Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

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17th Century Dutch Humor and What Hid Behind an Apparently Inoffensive Bush

The truth always prevails my dears, that’s what I have to tell you! They tried to cover it up in this 1643 Isack van Ostade’s A Village Fair with a Church Behind painting, and they painted a bush on top of it. But 100 years later, curators spotted the fake, took it off, and revealed the true “artist’s intentions”: a pooper with a dog looking at him. In 1903 when the bush was painted on top of this shameless little fellow, it seemed more appropriate to go about doing such business in a bush I guess. But in the 16th and 17th century this kind of potty jokes in art were apparently quite popular. You don’t have to be a high-brow art lover to appreciate old Dutch paintings, you can also be a ‘Where is Wally?‘ fan and spot for the twist behind them.

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The Idiot Box: a Touching Photo Series of Kids Watching TV Said to Point at Something It Doesn’t Really Point At

This photo series has been circulating around the web recently. It has been described as a series portraying children’s vacant stares at the TV, but honestly they don’t look so vacant to me. Instead, they look absorbed. Completely absorbed, the kind of surrender only kids can express. And while the series has been used to open up the never ending talks and questions regarding too much technology – to which we never seem to find an answer or at least not one that we’d like to adjust our life to – I loved these photos for completely different reasons. Photographer Donna Lee Stevens named the series ‘Idiot Box’, but to me the name doesn’t suit the photos.

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Medieval Emoticons: the Delights of Seeing Art from Long Ago in a (Funny) New Light

I’m a big fan of medieval art and representations. That’s especially when they are cherry picked around a subject. I previously loved these Ugly Reinaissance Babies, now I’m absorbed by these ‘Medieval emoticons‘, and in general by the website where I found them. Discarding Images is a real treat.

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Photographic Darkrooms: Michel Campeau’s Photos of a Disappearing and Often Romanticized World

I think most people have seen darkrooms in films, where they can seem this mysterious places where pictures come to life. Film characters are either developing their films there because they’re artists, or is their craft or perhaps because they’ll reveal a secret this way. But truth is hardly anyone uses darkrooms anymore. Truth is they’re smelly places, far less charming than portrayed in movies. Truth is photographer Michel Campeau documents a world that is disappearing.

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The comfort of taking a break from being you: Tom Broadbent’s portraits of Furries in their homes

What you do when you’re a Furry is that you dress up as a fluffy character and you meet up with other fluffy characters and you chat and have and hang around. You can also do other things, like you dress up as a fluffy character and then go fishing, or cut a leek or iron your stuff. What you don’t do is two things: reveal your identity and talk to journalists. I think there’s something liberating in being a cartoon and I am currently looking for something liberating, so I am considering becoming a Furry journalist, perhaps I’d be the first ever. And perhaps Tom Broadbent will add me to his collection of photos of people who like to dress up like this.

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The Romania I love: a photo series about the surprising and the charms I’ll miss

I’m leaving Romania today and going back to The Netherlands, and it’s also the last day of the year and the last 2014 post on Passepartout, and somehow it feels just right to show you these photos. Hajdu Tamas doesn’t only seem to be at the right place at the right time, he actually has an eye for everything I love in Romania – the bitter-sweet, the absurd, the sentimental and the everyday surprising with an Eastern flavor. I think the kind of things he photographs are everywhere here, if you pay attention. And for some reason that fails me, many people see this as a mark of inadequacy and not of something to embrace and enjoy.

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The Island of Doctor Moreau: the surprising-kitschy-collage version

Andrea Mastrovito makes a lot of stuff, and most of it is worth seeing so check her website and look carefully. What caught my eye is – predictable, right? – this amazing-kitschy-surprising-collage, a recreation of the animal kingdom, her own version of Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, now called The Island of Dr Mastrovito with version I and II. Well. Truth is her version is much more gentle than the original story, in which a mad doctor does all sorts of experiments hoping to transform animals into people. Mastrovito only cuts all these animals from nature books and puts them all together in this arresting installation.

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When blessing is what you do for a living: Orthodox priests blessing stuff

This is not the kind of stuff you normally see on Passepartout, but I simply cannot help myself! I find it important for you to know that orthodox priests are in the habit of blessing everything, and once they start, they never stop. In the Orthodox tradition – in which I was born – people ask priests to bless, for example, a new house. But we don’t need to limit ourselves to that, obviously. Everything is ‘blessable‘. A tank, a horse, a spacecraft – all splashed with the holy water – in exchange for a more or less symbolic financial compensation. How much is this related to faith…I don’t know. But it also doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can just think and make a top 3 things you need to be blessed. Things will be arranged.

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The stuffed employees: photos behind the scenes of the natural history museum in Vienna

Klaus Pichler is by far one of my favorite photographers. I love the unusual subjects he finds and the way he makes those subjects seem even more curious and interesting than they are in the first place. I previously wrote about him and his Just the Two of Us series of portraits of cosplayers and their homes (cosplayers are those people who dress up like all sorts of characters). And now here is Skeletons in the Closet, a look behind Vienna’s Museum of Natural History, in those rooms where stuffed animals pile up (and come alive at night?).

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The magic, the kitsch and the love: Svetlana Novikova’s surprising animal art

What? You don’t like this? No, no, this cannot be. It’s 7 in the morning, autumn is coming, days are shorter… Can you tell me without blinking that you can take a look at this tomcat below and not get a warm and fuzzy feeling? I certainly do get that feeling and with this discovery, my love for kitsch art got an upgrade. These remarkable paintings are made by Russian painter Svetlana Novikova, and on her website she says her goal is to create one of a kind, exclusive original pieces of art that have a personal emotional impact. It seems to me she succeeds pretty well in doing that.

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Fictitious Dishes: some of literature’s most famous meals made real

Literature helped me survive most of the long and boring days of my (first 12 years of) formal education. I secretly read in class, keeping the book on my knees, under the desk. I love stories and what they taught me, and up to this day I believe that ‘skipping class’ and diving deep into my books is one of the best choices I ever made. It was during that period that I read most of the stories from which designer and writer Dinah Fried took the inspiration for this project. She cooks, designs and photographs some of the most famous meals from some of the most famous novels. And seeing each of these photos, feels like the first time you watch a film made after a book you really loved.

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The night bunch: Traer Scott’s photos of nocturnal animals (I want to touch)

Remember my post about animals that are at home when you’re not? Well, this is a different one. At night, when you’re sleeping, these ones are not. That’s all you need to know. And then look at this eye-candy photos made by Traer Scott and gathered all together in a book called Nocturnal.

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The silent drive: Volkswagen Beetle joins The Silent evolution

Some time ago, I wrote about the magical underwater world created by Jason deCaires Taylor in Cancun’s National Marine Park, in Mexico. 400 sculptures create an artificial home for fishes and crustaceans and everyone else needing a home after having been displaced by the humans messing up with their natural habitat. The Silent Evolution is an unusual conservation project, and the result does not only benefit nature but also creates a magical underwater world. And now, a real size 8 ton Volkswagen Beetle has been added.

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Pink is for girls, blue is for boys: a photo series about the colour/gender divide

In The Pink Blue Project, Korean photographer JeongMee Yoon takes a close look at how artificial the gender/color division is. How plastic it looks. And how false. After she noticed her young daughter choosing pink constantly, she starting to question the reasons behind that choice, so she photographed children among their pink and blue possessions. The result speaks for itself.

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The kitsch update: Zarathustra – the obese cat – improving some famous paintings

I really really think kitsch is underestimated. And Svetlana Petrova’s huge red cat stays proof of that! There’s something so hilariously-disturbing in seeing these collages, that they really blow my mind. And someone who comes up with the idea of adding an obese cat called Zarathustra to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, well, that’s someone I’d like to meet.

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It doesn’t get more bitter-sweet than this: Mark Nixon’s portraits of old teddy bears

Have you ever noticed how many stories an object from your past can tell? How those stories become alive once you rediscover an item long lost? We live our lives surrounded by objects and they’re not just things, but significant things. They absorb our lives. And they keep it there for later remembrance. And this photo project is the best illustration of this.

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Photos from within 1000 meters from my home: a photo project looking at ‘the familiar’ with new eyes

There are thousand of details in our close environment, thousands of things happening every time we walk out our house. But most of them we no longer notice, because they seem to common and everything is just too familiar. We take the familiar for granted and no longer pay attention. We look for the new and the exciting and in this way we often miss the stories and the beauty of the space we live in.

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Federico Babina’s illustrations: what if some of the most famous art would mix with architecture?

The only artist I know who painted and projected buildings is F. Hundertwasser. I guess there are others, but probably not many. For the majority of artists we can only imagine what their art translated into a building design would look like.

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Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012, directed by Ben Shapiro)

I always find the films showing the work behind the magic fascinating. That’s because seeing the work makes the magic accessible and possible and human. Otherwise, one can only wonder.

In Gregory Crewdson’s case, the magic takes a lot of time, people and a lot of money. But most of all, it takes his vision and his talent to spot something in the back of his mind and make it reality. ‘The whole process of making art is an act of faith in a way’ he says in the beginning of the film.

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The real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh is one of my favorite childhood characters. When I was about six, my father gave me a small book he had since he was a child himself – ‘The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ – with the original drawings.

The book was written by A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin, the boy in the book, was actually his son, named Christopher Robin Milne. Winnie was a bear the boy had and apparently many other of his toys borrowed their names for most characters in the story.

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