Who or what is AFK?
AFK Away From Keyboard* is a company founded by choreographer and graphic artist Aafke de Jong (NL).
The name - an acronym from the gaming world - is meant as 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 and our fellow human beings.
What is left are memories
Aafke's work - be it her dance performances or her drawings and murals - shows a close attention to detail and resonates a sensitivity towards her surroundings.
Processes in nature - and therefor within ourselves - are a great source of inspiration and comfort for Aafke's life and work. Her motivations range from day to day occurrences to the unstoppable stream of global events.
Aafke is intrigued by our inner world and outer actions, that often do not synchronize. Also a sense of escapism can be clearly felt. However, Aafke does not look upon this in a sentimental way, but rather as natural human feelings we all deal with from time to time.
Aafke also has a double relationship to the impermanence of dance as an art form. Movements in itself dissolve directly after the moment they were brought into space. But perhaps it is precisely the awareness of this fact that it enables us to experience dance (and perhaps life itself?) in a very intense way.
AFK often collaborates with artists form other genres, like composers, musicians, writers, and actors, with whom she creates research based performances that are often steeped with inventiveness, great eye for detail and perhaps a humorous twist. Although AFK invites you to think, wonder, worry or smile with her, her desire is to always keep enough space for both audience and performers to find their own associations and ways of 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
Aafke also makes graphic work in multiple mediums. Her drawings and murals radiate her love of subtlety or rawness of beauty and the diversity of life. It is perhaps her way of looking at the idea of 'space' that makes her not wanting or not being able to separate the art forms, and to separate art from life. Wether an empty stage or a blanc piece of paper, for Aafke it is the ultimate sense of freedom. It is her way to satisfy her curiosity and to express her ideas.
Workshops to look and wonder
Whilst spending a considerable amount of time behind a digital screen herself, through her art workshops Aafke invites you to step away from it for a moment and take some time. Time to look. To look around us and to really see who is there and what is there.
AFK's tailor-made workshops combine looking at nature with art. Aafke shares with us that elements like space, rhythm, line and structure are to be found in nature, our body, as well as in our surroundings, for example architecture. Through simple guided and improvisational tasks she likes to challenge you to translate those components and fill a blanc piece of papier or an empty space. The classes also prove to be a gentle tool to connect with our environment and with each other.
After graduating from Rotterdam Dance Academy (now Codarts University for the Arts) in The Netherlands, where she was formally trained in western contemporary dance styles, Aafke spent five years of her life studying dance and culture on the Indonesian island of Bali. Immersed in the Island life she has gained a deep appreciation of ways so different than her own. Balinese culture provided a large influence in her outlook to life and work, although this is not always visible in a direct way. Her study, combined with her experiences abroad, paved the way to an alternate perspective on the traditions that gave birth to her current work.
*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.
picture by Jaap Berends
AFK often collaborates with artists from The Netherlands and abroad. Her work is shown on several festivals and other occasions. Below you'll find a selection.
In 2005 Aafke was invited to make a choreography (Jatuh Bisu/Falling in Silence) especially designed for the opening of the World Music and Dance Centre (Codarts, Rotterdam, NL). For this piece, which was inspired by 'rites of passage' as found in Balinese culture, AFK
collaborated with composer of contemporary gamelan Sinta Wullur, poet Ketut Yuliarsa (Bali, Indonesia) and actor Dion Vincken. The piece was performed with chromatic gamelan ensemble Multifoon, the DoelenKwartet and the Zephyr Quartet for string instruments.
Together with internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Michiel Braam and visual artist Gerrit van Middelkoop, Aafke made the site specific performance 'In The Beginning There Was' (2011), under a railway bridge at the shores of the IJssel river in Arnhem.
At the invitation of the Münchner Stadtmuseum (DE) Aafke created the work 'GONG' together with composer Iwan Gunawan (Kyai Fatahillah, Bandung, Indonesia) - one of the most influencial composers of contemporary gamelan - for the International Gamelan Festival in 2018.
Aafke's short dance film 'Itch I' was nominated for the Side By Side Festival in Dusseldorf (DE) in 2010 and also played in Athens (Greece) during International Digital Arts Festival in 2011. Out of this she developed a live version ('Itch II'), for which she worked together with composer Tjerk van der Ham and multi-instrumentalist Jaap Berends. It was performed a.o. during Julidans Festival (I Like To Watch Too) in Paradiso, Amsterdam.
With her sister, theatre maker and singer/songwriter Hanneke de Jong and her partner, video artist Jonas de Witte, she made the site specific performance 'Eitulovni', about the rising of the water. With floating poetry, this partly swam and sung duet took place in a small forest lake on Vlieland, a small island in the north of The Netherlands for the Into The Great Wide Open Festival.
Commissioned by the Stichting Indisch Erfgoed (Foundation for Indo European Heritage) and inspired by the book of Reggie Baay about slavery in the former Dutch Eat Indies, Aafke made the performance (Tanpa Wajah / Without a Face) with Javanese dancer Rahmida Dewi Padmawati and former actor Boudewyn Scholten. Costume parts were made out of Indonesian crispy chips (known as kerupuk).
Recently she established a collaboration with California based composer Brian Baumbusch (The Lightbulb Ensemble) who likes to push the boundaries of new music.
To read and see more about AFK's performances, please browse the menu 'Performances' in the top bar.