #ILFU

Of course: Hugo Borst, Suzanne Vega, Herman Koch. Enough reason to travel to Utrecht between 11 and 13 May. But there is much more to experience at the International Literature Festival Utrecht. And it doesn't even always have to do with books. I will show you a few things I am definitely looking forward to in festival palace TivoliVredenburg. The... 

Ascent, Fiona Tan, video artwork of cinematic allure

Fiona Tan delivers a feature-length video artwork with Ascent

The video artwork 'Ascent' is one of Fiona Tan's most recent works. Ascent is a feature-length video artwork: 1 hour and 17 minutes[ref]A work resulting from a special commission from the Izu Photo Museum in Japan[/ref]. You may already be familiar with this artist's work[ref]The now 50-year-old Fiona Tan is "no ordinary Indian girl", born in Pekan... 

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