Who is AFK?

AFK is a company founded by Aafke de Jong (1971).

One of Aafke's friends always used to call her 'AFK', which stands for away from keyboard. It is an acronym used in the online gaming world to let your gaming partner know that you want to have a

break from the game for a while. The name is also an antidote to digital speed and reveals a longing for spending more time away from the digital screen. Time to looking around us with more attention and with more care for our natural environment.

By asking herself relevant questions about universal themes like 

interpersonal relationships, processes in nature, environmental issues, multiculturalism etc. Aafke looks for ways to lead the focus of the audience and invites it to think, wonder, worry or smile with her. Her work lends itself to interpretation on many levels and allows the audience (and also it's performers) to reach their own heights of insight and appreciation. She hopes that her work can

be looked upon as a 'conversation' - an exchange of thoughts, feelings and ideas - rather than a bold statement.

The ultimate sense of freedom

After graduating from Codarts University for the Arts (former Rotterdam Dance Academy) Aafke spent five years of her life studying dance and culture on the Indonesian island of Bali, which remains an important source of inspiration for her work. Wether an empty stage or a blank piece of paper Aafke finds inspiration from what the Balinese call sunyi, empty(ness) or void. The liberation of creative process presented by the empty silence or the unlit stage fires her decisive nature. She finds the expressive world of art a place where she can manifest her insight and experience. Her compositions feed off the people and context which makes each performance ground breaking and unique.

 

A space within a space, a time within a time

Since childhood she has a fascination for the repetitive patterns found in the graphic work of M.C. Escher, who combined art, nature and science. In her spare time she enjoys visiting museums, architectural interesting sites or landscapes, finding inspiration in simply 'being' in an interesting surrounding, allowing her thoughts to come to the surface.

In(do)spiration

Aafke also feels attracted to the anthropological idea of what is so familiair to Balinese culture - the concept of bhuwana alit 

(microcosm) and bhuwana agung (macrocosm). Looking at this,

one could also conclude that form - as visible entity of the tangible world - is 'but' a vessel for the unseen, unheard and unspoken world. It feels comforting to her that the way nature (including our own body) functions on earth - mainly by cooperation and communication between cells, organs or other organisms -  reflects similar processes in the universe as a whole. Processes that take place within us are at the same time larger than ourselves.

Flocks of birds and swarms of bees move as one singular entity, driven not by one leading bird or bee in particular, but by a joint consciousness. A pile of leaves that moves as being choreographed by the wind somehow can provide hope and trust that life itself will never end.

Multiple disciplines to strengthen each other

Aafke finds most joy in making or designing all needs for a performance herself, including the costumes and stage set. 

Upon recommendation of her high school teachers at first she

would attend art school to become an illustrator or painter. Instead she chose a professional education in dance, but never gave up drawing and painting. Theatre is a place where she can combine art forms without limiting herself

Her preference for visual art often makes her approaching dance like a sculptor in space. To Aafke all art disciplines in fact sprout from a similar necessity and communicate in a similar way, only using different media. Perhaps therefore it is not a coincidence that since childhood she already felt so attracted to the culture of Bali (Indonesia), where artists are often also dancers, musicians, singers, painters and sculptors at the same time.

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picture by Jaap Berends

Shared memories - bridging cultures

Since 2003 Aafke often collaborates with internationally acclaimed artists, about which you can find some examples on this website.

For GONG Aafke worked  Indonesian composer Iwan Gunawan (Java, Bandung), one of the most influencial composers in the field of contemporary gamelan. 

Jatuh Bisu/Falling in Silence, was a collaboration with Indonesian composer Sinta Wullur (Java) and writer Ketut Yuliarsa (Bali).

She also has had improvisation sessions with musician/composer Krishna Sutedja (Bali).

More recently she has developed a collaboration with California based composer Brian Baumbusch (The Lightbulb Ensemble) who likes to push the boundaries of new music. Both Brian and Aafke share a passion for Balinese arts and culture, which shines through in their work.

Debate about colonialism

Many people with roots in Indonesia (former colony 'Dutch Indies) live in The Netherlands. That is why from a very young age Aafke developed an interest in the arts and culture of this country.

Aafke believes and hopes that the - often troubled - debate about colonial history, that today is again particularly topical, can benefit from the cooperation and exchange between artists from Indonesian and Dutch background.

However, this is not the single reason for her to seek cooperation with other (for example Indonesian) artists. She is convinced that an open attitude towards 'the other' - be it another human being, another way of thinking or another culture  - is a necessity in order to being able to live together in a peaceful way.

Discover unbeaten paths together

Aafke also often collaborates with artists from other art disciplines in general, like writers, composers, costume designers and video artists. She especially appreciates working together with other artists, not only because she enjoys exchanging ideas on a similar level, but also because she likes the idea of being able to inspire each other and discover unbeaten paths together.

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