as part of the artistic practice
in an effort to directly communicate in interaction with society and public space. Right after finishing art academy the work shifted from two dimensional to three dimensional work. And the use of photography and video. More about development and intentions click here
The next step was to bring art to the public. And to make statements by directly intervening public space in order to question and challenge the existing. Also to implement interaction in order to provoke dialogue. This was prompted during an 'Erasmus Student Exchange' with the 'Hochschule Der Künste' in Berlin as there was no place in a studio and the artist took refuge to a 'Wagenburg' near Görlitzer Park, where the Berlin Wall previously was situated. The anarchist community that lived there provided me with a public workspace. Here traditional painting shifted to painting with the'nomansland' itself. Paint that was spilled during the proces of painting on the floor had left the residue of that form on the stones. I manipulated that into shapes that interacted directly with the environment by replacing rocks. Residents of nearby houses became interested and conversations arose about life before and after the wall and the future ahead. This encouraged to explore the neighbourhood and here lies the start of interactive creation in relation to community within projects.
Immediately after graduating it seemed pointless to just make artistic artifacts for private use. I became convinced that the communicative power of art mainly comes into its own in public space. Not to beautify the city, but to capture people in their daily routines within the public domain, in order to question and redefine existing social structures.
I left the restrictions of a flat surface and started to work with different kinds of media. The photo camera became an important asset, which evolved into video (moving image). I started intervening through video projection in public space.
Photo: 'Arcadia', 1998 video projections in shop window, public space Helmond , NL
Interventions in public space may also take place within an exhibition setting and occupy public space at the same time. Like site-specific sculptural installations 'Position' I and IV (click) for instance. The last is also connected to the internet through the hashtag 'position’.
All works are usually part of interconnected projects. My interactions may also be related to a particular event, setting or theme.
I first used clothes lines as a material for interventions in Xiamen, China (2014), as part of an artist residency at the Chinese European Art Center.
Intervening means to come between and in the ‘connect’ series the clothes lines are attached above the ground. They connect the trees suggesting togetherness. That way they mark a certain space. At the same time they demarcate, forming a space to position oneself in or distance from as a whole, staying outside its boundaries.
Attached to the tree the lines on the ground mirror the crown, suggesting the hidden existence of the root system, as a metaphor for hidden actualities. The work of course resonates with the reality of modern China, but its open for interpretations.
Imaginary and Actual
'Grenzturm' (photo) 2016, Berlin. Here the clothes lines are connected to the entrance of a former DDR border control tower from where sharp shooters overlooked the area to prevent border crossings (Hennigsdorf). The life-size drawing mirrors the tower in a two-dimensional image. As the keeper of the Grenzturm came to open the monument, he was afraid that explosives were connected to the clothes lines. Because it's only in the recent history, within the lifetime of the community.
However on an imaginary scale, the lines that diverge from the tower door encircle the entire earth if elongated: Connecting and crossing everything that happened, the entire past and the future. The photo is visible on google earth, marking the center.
Flags is also a floor piece which is central for the intervention on Freedom Square in Yerevan, Armenia. It took place in 2018, the year of the peaceful revolution. The coloured pieces of fabric were placed into a composition reflecting the national flags of bordering states. It relates within a historical context with the background of the square and significant happenings that took place in the far and recent past.
People were invited to interact and discuss. By writing down words in relation to identity, placing them on a particular spot, a narrative regarding border politics and (personal) identity covered the floor piece. Afterwards the nation flags were publicly torn to pieces on the square. The idea of creating a composition out of pieces of canvas, rather then using flags itself was in fact a strategy to make this highly symbolic and controversial action possible.
After this the material was woven into a large colourful string, used in a next interactive intervention, during a religious event taking place at a historically important site, elsewhere in Armenia.
And with performative intervention 'View on Ani' at the Armenian - Turkish border. Ani is a ruined medieval city, now located on Turkish territory across the closed border and is considered to be one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride. The undertaken efforts concerning ‘View on Ani’, was an attempt to approach these meaningful remains as close as possible, for they are situated in Turkey and the highly guarded border which is closed as a trade boycot against against Armenia has a no go area and is marked by the gorges of a river.
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Exhibitions offer an excellent possibility to intervene. Sometimes interventions are hidden within creations especially made within the framework of an exhibition theme. A good example is sculptural video installation 'Maria Was Here' that was created in response to a call about medieval painter Lucas Gassel. The installation elaborates on 'Maria' as a child bride in a war zone within the patriarchal system, linking it to current times. The project included action 'Stop child marriages' in the form of a fund raiser for Plan International. I used a work by Lucas Gassel to bring up the theme of sexism related to the Christian myth around the Mary cult.
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Another way to intervene is by self initiated projects, apart from institutions or commissions. The 'Spot' series (four normal kitchen spots / red cabbage) formed the basis for a series of interventions within the public space. They were first placed in a gallery setting during a solo exhibition at the Eesdron art space in Germany. In this setting they were perceived as post/modern art works like water color paintings. After the exhibition they were taken for drives into the country and intervened with landmarks and industrial buildings...
After that the series intervened the interior of the museum of Helmond. During an exhibition in the monumental castle I lined them up with antique shields, representing the various counties that once made the region and representing rulers of that time. This intervention also had a sound component: the subtil sound of opening and closing creaking doors made visitors more aware of the space and look around and up. That way the highly placed images became noticed in relation to the interior.
Intervening through commissions
Critical video installation 'de-con-struct' (2011) was commissioned by the city of Helmond after an open call regarding industrial heritage. Instead of a simple 'in memoriam' this work elaborates on the relationship between memory and historical documents on the one hand and active manipulation and or distortion of commemoration regarding cultural heritage through public city architecture and street naming.
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