Author

rene & margaret

Our book ‘The Kindness of One’ has been shortlisted for the dutch award for the ‘Best Designed Books‘. The winner will be announced later this year but at least our book will be on view during the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam! Proud?! Yes very much! (Our book is right in the middle of the picture, the strikingly beautiful blue cover.)

(Want to have a closer look or even order your copy? Follow this link)

Where better or more appropriate to launch our project than in close cooperation with the Embassy of Art in Amsterdam?! On the 22th of November the opening was performed by the deputy ambassador of Lithuania in the Netherlands, Giedre Gelezeviciene. It started a weekend of activities with a poetry/music dialogue on Saturday and an artist talk on Sunday. A memorable weekend with the help of Sybille & Chris of the Embassy of Art, Robi Reisinger and Katherine Oktober Matthews. Here some images to illustrate the great atmosphere of the weekend.

The Kaunas Gallery choose Paris Photo in November 2018 for the launch of our book. At the Polycopies boat, we met with a special guest; Nerijus Aleksiejunas, the ambassador for Lithuania in France. We presented him with the Special Edition box; containing the book, two prints and a silkscreen printed additional poem. As it turned out, it was the start of something bigger in fall 2020! To be continued!

Here it is. Our first book together; all images of Margaret Lansink and all poems by Rene van Hulst. Printed in two blacks and silver in a design by Akikio Wakabayashi. A book on an inspiring story which still has so much relevance today. A book in which we do not want to lecture but give every individual a small nudge to help build a society where empathy for the other is omnipresent.

As Katharine Oktober Matthews wrote in the preface of the book: “Every moment contains multiple possibilities, though sometimes we cannot feel it. Small decisions, small gestures, and small actions ripple outwards from our bodies into the lives of others, collapsing the many possibilities into the determination of reality. With a casual and careless stroke, we can crush the spirit of another in passing without any awareness of having done so. Equally, we can unknowingly radiate to others the inspiration and joy to live another day. Our deepest acts of both cruelty and kindness may in fact be invisible to us.”.

Being aware of this notion makes the start of a different interaction between humans. Even if we didn’t know each other beforehand. Just like the Dutch counsel Jan Zwartendijk and the Japanese counsel Chiune Sugihara who issued the visa that saved the lives of thousands of Jews. People both consuls didn’t know beforehand.

Or as Oktober Matthews says it so beautifully:
In her black and white images, Lansink traces the feeling of everyday saviours like Zwartendijk through an intuitive view of Kaunas and Japan. She mixes scenes from ordinary daily life with shots of blurred confusion, and layered scenes with reflections that hold us apart from what we see. In his series of short poems, van Hulst muses on the potential of our human existence: we are all afraid and alone, together. In combination, the photographs and words dwell in the possibility of any given moment for a person to choose fear, apathy, and anger, or to choose compassion and kindness. Gently, they urge for kindness.

Want to have your own copy? Please order here
Or via Kaunas Photogallery in this link.
More on our journey can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Back in Kaunas. After a journey of three years we are again back in this beautiful city and ready for the launch of our book ‘The Kindness of One’ tomorrow evening in the Kaunas Photogallery. And it is with considerable pride that we are part of the program of the ‘Citytelling Festival’ of the Kaunas 2022 Cultural Capital, being invited by its curator, Daiva Citvariene, to present the story of our inspiration.

Especially for this event on the 21st of October, we prepared a screening of our book with the help of Robi Reisinger of the Gallery Club. With his expertise, we developed a special soundtrack to guide viewers along the journey of our book through the images selected. An eclectic 8 min deep dive into the emotional journey of (fortunately) so many Jews who where given the opportunity to escape the horror of Nazi Germany.

And as we write this, humanity is still struggling with millions of refugees due to wars and sometimes it seems that we simply fail to learn the important lessons of our history. Or in positive words, as written in the preface of our book by Katherine Oktober Matthews; every day and every moment, we can choose for angry or for kindness…

So a big thank you to all who travelled with us on this remarkable journey:
design: akiko wakabayashi
lithography: marc gijzen
production: drukkerij tielen, boxtel
publisher: kaunas photography gallery in cooperation with wewest

Margaret and Rene would like to thank the team of the Kaunas Photography Gallery for their energy and perseverance in making this book happen, especially Gintaras Cesonis for his belief in  the importance of our story. Furthermore the people of Shiro Oni Studio in Onishi Japan for our wonderful residence, especially Yoji Matsumura for his teaching  of the Japanese language and  the principles of Wabi Sabi.

We admit, it has been quite a while that we delivered you some news on our project. Now it is high time to update you on everything that has happened after our return from the AIR at Shiro Oni Studio in Japan, late September 2017.

We came back with tons of images and poetry lines to sort through, to select and to kill quite a few darlings. What left was still an impressive amount which we put in the capable hands of Akiko Wakabayashi, a Japanese designer living and working in Amsterdam. Trained at the legendary studio of Irma Boom, the acclaimed photo-book designer.

Together we went through the creative rite of finding the right voice for our story and developing the right marriage between the Kaunas and the Onishi imagery/poetry. After three not yet completely OK tries, Akiko created a version that was not only impressive but especially fitted our story. With this design, we dared to venture out in the world to find publishers and co-sponsors.

When in Arles this summer, we met up again with Gintaras Cesonis, the director of the Kaunas Gallery. And it is with great pride and joy that we can now announce that they will become publisher and co-financiers of the book. Mid November, we will meet up again to talk through the final details and we foresee a launch somewhere around or just after the summer of 2019….. Actually, we have received the first copies today!

If you want to be in on the first (signed) copies of the book…follow this link!

Today marks our last day at the Shiro Oni Residence. Later this afternoon, we will do our artist talk one more time and thereafter dismantle our exhibition. Time for some reflection on 6 weeks Japan.

Before we went everybody told us that we would experience a culture shock; Japan is so different. And it is. The culture of this society brings all of its friendliness to the forefront, the human respect and awareness is something we know we will dearly miss back in Europe. Although we couldn’t read any of the signs, we experience the heartfelt connections with so many of the local people.

This last day of the Kanna Art Festival however shows that humans also are a lot alike, everywhere you go. They all want to have a good time, they all want to be inspired, work and discover together and simply be around each other. It is probably the reason why one of the residents suggested to dance within the installation of one of the Japanese artists which was amazing as you can see in the image of this post.

last day

But probably the best illustration is to be seen in one of the food stands in the courtyard of the old brewery; Japanese preparing paella! Which, according to our Spanish colleague resident, was a true paella!

So we know we will come back to this country and its lovely people! To present the outcome of our project, to photograph and write even more and above all experience the friendliness of the human interactions. For us it is no wonder that 77 years ago, when the Jews from Kaunas were greeted with a simple bow, a great number of them decided to stay in this wonderful society.

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