This photograph shows Phil Bloom in a less known setting, a boat, possibly moored in some waterway in the Dutch town of Dordrecht, whereby the date seems to be October 29, 1967. It is 1967 for sure as the man with the “artistic” small scarf around his next to the right of Phil Bloom is Matthijs van Heijningen with whom I shared in those days the small office space in the Sigma Center in Amsterdam on the Kloveniersbugrwal (Matthijs is a movie producer now). As far as I remember Matthijs – who was married with Roos at that time - was charmed very much of Phil and if I am right they ended up living together for some time later on. Also on the forehead in the left under corner one sees a person with a sticker on his/her forehead that reads “Johnson voor het Tribunaal”, which point to Lyndon B. Johnson American president who was accused of war crimes by peace and left activists of that time. It is just after the world wide (Western world to be precise) ‘flower power’ summer of 1967, so the body painting confirms that. Now I was not there, but my guess is that this ‘happening’ must have been an initiative of the Dordrecht Provo-movment of that time, with one of its activist being Joop Wilhelmus. They were publishing a magazine called Gnot for which Pieter Boersma and me once made a small photograph reportage of a ‘continuous drawing’ system, including drawings in the snow and on – also – a naked lady, being Saar Stolk. This was the time of us male “sexists” being dressed ourselves while painting on nude ladies (though there was in the same time a Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama who was painting colorful dots everywhere including on men who agreed to strip naked in public, as happened during some show of her in the Netherlands with the far from macho body of – if I remember it correctly – Jan van Schoonhoven/Nul-groep).
— interlude Jan van Schoonhoven – - -
I just did a a quick search and here we are into the power of Boolean logick combined with modern computers through smart indexing techniques… out comes a nice text in PDF format with this quotation on Jan van Schoonhoven:
“Who was this man, who one day spontaneously let world-famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama paint his nude body with Polka dots to appear the next day neatly dressed at the office?”
source is “HOW JAN SCHOONHOVEN – THROUGH AN ACT OF FAITH – BECAME A FAMOUS ARTIST.”
A bit more of research just for my personal ‘divertimento’. The catalogue of the exhibtion “Actie, werkelijkheid en fictie in de kunst van de jaren ’60 in Nederland” (action, reality and fiction in the art of the sixties in the Netherlands), Museum Boymans van Beuningen Rotterdam, 1979/1980, has a short description on the Yayoi Kusama & Henk Peeters artistic exchange. The event took place in Delft in the Novum Jazz Society and was a celebration of a price Jan van Schoonhoven did get at Biennale of Sao Paulo (1967) with an exhibition of his work in the Gemeente Museum Teh Hague and the Ortiz Gallery in the same town. Afterwards a party was thrown in the nearby town of Delft. Yaoi Kusama is one of the guests and she performs her trade mark happening of that time: painting fluorescent color dots on male bodies. Jan van Schoonhoven undresses almost completely (leaving his socks on – the well known male flaw of making one self look ridiculous) . Some younger men only bare their chests or keep as a last resort their white (Tilanus) panties on. The first picture on the left is by ‘Fotobureau Den Haan’, photographs two and three are by my friend Pieter Boersma and one can see that the event has been filmed as well. The last photograph came up in a search of the Spaarnestad Photo Archive (photographer Theo van Houts) and has an apparent wrong caption, it identifies the ;wild man’ dancing with Yayoi as Jan van Schoonhoven, who has – as e can see in picture one – a complete different posture.
There are two press articles related to this event which I need to delve from some archive yet: Betty van Garel in the Haagse Post (11/111/67) “De bandeloze liefde van Kusama” (The boundless love of Kusama; and A. Wagenaar in Vrij nederland (2/12/67) “Yayoi en de blote mannen” (Yayoi and the naked men).
— end of interlude —
My guess is that Joop Wilhelmus is also somewhere in this picture (is the fourth person from the left with the blond curly hair?) Joop did get very fat later so I am hesitating here. He was the founder of one of the first no style sixties sex-magazines called “Chick” and maybe one of the other ladies has been involved in that emancipatory project also. It was almost half a decade later that the Dutch feminist movement started to demonstrate against porn (with some actions involving public burning of porn magazines).
The picture has been made press photographer Dick Coersen (ANP, the main Dutch Press Photo Agency in those days). I could find little information about Coersen apart from the fact that he has held this profession for several decades and has been w while the chairman of the association of Dutch press photographers.
This photograph has hardly been documented though it is an entry point to several personal stories that met for that one odd moment in autumn 1967. What was the ceremony with the candles? How does flower power relate to the anti-Vietnam war actions of that time? This last question I know something about because I remember some pamphlets by the Action group Vietnam in which the Amsterdam family Hofman (Hans and Tini) was very active that also had in these months simple drawings of peace signs and flowers.
Any information will be welcome ….
An answer came in through a Facebook posting I did from the person who is the central focus of this photograph: Phil Bloom… it is a set photograph during the making of a movie “Professor Columbus”, directed by Rainer Erler, written by Rainer Erler and Guido Baumann and poduced by Rob Hauer. It was a German production, released in May 1968 in Germany and in the Fall of 1969 in the Netherlands whereby tow Dutch titels are mentioned: “Alle hens aan dek” (All hands on deck) or “Laten we lief zijn voor elkaar” (Let’s be nice (give love) to each other). Knowing this it was easy to find refrences in the on-line information sources on movies. So this is one of the summaries of the plot:
“A scholarly library researcher inherits a steamship from a distant relative. The mild-mannered man is compelled to sail away to fulfill his lifelong dream of adventure on the open seas. He arrives at the boat to find it is being inhabited by a group of hippies. He and the psychedelically inspired crew set sail for a mythical port of paradise in this only slightly amusing comedy.”
and this more extensive viewer’s account:
“‘Professor Columbus’ is an old librarian, played by German movie veteran Rudolf Platte, who just wants to go to the sea once in his lifetime. So he buys a big ship and takes a boat trip across the North Sea to London, accompanied by a bunch of stoned hippies and chased by the police.When you read this short description, you might guess that this German movie was filmed back in 1968. There is no real plot at all, but it’s rather a collection of slapstick and improvised scenes. The main focus of this early film by German seventies cult director Rainer Erler (“Das blaue Palais”, “Fleisch”) was to show what’s possible beyond the limits of a conservative society – a typical topic of the late sixties like film experiments, mind expansion via drugs, sex, inner journeys, happenings, etc.In that relation, this movie might be an interesting example to watch (especially a really weird hippie drug orgy on the boat), but otherwise you will get bored soon after a few minutes. Watch out for Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé (“The Fourth Man”, “The Living Daylights”, “The Fugitive”) in one of his early roles, and for Dutch actress Ankie van Amstel as a bare-breasted, carnaby-street-like dressed girl digging coal into the boat’s steam engines. Unbelievable!!”
The movie flops and is not something that is proudly presented by those involved. The Dutch Wikipedia page of producer Rob Hauer does not even list this production of him. From a historical viewpoint I am still curious to see it once, to study the representation in its time of the phenomenon of “hippies” and “flower power”. As such it fits in a further interest, which is the commercialization of hippies and flower power – as its original impetus was anti-commercial. Recuperation can not be escaped that is for sure…
Something more about related boats in those times …
One of the original inspiration sources for the “Professor Columbus” movie must have been the provo-boat, bought by Hans Tuynman end 1966 (or was it beginning of 1967) a core figure of the Amsterdam provo movement, who had been imprisoned for two months and wrote a book on this experience and his experience as an activist in the Provo movment. The book called “Full-Time Provo” was published by the lietray publishing house ‘De Bezige Bij’ and had a reasonable success (a few editions saw the light). From the money eraned with the book Hans Tuynman bought an old river freight ship which was moored near the Haarlemmerstraat in Amsterdam and soon became the new headquarters of the provo movement. It is said that another Provo, Duco van Weerlee, who published at the same publishing house a booklet under the title “Wat de provo’s willen” (what the provos want) also helped with his his author earningswith the buying of the boat.
A few years later yet another hippie-boat theme movie also related to the Netherlands saw the light” “Sweet Movie” by the Yugoslav director Dusan Makavejev released in 1974, described as a “taboo-busting” and “art house” movie combining the sexual with the political. It uses action-art elements and non-scripted imrpovised parts involving people from the Austrian commune started by Otto Muehl with their “Selbestdarstellung durch Materialaktion” (self-realisation through material action). I remember the movies of Muehl and other members of what was at that time the group ‘Wiener Aktionismus’, with Hermann Nitsch (Das Orgie und Mysterie Theater, katharsis like enactments involving slaughtered animals and naked bodies), Günther Brus (the most artistic and painterly of the group), Kurt Kren (mostly an experimental filmmaker) and happeninsg artists and photographer Rudolf Schwarzkogler (who is sen by many as the most original creator of this radical and provocative artist group).