Job, Joris and Marieke: A triple life

Job, Joris and Marieke are by far the most famous animators in the Netherlands. Kunsthal in Rotterdam dedicates an exhibition to the trio that works as designers: with sharp ideas and a clear, immediately recognizable visual language.

Woman plays a record and finds out that the vinyl directly affects her life. She goes back and forth, getting younger and older until the needle jumps right into the hole and she ends up in an urn. A life with the length of one song.

Then A single life ended up on the shortlist for the Oscars in 2015, Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins and Marieke Blauw became world famous in one fell swoop. Seven years later, the Utrecht trio, which only operates under their first names, are fixtures on the international animation circuit, and the Kunsthal in Rotterdam is arranging an exhibition about their work and, above all, their method.

A single life

Lastly, this is what makes the trio special and show worthy. Job, Joris and Marieke are not animators or even filmmakers by birth, but studied product design at Design Academy Eindhoven. And that is reflected in their work. Their films always revolve around a single idea that has been thoroughly brushed clean and boned before being systematically and clearly processed. These are punchlines that unfold in minutes and can be described in one sentence. Or as the trio themselves put it: “Pixar makes symphonies, we make good pop songs.”

Humor is a solid ingredient, preferably of the somewhat black kind. How to transform A double life a woman becomes her husband’s double and competes with him until death. And in dumb Residents of a world without a mouth find out that such a tear in your face has enormous possibilities of expression, after which bailiffs, office clerks and housewives cut themselves with barbed wire, a citrus juicer and even a chainsaw.

The imagery of Job, Joris and Marieke is immediately recognizable. This is mainly due to the way they draw people: like tussles with body parts modeled after pills and sausages. Everything that is superfluous has been left out. For example, the characters have no neck, only three fingers on their hands and not always a nose. It’s cartoonish in the best sense of the word: despite extensive simplification, the characters remain recognizable and have maximum expressive power.

In their collective self-portrait, Job, Joris and Marieke show how far this strategy can go. The trio is reduced to columns with a stripe or checkered pattern at the bottom for clothes and a lock of brown hair at the top. It’s a portrait like a logo, but they are not to be mistaken. Look a little between your eyelashes and you will also see a kind of theater scene with curtains on both sides.

One could say that the less is more philosophy combined with stinging humor is typically Dutch, also related to Dutch design that conquered the world in the 1990s. In any case, the sets that the characters go around in are typically Dutch. The terraced houses and playgrounds in Sef, Wesley and Marjolein are recognizable to all who spent their childhood in a growing society. And to the farmhouse in Otto, you only have to leave the motorway in the eastern part of the country for a short while.

Storyboards and moodboards make the creative process a bit more insightful, even though they almost resemble the end result. Happy Camper, the band that Roggeveen gives music to the films, deserved a little more attention than the corner where one video can now be seen. And Action figure not really add anything, or should be an illustration of the trio’s commercial instinct. Fortunately, there is also the display case with a piece of stone in it. This artifact gave Joris a wound on his foot that opened like a mouth – the direct source of inspiration for dumb† Fortunately, a healthy dose of self-loathing is no stranger to creators.


Job, Joris and Marieke: A triple life † Until May 8 | Kunsthal, Rotterdam

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