In search of interim time on the IJssel

Fennanda Eleveld works from Bakkum, North Holland, close to the sea, clouds and space. In the attic of an old bulb shed surrounded by this landscape, she can work on her paintings and collages in peace and quiet. Fennanda embraces poetry in her work. She loves the landscape that reminds us of who we are and she loves telling stories. In recent years, she has created picture books in small editions. She regularly exhibits her work, preferably in unusual locations. From June 19 to July 9, 2022, she was Artist-in-Residence at the Kunstgemaal in Bronkhorst, on the river IJssel, for Fennanda the other side of the country. There she worked on images for the book The Other Side, a book about being a twin.

"Our world is particularly poor in interruptions, in in-between space and in-between time.
as Korean German philosopher Byung-Chul Han signals (...)
Joke Hermsen hopes for a revival of Kairos,
the subjective, dynamic and qualitative moment that can lead to change of insight."

(Quotes taken from About Us/Mission Kunstgemaal Bronkhorst)


Byung- Chul Han's book quoted above: The tired society, the backtimes of Eros, was given to me two years ago as a gift from my son, who is studying philosophy in Amsterdam. The book is thought-provoking and activates seeing the Other and looking forward to slowing down. It describes the problems in our performance-oriented world. The concept Kairos (from Joke Hermsen's book of the same name) was also adopted by me, as an important condition for creativity and attention.

When my gaze fell on this place on the river IJssel, things came together and I knew: this is where I need to be for rest and reflection. During my stay at the Kunstgemaal I found the space and focus to work on the book The Other Side work: a joint project, which I had started a year earlier with my twin sister Wilma Eleveld. In images, dialogues and poetry, we - as visual artists and poets - illuminate our twinhood in a specially designed book. The book is a poetic investigation into the dynamics and connection between twin sisters and reflects the longing for we and seeing I and you in the dynamics between people in general and twins in particular.

A place for reflection

Below is how I look back on the poetic and creative process of making this book, which was published in a small edition in October 2022. Using diary entries, I describe my stay at the Kunstgemaal and how the book saw the light of day and was recently presented in an exhibition in the auditorium of the Henriette Polak Museum in Zutphen.

We are writing the summer month of June/July 2022. My temporary home for three weeks is part of the former service house of pumping station Grote Beek near Bronkhorst. The pumping station is a beautiful municipal monument from 1953 in the middle of the beautiful IJssel landscape. It is a place for contemplation.

The Other Side, in search of imagination

Three weeks I am here. I work on the book. I draw, I paint I cut out and compose the images. My sister Wilma writes the poetry, at home in Warnsveld not far from here. What we explore is personal and our own, but turns out to be mirrored in the universal human desire for connection and the pursuit of wholeness. I put the finishing touches on images here on the IJssel River with my sister's poems in my head. Around me is the Dutch endless light reflected by the IJssel. Storks skim along the horizon and land on meadow opposite the Kunstgemaal.

The weather is hot. Work progresses slowly in the summer heat. I make a daily schedule: in the morning I get up very early and take advantage of the morning chill. Then breakfast at the picnic tables in front of the house overlooking the IJssel River. The low, wide floodplain that ends in the river. Then walking or biking, trying to find Kairos. In the early morning there is the mist over the water and the sound of a barge passing by. Cyclists wandering the levee, finding their way. Light summer clothes and snatches of conversation flying by.

I am looking for imagination in which personal experiences and thoughts transform into iconic images. I look back on my role as a sister, letting go of old self-imposed patterns. The sun burns on the flat roof of what is temporarily my shelter. The living room becomes a studio, the round table strewn with pieces of painted and cut cardboard that form the ingredients for my collages. On the floor I place the assembled images and I shuffle and look. Does the work look back? The graceful birch beside the pumping station offers filtered, moving light and shadows. Around and within me is a silence that is full of life.

She chooses the left and disappears
in the hilly countryside.
On the path to her right, her sister wanders
With backpack and compass.
See them slew perceptive.
See them squatting on their path.
See how their hands tenderly
include the heart shells.
See how those movements reflect them.
See how flying up makes them travel companions.
See them possibly smoothing something over before
they disappear into that nest.
How they hit it; view of space and the path
In that immodest sphere.

(Poem: Wilma Eleveld from the collection The Other Side)


We are stories

I walk daily through the small poetic forest behind the pumping station. It is cool and green and history is palpable. Once there was a castle on top of the hill. As I shape my own story and the images for the book slowly progress, I fill my eyes with the landscape around me. In the morning, I wander along the river. I follow its meandering course. The river is within us.

I walk along the dike that borders the floodplain. The old Achterhoek farmer having a small conversation with me about his sick wife. The playing child frolicking after his father along the stream behind the house while father takes pictures with his smartphone. The garbage collector who scurries down the dike every morning in swift footsteps with a garbage scraper in her hand. The observer in me observes. Working on my own story brings me to other stories.

The Other Side appears

Slowly my own story gets The Other Lace on the IJssel a foundation and becomes a new story. One day my sister comes to visit me and I show her what I am making. The poet's words find my images and the artist's images find her words. The idea arises for a leporello as a pre-publication on the book.

When I travel back to my home on the Other Side of the country on July 9, 2022, I will have collected a folder full of images. We give each other until October 26 (our date of birth) to work on the book together. We consult with Manja van der Storm who is taking care of the design and we find a printer. The book will be published on 22-10-2022 in an edition of 200 copies. On November 13, 2022, we hold a festive book presentation in Amsterdam. Where else could it be but in the Mandela House (located on the IJ) where from the Ubuntuged connection is celebrated?

From February 24, 2023 - April 4, 2023, images and poetry from the book were displayed in a silent exhibition in the auditorium of the Henriette Polak Museum in Zutphen as the crowning glory of our work.

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