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Review: 'Convento' Is An Intriguing & Moving Look At Art And Life

  • By Christopher Bell
  • |
  • March 6, 2012 1:05 PM
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The Zwanikken clan story is not your Daddy’s family tales. Back in 1980 Geraldine and Kees (ballerina and photographer respectively) needed a creative spark to their battery, and together with their two children (Christiaan and Louis) they abandoned Holland for a decrepit convent in a remote Portuguese village, rebuilding the monastery as both a home and workshop for their varying endeavors. Situated between two rivers, the building's water wheel was put back to use and the land was soon fit to live off. Their work in art continued, with Christiaan following in their footsteps (unlike his sibling, Louis, a quieter lad who enjoys giving tours around the compound and writing poetry) in a unique way -- using junk electronics and the skeletons of long-gone animals, the deceased creature is reborn mechanically and controlled by computers, ranging from a donkey that moves water between two points and a bird that sings eerie tunes. This work has been part of various exhibitions all over the world, and the "biomechanoid zoologist" splits his time between the convent and studios in both Amsterdam and NYC.

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