Gaby den Held


The people, the projects, the music,  the movies that lift you up. That inspire you in everything: your vision on society and the way you look at life. That make you reflect, move, shock and shake you, turn your world upside down. Or make it more beautiful. If only for a few moments.

Zack Pinsent
The young British tailor ZACK MACLEOD PINSENT never wears modern clothing. He ceremonially burned his last pair of jeans when he was fourteen. For him, making and wearing clothes from the past is the most effective way of self-expression. His persistency has led him to become proficient in the tailoring trade. With as a specialization the clothing style from 1660 to the twenties of the last century. With youthful enthusiasm, craftsmanship, determination and charm, Zack now runs his one-man business in tailor-made historical clothing: Pinsent clothing. Feeling lackadaisical? No inspiration? Watch the short BBC video with Zack and you will be fresh and reborn. If only we could all be so cheerful and persistent!

More on Zack Pinsent tailoring
Video about Zack Pinsent (BBC)

Photo © Zack Pinsent

La garçonne byVictor Margueritte
La garçonne by VICTOR MARGUERITTE (1866 - 1942). It is a novel from 1925 about Monique, who dresses like a boy, smokes cigarettes, uses drugs and has lesbian mistresses. This novel, then considered scandalous, caused the author to lose his Légion d'honneur.

La garçonne

Kate Bush - In der Tiefe gibt es ein Licht
'Hello earth' by KATE BUSH absolutely belongs to the music that has touched and influenced me. It is part of the hallucinogenic B-side of the album Hounds of Love, named The Ninth Wave (after a poem by Alfred Tennyson), a suite of seven songs. It's a dark, almost frightening trip. A mini-opera with a horror edge. The first time I heard it I could hardly sleep afterwards, it made such an impression. The songs resounded in my head. Scary fairytales have my preference and this is one of them. One time La Bush sounds like an anxious little child, than as a furious witch. Hello Earth is the apotheosis. Here everything comes together. Up to and including the dramatic climax: the choir that sings the Georgian song Tsintskaro (known from the film Nosferatu by Werner Herzog). Then the melody descends and the both ominous and reassuring words are spoken: "Tiefer, tiefer, irgendwo in the Tiefe gibt es ein Licht." I quoted this sentence in Charlie Dark. Also as an apotheosis. And as an ode.

Kate Bush - Hello earth

Mikhail Bulgakov
Those who know my novels will not be surprised that I am influenced by magical realism, surrealism and fairy tales. With magical realism, many 
people think of South American literature. But although I admire the novels of Gabriel García Márquez, I don't feel connected to it. 
Where do I get my inspiration from then? The answer is: Russian literature. I love the novel We by Jevgeni Zamjatin (1884-1937). A dystopian novel from which George Orwell has drawn a lot of inspiration in writing '1984.
But my greatest example is MIKHAIL BULGAKOV (1891-1940) and especially his novel The Master and Margarita. His style is satirical with a surrealistic twist. He makes a superior blend of reality, social criticism and 
fantasy. But he also had to resort to metaphors and fairytale scenes because his books and plays were heavily criticized by the Stalinist regime. His pieces 
were even banned in 1929, leaving him without income. In his despiration, he wrote a letter to Stalin. A short time later, he was offered work in the Moscow Art Theater. He spent his days as assistant director, librettist and translator. His own work in the Soviet Union, however, no longer came through the censorship. From 1928 to 1940 Bulgakov worked on his main novel: The Master and Margarita. When he died on March 10, 1940, he had not fully redesigned his magnum opus. For decades his widow Jelena Bulgakova unsuccessfully tried to get the work through censorship. Only in 1966 a heavily censored Soviet version was published. A year later the complete edition of that masterly work appeared in Western Europe. 

Master &Margarita
Biography Mikhail-Bulgakov

Dennis Cooper 

The American cult writer DENNIS COOPER can rightly be called an outsider. He never joined any current trend and he went on his way as soon 
as people wanted to annex him. His heroes were the poets Baudelaire, Rimbaud, but also Marquis de Sade. With such examples, it is no surprise that he writes about boys who indulge in violent sexual excesses. Rape, incest, necrophilia, there is no subject he avoids. An entertaining story is that the bass guitarist of Blur, Alex James, figured in his novel 'Guide' in which the latter was drugged, raped and even murdered. Alex James turned out to be a fan of Cooper's work and agreed to an interview with him. But half an hour before it would happen Alex shied away from it and the two never met. Despite, or perhaps thanks to, the shocking content of his work, he has many fans among well-known artists such as Leonardo di Caprio and U2. The latter is known to have their song Numb inspired by the eponymous chapter from Coopers novel Frisk. But of course there is more to it than shock value. Better than anyone he knows how to make the craving for love tangible in a way that, despite the extreme violence in his stories, actually moves the reader. Originating from the punk culture, Dennis Cooper lets himself constantly be influenced by alternative art and music movements and he also continues to renew himself. Examples are the two novels 'Zac's haunted house,' and 'Zac's control panel,' (2015) which consist entirely of gifs. Other works are: the semi-autobiographical George Miles Cycle (Closer (1989), Frisk (1991), Try (1994), Guide (1997), Period (2000), The sluts (2005) and The Marbled Swarm (2011).

A good writer as bad as you'll find (The Guardian)
Speaking in tongues with Dennis Cooper
Dennis Cooper: the art of fiction
(Paris review)
Dennis Cooper blog

Kazuo Ohno

It is almost eight years ago that a great inspirator died at the very respectable age of 103 years: Kazuo Ohno. One of the inevitable complications of becoming older is that those you look up to, seem to drop like flies over the years, like Stephen Hawking yesterday. However, unlike Hawking, Kazuo Ohno is unknown to many people. People from the art and dance world will probably know him. Kazuo Ohno stood at the cradle of new form of Japanese dance: Butoh. He was inspired for this by the Spanish dancer La Argentina. His style can be characterized by slow movements, fragility, expressiveness and strong visual power. Music lovers might know him because he adorned the cover of A crying light by Antony and the Johnsons.

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About Laurie Andersons Chalkroom, influences and multidisciplinary cooperation

One thing about influences and inspirators: They do not take over your mind. But I think, if you have achieved a certain maturity you can be influenced 
without becoming an epigon. Everything you see and hear: on the streets, on the web, in movies, 
in books, goes through a big blender and what you can use transforms into something that really fits into 'your world'.

I have many inspirators: Federico Fellini, David Lynch, Mikhail Bulgakov, Jan Potocki. And certainly LAURIE ANDERSON. Why Laurie Anderson? Because she is able to get you out of your comfort zone and pull you into a very different strange world. This will teach 
you to recognize how you stick to patterns, judgments, paradigms. She can help you loosen up those ties a bit. What also is so appealing about Laurie Anderson, is that she always keeps renewing and refreshing herself.

In the project Chalkroom (2017) she works with Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang and people from
the game industry. She created a virtual reality with them in which you can fly through the sky - like in dreams - in an environment in which you find stories. Watch the video and discover why it's so inspiring.

I know that I limit myself to text, writing and especially novels. But I am extremely open to collaboration with other disciplines to create something new together. A small example of this is the collaboration for my debut novel Maan (Moon) with graphic designer Cliff van Thillo and photographers Sander & Sandor. Based on the story of Maan (Moon), they have created something from different visual disciplines. Such cooperations tastes morish.

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Conrad Veidt

Movies from the Weimar era are often fascinating. Think of Metropolis or Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler from Fritz Lang.  Some have expressionistic and beautiful decors such as Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (1920) directed by Robert Wiene. In the last movie, the pacifistic ideas from scriptwriters Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer are reflected in the figure of 
Caligari. He is a symbol of the emerging  fascism and the crowd who is uncritically following a strong leader. The call for a strong leader is very present-day.

One of the main actors of Das Kabinett Des Doktor Caligari is CONRAD VEIDT (1893 - 1943). His personalization of the physically handicapped 
Gwynplaine in The man who laughs (Paul Leni, 1928) would write history. The film is based on the novel L'homme qui rit by Victor  Hugo. Gwynplaine has a permanent grin smile, brought to him by Comprachicos. These nomads, invented by Victor Hugo, deformed children physically from a young age to let them work at freak shows. The grinning Gwynplaine would later be a key inspiration for comic bookwriter Bill Finger and artists Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson in creating Batman's biggest enemy, The Joker.

Conrad Veidt has another special role in his name: Anders als die Andern (1919) by Magnus Hirschfeld in which he plays the role of gay violinist
Paul Körner. Despite it's sad ending, this is one of the first films in which homosexuality is positively portrayed,  The story was in fact a charge against the Legislative Act, Paragraph 175, which deals with the prohibition of sex between men.

In 1933, he and his Jewish wife Ilona Prager went to Britain, fleeing the Nazi regime. In 1941, they moved to Hollywood where he played in a number of movies. Ironically, he was often typecast as a Nazi agent. His best-known role was that of the sinister Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca (1942). He died of a heart attack in 1943 at the age of 50.

More on Conrad Veidt
How a 1928 Silent Film Influenced the Creation of the Joker

Rose Macaulay

Dame ROSE MACAULAY, (August 1, 1881, Rugby, Warwickshire, England - October 30, 1958, London) is an English author of novels, biographies and travel stories who was widely praised in her time for her acumen, sharp observations, wit and erudition. She was no ordinary woman: first she wanted to be a naval officer, but then she sets her sights on a writing career. She was an ardent feminist who never married but she had a long affair with the Irish priest and writer Gerald O'Donovan. The gender issue intrigued her, just like her fellow writer Virginia Woolf. She was physically androgynous, but also in her ideas and her work she represented both male and female. She was religious, but she had very liberal ideas which she certainly did not hide.
Her best-known work is the novel The Towers of Trebizond (1956). Three eccentric English people are traveling through Turkey, partly by camel, from Istanbul to the fabled Trebizond. The trip has two purposes: to empower the Turkish woman and the conversion of the people to the Anglican faith. Humor prevails in this work but there is also an undertone of intense heartbreak.

More on Rose Macaulay

Pink Narcissus by James Bidgood

For seven years JAMES BODGOOD worked on the film PINK NARCISSUS (1963-1970) whose images were almost entirely filmed in the New York apartment of the director and photographer. However, the financial backers had lost their patience and the film was edited without Bidgood. He didn't approve of the release and out of protest he let his name be removed from the credits. Long time it was unclear who the director was. Some even thought to see the hand of Andy Warhol in the movie. In 1984 at last it became clear that James Bidgood was the director. Meanwhile, the film had become a cult classic.

What makes this film so influential? Not the flimsy story: a beautiful young male prostitute (Bobby Kendall) is, like Narcissus, completely obsessed with his reflection. Fantasizing he sees himself as a central figure in all sorts of exotic and mythological scenes. He dreams himself a bullfighter, a Roman slave and a faun.

It is not so much the story that appeals to the imagination, but the images. Which are sensual, dreamlike and shot in bright colors. They are like paintings with a kitschy but seductive quality that have come to life. That aspect: gay erotica in a dreamlike bright coloured and kitschy setting would make school and would have great influence on artists such as Pierre et Gilles, David LaChapelle and the film director Pedro Almodóvar.

Interview with director and photographer James Bidgood

Journey to the end of the night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

For a long time I've been putting this novel far away: Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage au bout de la nuit) by LOUIS-FERDINAND CÉLINE. I read it once in a Dutch translation with beautiful illustrations by Jacques Tardi. I was in my mid-twenties and could not get through. The bleak and dreary view on humanity in this novel nauseated me at that age. Last night I saw on YouTube an old documentary about Céline from the Dutch writer Gerard Reve (1923-2006) which made me curious again. I took the book from the shelf and immediately I was captivated by the vivid language. In the documentary, Reve said he had learned and adopted a lot from Celine. I can understand that. In the expressive style I see similarities.
For everything there is a time in your life and maybe it's now time for me to (re) read Journey to the End of the Night.

Voyage au bout de la nuit,  Erik Lieshout et Gerard Reve (Dutch)

Božo Vrećo

In 2013, singer Božo Vrećo took a big risk. In his country, Bosnia, where machismo reigns supreme, he came after the break during a concert in Sarajevo on stage in a dress... and enchanted everyone with his wonderful voice. It is as if God had placed an angel into his throat. He chose to be himself in representing male and female, both visually and in his music that is deeply rooted in the traditional Bosnian melancholic Sevdah. He has convinced his audience, macho 
or not. He is now one of the most celebrated stars of Bosnia.

Queering Sevdah with Božo Vrećo
Božo Vrećo on YouTube

They are an inspiration for one of the main characters of the novel in the making REUNION: drag queens. The novel is about revenge, bullying and its consequences, but could equally be a tribute to the drag queen.

The picture includes: John Kelly, Lavinia, Ulrich, Ryan Burke, miss Guy and Ellen van Ellende.

Jherek Bischoff

Versatility is an understatement with multi-instrumentalist, composer and performer JHEREK BISSCHOF. As an arranger he has worked with indie pop bands like The Parenthetical Girls and Xiu Xiu. As a composer, he has released several albums that have been realized in a quirky way. His album Composed, he first played on the ukulele and then 
he mixed the classical instruments one by one to an orchestra. His latest album Cistern is recorded in the huge Dan Harpole Cistern at Fort Worden 
State Park. An underground basin which was originally intended as a water storage for a nearby military base. Specifically, the reverberation in the 
water basin of at least 45 seconds must have had its impact on the recording process.

How can you describe his style? it's a pleasant no man's land between classical, ambient and the orchestral baroque pop style of bands like 
The Divine Comedy. Bischoff is also called a "pop polymath" and "the missing link between the somber overtones of Ennio Morricone and the unpredictability of John Cale." Anyway, this self-taught undisputable is an original voice in contemporary music land. His music definitely deserves more attention than it gets so far. Let yourself be inspired by the sound world of this likable music fool.

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Nynke Laverman

Frisian is a poetic language. That is proved by NYNKE LAVERMAN and her song art. For years she successfully combines Frisian texts with southern sounds: fado and flamenco. The sturdy Frisian appears to hide unfathomable deep emotions which are conjured up by her music with gusto. Viva Nynke! En mei har sjongt de Fryske taal.

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Confusion of the Struggle - Izaak P. Slagt

Like no one Isaac P Slagt makes with his photographs feelings visible that are below the surface. An excellent example is Confusion of the Struggle, a series of intimate nude portraits of trans woman Lisa van Ginneken. In this series she is still in the intermediate stage, before surgery and during hormone treatment. Isaak is close to her heart when he captures her diverse emotions: joy, despair and euphoria. As never before it is tangible for an outsider what a transgender is going through. Confrontational, 
sensitive and moving.

More on Izaak P. Slagt
Confusion of the Struggle

Trans*Tapes - The Transketeers

Six beautiful, poignant and very diverse portraits of transgender people. Trans*Tapes have undeniable emancipatory value, but there is more. 
With their personal approach The Transketeers penetrate the soul of the people they interview. Of course it helps that the filmmakers are also transgender, but it is clear that all their respect and attention focusses on the interviewees and they let them fully in their value. Then you get a gem like this.

The Transketeers is a Dutch collective of three transmen making audiovisual productions: Jonah Lamers, Bart Peters en Chris Rijksen.


Federico :  llanto por García Lorca (1992)      

In 1992, a short but beautiful poetic film portrait was released of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca (1898 – 1936). The Dutch director MART VAN DEN BERG made the film with minimal resources and with the help of many volunteers. The film follows 
Federico during crucial moments in his life: the death of his lover, the bullfighter Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, the relationship with his mother and his assassination by Franco's Phalangists.

Photography: Liesbeth Ruysink

Watch the movie

Leonor Fini       
The Argentine-French artist LEONOR FINI (1908-1996) was unconventional and uncompromising. She gained a foothold in the male-dominated Surrealist movement. A female Dalì she was called. A nickname that does her deficit because she had her own unique style: sophisticated, pronounced erotic with references to death. Besides painter, she was also a designer of ballet and film productions, illustrator of bibliophile book editions (eg from Baudelaire, Sade, Verlaine, William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe) and wrote three novels: Rogomelec, Moumour and Contes Pour Enfantes Velu and L’Oneiropompe. However she seemed to be more famous for her independent and free lifestyle than her art: traditional marriage meant nothing to her. She preferred a ménage à trois. After her death she fell into obscurity, but in recent years she regains recognition.

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Eiko Ishioka       
EIKO ISHIOKA (1938-2012) was a Japan born art director, costume and graphic designer. In her designs she brought along the Japanese tradition of the NO theater. Her creations are surreal, theatrical, over the top, but always effective and stylish. Her work was shown at the MoMa and she inspired fashion designers like Victor & Rolf. Her trophy cabinet was decorated with a Grammy award, two Tony awards and an Oscar. Who don't know her name, hath certainly seen her designs. She did the art direction of BJÖRK's video Cocoon and designed the costumes for GRACE JONES's Hurricane tour. She designed the fascinating costumes for Bram Stoker's Dracula (FRANCIS COPPOLA). Coppola said: the costumes are gonna be the sets, a perfect description of Eiko's work. Other films where she worked on include Tarsem Singh's The Cell, The Fall and The Immortals. Mirror Mirror would be her swan song. She died on January 21, 2012 of pancreatic cancer.

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Sander & Sandor        

They create 'a crooked world underneath a beautiful thin layer '(Sander). Their pictures are colorful, with a wink to decadence and the underground pop culture. SANDER & SANDOR, lovers and business partners. Sander is in the photo technique and the big picture, while Sandor is doing the styling, make-up and focusses on the details. They lift each other to great heights, they say. They want to make the world a little more beautiful, but they don't avoid political statement. An example is their series: From Russia, With Love with images of beaten up gay and transgender people.

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Federico Fellini        
First there are the images, then the words. It’s no surprise that the movies are my major influence. I love’s the films by Xavier Dolan, François Ozon, Roman Polanski and David Lynch. But FEDERICO FELLINI has influenced me most. Like Fellini I want 
to create a slightly caricatural dream world that gives reality a brighter color. That does not deny the ruthlessness of life, but places it in a different light. And so typically Italian as Fellini's films are, so typically Dutch, is the setting in my stories. But I add colors, and place tragic clowns in it. Dutch anti-heroes with panache. Outsiders who were bullied in the schoolyard as a kid. Because they have red hair. Because they don’t play football. Because they are boys who feel like a girl or vice versa. But they have rebounded. They go through life with their heads held high. They remember that statement of ballet legend Sonia Gaskell: If you fall, always make something 
of it.

Mary Wollstonecraft                                                                 
She loved the idea of a threesome. For instance with Henry Fuseli, the great painter of nightmarish scenes and his wife. Wich they rejected indignantly. MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759 - 1797) was unconventional, to say the least. She was a writer, a philosopher and a feminist avant la lettre. Her most influential work is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Eventually she married the radical philosopher William Godwin. Both emphasized that their marriage was not a concession to the prevailing morality, and that they were completely equal partners. Her daughter MARY SHELLY would come in her footsteps and reap fame as the writer of the gothic novel Frankenstein.
More on Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft: 'Britain's first feminist'