Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Het is alweer een paar weken geleden, maar de beelden schieten nog steeds door mijn hoofd. Het enorme podium, de gekte van Defoe, die zich inleeft in het verhaal dat hij vertelt, terwijl de beelden naast en achter hem aan het publiek voorbij trekken, de strakke blik van Marina, wanneer ze haar moeder speelt en natuurlijk, natuurlijk, Antony, die in een prachtig gewaad letterlijk voor me stond waardoor de rest van Carre leek te verdwijnen en hij alleen voor mij zong. Vooraf wist ik van de hype. Ik had gehoord over de run op kaarten, en besloot niet mee te doen. Ik kende die hele Abramovic niet echt, en voor zo'n bedrag hoefde ik haar ook niet te leren kennen. Tot de mogelijkheid zich voordeed om voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rang te zitten. En ik letterlijk voor het podium zat en het geweld aan beelden, teksten en muziek over me heen liet komen. Toen begreep ik de hype die door Amsterdam zoemde. En na afloop wilde ik meer. Meer Marina, meer verhalen. Met dank aan Holland Doc kreeg ik meer. Profiel besteedde een hele aflevering aan haar project Meet the artiest, waarin ze drie maanden lang in Moma voor zich uit staarde, en keek naar de personen die tegenover haar plaats namen. Het verhaal kende ik, en ook de ontroering van de bezoekers. Maar ik begreep het niet. Pas toen ik haar zag, en haar performance, en de mensen die allen op hun eigen manier terug keken. Toen begreep ik het. En zat ik met tranen in mijn ogen naar de televisie te kijken. Sterker nog, ik huilde. Net als de mensen tegenover haar. Net als zijzelf soms. Hoewel ik al weken mijn best doe om uit te zoeken wat het nou precies is dat zo ontroert, kom ik niet op de juiste beschrijving. Maar waarschijnlijk is het precies dat: er zijn geen woorden voor, en daarom ontroert het. Zo hoort kunst te zijn.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Train 2

On the second day, I'm having breakfast in the observation car. Opposite of me sits a man who first only throws me some looks but finally starts a conversation. When I tell him I'm from Amsterdam, he nods: "You all speak English in Denmark, right?" I nod too. We talk about the surroundings, where he grew up in. Then, the blogger from last night joins us. He takes pictures of everything that can be seen. I try to help him and point out other photo moments.

Then a guy from New York joins us. He carries several cans with vegan food. The conversation switches to food and what is healthy to eat. The guy is a raw-follower, he only eats food that hasn't been heated over 40 degrees celsius. The man from Denver keeps repeating that humans are carnivores. "Cows eat gras, we eat cows, why not cut out the middle man," the Raw guy says. I keep quiet.

We start talking about cars, and all three guys find a mutual interest. The carnivore shows us pictures of his seven cars. Flashy colors, a lot of convertables and of course all made in America. One of the pictures is of a real American pick-up truck, taken from down below, with the Stars and Stripes waving over it. "A real American car, the American flag, taken on the fouth of July," he says, full of pride. I ask him if he's a patriot. "Very much," he answers. The Raw guy and the blogger look at all the pictures and keep saying: "that is so sick!". The carnivore looks up: "Is that something bad?" he asks.
The others tell him that it means it's very cool.

 In one of the short breaks, I'm standing outside on the platform, catching some fresh air. Then, Ben starts talking to me. He is as high as my waist, has a crooked face and wears clothes that remind me of the Little House on the Prairie. He's from Pensilvania and is Amish. This is the first time he travels by himself to the west coast. Normally, his wife travels with him, but since their garden needs to be harvested these days, she decided to stay home this time. He tells me he wanted to talk to me on our way to Chicago, because he likes to talk to tourists. He and his wife even started a small B&B, to accommodate visitors to the Amish area. He talks about his family - he has six children - and his life style. " I love to meet people with different life styles, because I always learn new thugs," he says. I ask him how hard it is to hold on to their way of living, with all the new techniques forcing themselves into our society. He answers that he likes the piece and quiet. "I see all these people on th train using electronic devices. But I like looking outside and talk to people."

Later, I'm writing on my laptop when Ben passes me and gives me a friendly pad on my shoulder.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The guy who at first had put his bags in the chairs behind us, starts talking to us and says he wants to sit next to a nice girl. "You seem nice, but I think you'e a couple," he says to me and walks away. Ten minutes later, he reappears, moves his bags and sits in the chairs next to us. He starts to make phone calls. With two phones. At the same time. He's on his way to Oakland, to do some course. His name is Terrence.

In the observation car, which has big windows and relaxing couches, is Randy, who's wearing sunglasses both on his nose and on his forehead. He wears a black shirt which says in glitter letters I love Soho. He talks to everyone who sits near him about his adventure in some hotel where he got to stay for free and got a free breakfast on top of it, about his job as a truck driver and stand-up comedian and about his girl friend, who just left him but who he still loves so much. Then, he pulls out a pork shop out of a paper bag and starts eating it while starting up a new conversation with other people. 

Opposite me, a guy with long hair is working like a madman on his laptop. Every three minutes, he grabs his camera to take pictures from the landscape. The train moves too fast, his pictures are moved. He pulls his hair and shakes his head. Then he disappears behind his computer again and starts writing on his blog.

One table further sits Alex, who just pulled up his shirt to show the dj who is also going to Burning Man and Randy his scars from Vietnam. They talk about the murder on Kennedy, Michelle Obama, the current political situation and the politics that kept the Bush family in power. Terrence joins the conversation and talks about his experiences in Iraq. He's been there five times.

Next to me, a nice looking, middle aged, couple sits down. They look at the guys in front of us and softy talk to each other. Then Randy walks up to them and starts talking. When he bursts out in a song, they quickly get up and give me a friendly nod while they leave. We have been traveling for an hour. Fifty two more to go.