Tours

Small Missing History

When I tried to find the work of Humberto Ricaldo online, I got nothing....maybe it's because it was made in 1978, yes, that's before the convenience of the inter-webs. I did the next best thing and searched the online catalog of work from the Tropenmuseum, where I discovered Ricaldo's work - that search also lead to a big zero.I want to know more about Ricaldo because I was moved by his work, so while I am searching for more information somewhere, here's what I DO know of Humberto Ricaldo - he is an artist from Mexico and in 1978 he was making these very tiny figures from balsa wood and paint:

Humberto Ricaldo, Dancer With Animal Mask
Humberto Ricaldo, Dancer With Animal Mask
Humberto Ricaldo, Carnival Figures
Humberto Ricaldo, Carnival Figures
Humberto Ricaldo, Folk Dress
Humberto Ricaldo, Folk Dress

Here's their actual size:

I have emailed the museum to see what they might have on record about Ricaldo. His genre of work though, is not so mysterious, it's called Pulgas Vestidas (Clothed Fleas) and sprang to life in the early 1900's. Most of the original Pulgas Vestidas' used real fleas in the the composition, usually just the heads mounted on tiny adorned little bodies. Though I have some issues about taxidermy in art, I have killed many fleas and enjoy the thought of their demise resulting in a curious work of art. Here's a great example:

Dressed Fleas from Xavi Puk website, http://magicpuk.blogspot.nl/
Dressed Fleas from Xavi Puk website, http://magicpuk.blogspot.nl/

It's believed that this tradition started with the Aztecs, though documentation is scarce. Mostly it seems Nuns in Mexican convents contributed to the art which seems to have lead to the ever popular flea circus - a tradition that is still alive and well today. Obviously this needs a lot more research, but here are a few places to start:

WorthPoint - this article by Maggie Turnipseed in 2009 gave a great summary of how the dressed flea came to become part of Mexican culture - as well as how much an original display would be valued at today.

MatitaTaller - worth a translate, Carmen Loyola tells the story of a collection of Pulgas Vestidas that was rescued from the Museo del Chopo when the building was demolished, some of these were later micro-photographed.

And then there's the Flea Circus Research Library a stunning collection of facts and trivia. Apparently the Aztecs had a special place for the flea in their culture, as it appears in many statues.

Regardless of history, Humberto Ricaldo choose not to use real fleas in his work, but kept to other dynamics of Pulgas Vestidas intact, namely the representation of the cultural traditions of Mexico. It took him about six hours to complete each figure, which I image to be back breaking work with little room for error... and again I have to ask myself, why? Why chose this medium and format over anything else. How did Ricaldo discover that he had talent for this? I may never find out, but I am determined to try - hopefully I will hear back from the Tropenmuseum, but for now, I have stumbled into the world of Micro Artists - you can check out some of my favorites here.

Highly Designed Incongruencies, DDW.

It's Dutch Design Week, where you get a lot of content and shitty service experiences. Apparently the Future Now concept does not extend to user experience... or perhaps it was just us? Our particular disappointments were the extremely slow ticket fast lane and mis-prints for the end time for the Graduate show, not to mention some more general food service orientated items.Let's forget about the negatives, as these may be cultural, and focus on what we were impressed by.... which, of course did NOT include the Graduate show.

Vaccination against the unknown, Brekel & Strekel
Vaccination against the unknown, Brekel & Strekel

Top on our list was the work by Brekel & Strekel, who think that our society has become way too safe. Their design re-inserts risk and mayhem back into our lives - super thank you for that. The product above, which is not currently on their website, is essentially a 9 volt battery on a stick, complete with ice cream shaped vinyl sheath. You insert your tongue into the piece and enjoy the tingly shock. Yes, lot's of tongues have hung out in it and, no, it's not sanitized... I used it twice.

Lieke Brekelmans demonstrates the Doll Heads.
Lieke Brekelmans demonstrates the Doll Heads.

The device above is called Doll Heads and Lieke was kind enough to demonstrate the risky adventure one would have trying to light a match and avoid frying hair. Fantastic in both concept and execution, these ladies must be placed on the watch list, which I will read while running with scissors.

The True Size of Food
The True Size of Food

From Dik & Stijlloos, The True Size of Food aims to shed more light onto the food we eat, our food choices and food contents. They do this with a simple design that made the information accessible and fascinating. There website shows more of the exhibit and I walked away never wanting to eat pasta again.

Available Food, The True Size of Food
Available Food, The True Size of Food

In a beautiful homage to the polaroid, Dik & Stijlloos display a  picture of every place you can buy food within 500 meters. The physical component necessary to complete a project of this scope impressed me. They also showed photographs of how food ages over 96 days, which must have been quite the experience to execute. Where exactly did they store the hamburger for 96 days? Definitely check out their website - and buy the book

Donor Design Week
Donor Design Week

Six artists participated in an exhibition called Donor Design Week, this piece above by Jalila Essaidi uses Golden Orb Weaver spiders to demonstrate the crafting of synthetic organs. The world of organ replacement is rapidly changing and the processes are blurring the lines between living and not living... the spiders building their living space around a static form were a perfect example of the juxtaposition. Unfortunately the lighting created great issues or my images, but the exploration in to the body and it's various replaceability and advancing technologies was a refreshing line of exploration.

Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show
Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show
Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show
Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show
Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show
Elemental break down of the Fairphone, Awards Show

Seeing the natural elements that go into creating a cell phone was a great experience. The Fairphone strives to bridge the gap between high tech and sustainabilty by producing an Android based cell phone for a living wage, using conflict free resources, using open architecture for easy upgrades (instead of replacement) and providing ecological waste solutions. At 325 euros it's a phone that is designed to change when technology changes and give you a peace of mind where you may have never considered it possible - that is, if you can handle the Android system.

Lore Langendries
Lore Langendries
Lore Langendries
Lore Langendries

I wasn't sure what I thought about Lore Langendries work with the cow, but the longer I looked at it the more the craft(wo)manship won me over. Though I didn't try it on, I wondered if it was itchy, design wise, it was simple but dynamic.

There's a ton more images to process, but perhaps the best bet is for you to go. It's amazing to see so much design in one place. By far the best part of the experience is the accessibility to the artists. For the most part, the designers are there, and engaged. It's an opportunity not to be missed. Here's a few more shots, all from the Klokegebouw, if you go, and get me the artists name, I will send you a gift - consider it a scavenger hunt.