She is touching, the main character from the animated short A single life, which you see getting older the further she moves the gramophone needle into the record. Life moves in a groove, scratches on the record are jumps in time. She looks vulnerable and touching because of how her facial expressions and movements are designed by her animators, Job, Joris & Marieke.
That was Walt Disney’s abiding artistic concern, according to his biographer Neil Gabler, when in the 30s he was working on his first major animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937: Can an imaginary animated character move people enough? He passed with flying colours.
The three animators Job Roggeveen, Joris Oprins and Marieke Blaauw, who started the ‘creative studio Job, Joris & Marieke’ in Utrecht in 2007, can also do it: create moving animated characters, using the latest animation techniques down to the smallest detail, such as vibrating body parts. . This can be seen in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, where the exhibition A triple life highlights from their animated oeuvre – and a new, beautiful ground-breaking animated film. They mainly make animated films for adults.
Their atmospheric short animated film ‘A single life‘ from 2014 was nominated for an Oscar (although Disney snagged the film award from their noses). They were successful again with their inventive animation for young people, Come on from 2016, now also adapted as a series for VPRO TV. It is a film about teenagers from different cultural backgrounds who discover that they can change heads in a discarded magical washing machine. This is how they get to know each other’s lives. The film won an International Emmy Animation Award. The Emmy shines in the exhibition cube dedicated to this film.
Also read: Job, Joris & Marieke about their full-length animated film about time travel with hiccups
For each animated film shown, such a giant cube is always built on top of the exhibition, in which not only the film (or a fragment) can be seen, but also photos, puppet models and design sketches. It is clear and accessible; different than video presentations at art exhibitions usually are.
Job, Joris & Marieke have an enormous talent for translating bizarre stories and twists of thought into atmospheric, appealing poetic animations, full of expressive details. Sometimes with, unlike Disney, a gruesome edge.
There are e.g dumb, a short film about people who have no mouths. Due to an accident with a knife, one of them suddenly gets a mouth and can express himself. After which everyone cuts their own mouths in the head with sharp objects, including a baby who can suddenly self-indulgently suck on a pacifier. The bloody aspect is cleverly dosed and stylized.
The idea for the film arose when Joris injured his toe while swimming and thought the wound looked like a mouth. “We have (…) always been weird,” Marieke once said in an interview, calling “the chemistry between the three of us” the source of their creativity. The animation clip that the trio made for the Dutch hip-hop hit ‘Ik take je mee’ by Gers Pardoel shows that they can also make cheerful ones, e.g. child-friendly movies.
‘Even yourself healthy’
The highlight of the exhibition is a new 3D animation film none, specially developed for this Kunsthal presentation. It is a topical short film about a man who is completely absorbed in his social media: ‘Selfie you healthy’ is his motto. He literally becomes just a shadow of himself. This is beautifully depicted by new 3D animation techniques, projected in brilliant detail onto three walls and the floor, so that the viewer really feels included in the film. Everyone who has been so immersed in Job, Joris & Marieke’s wonderful creative universe will leave the Kunsthallen refreshed.
A version of this article is also published in the NRC Handelsblad of 29 March 2022