Pretending to be Dewi Bekker
4 September 2022 - We start with our Dewi Bekker. Each member makes a work of art that Dewi would or could have made, including an artist statement.
My name is Dewi Bekker, and I am here to play. You might think you are a reasonable grown up. I am sorry to tell you: you are not. You are as irrational, as playful, as fickle as your 6-year-old self.
Yes, you are right, you’ve built up some sort of identity. Over the years, you delicately created a story about you. A you-story shaped by thousand and one social interactions, carefully mimicking the people around you. Not to mention the attempts you made to be not like the boring others; these were formative too. Remember the plenty of short introductions about you and your life at birthday parties, after which you felt great or miserable. Or the numerous applications in which you chose the right framing to tell about your professional life. You’ve tried many outfits, haircuts – until you’d decided this one is fine for now. Congratulations on your haircut.
Every now and then you feel thrilled about this glossy you-story. My god, it sounds so coherent and true.
Today we celebrate your storytelling ability. We are playing a game. And you are about to invent the rules of this game. Everything is this room is ready to be identified, to be wrapped in one of your smooth stories. I know you can do it.
Don’t forget to actually play the game after you’ve set the rules. Please touch the brick.
Hi, I’m Dewi. I like art, road cycling and beautiful plastics. I’m wearing funny socks, police pants and red lipstick. Tomorrow I may be very different from today. And you may may so too. When I talk to your mother I am someone else then when I talk to you. And you too. Whenever I’m in a different situation, I’m a different person. Does that make me less real? Or is it just fun and smart? And if my environment influences me so much, isn’t my environment more me than I am myself? It’s an interesting thing that people have so many different appearances. You could also call them alter egos. Everyone has an infinite number of them. Some are regulars, others only appear on the scene once. I think clothing plays a big part in this. It can be an aid to clarify and present your alter egos. You are then your alter ego together with your clothes. To the people around you, your clothes and you together are the person you are.
One alter ego of mine that is regularly revealed is my artist alter ego. It’s actually there almost every day. When that time comes again, I like to make things that investigate what an alter ego exactly is. Where does it begin, and where does it end? And can you make an alter ego very precisely yourself? Even if it’s just for a while.
The alter ego is an important theme within my practice. The changeable nature of the presented self and our tendency to constantly refine it and even wipe it completely off the table, fascinate me. The representation of the self is in my opinion an important issue in current society where identity, partly by the internet, can be shaped and judged in a blink of an eye. People perceive themselves as being a profile, a self-curated set of characteristics or an avatar. Identity is almost like a year-round performance where everyone is writing a script for the self in which the self is ambiguous depending on the situation. This curating of the self intrigues me. The way we shape our (visual) identity might cause polarisation, alienation, detachment, distance and hostility (seeing someone as a ‘thing’) but might as well cause familiarity, compassion and open up dialogue (seeing someone as a ‘human’).
Through my work I am searching for the tipping point from ‘human being’ to ‘thing’ and the roles people take on towards these opponents. I explore this by working with the human body, objects, sculptures and material/techniques like silicones, polyurethane, textile, casting, and handicrafts. This enables me to move between tactility, familiarity and alienation and to examine material in relation to the human body.
A Monument of Folly is an ode to the relation between the court jester and the alter ego. The medieval court jester and their bauble might be irrelevant in nowadays society but their dynamics and spirit isn’t. The jester openly plays different roles without masking it, is a scapegoat and a mascot at the same time and is therefore seen as unpretentious and harmless. This allows the character to speak freely, to mock and criticize, and to cross cultural, religious, political and social lines.
My work revolves around the malleability of the self. The alter ego is central to my work. Using the human body, alienated everyday objects and fashion, I explore the universe of the alter egos and its complexity. Our appearance determines the identity that we reveal to the other and this may be subject to change. The changeable nature of the presented ‘I’ and our tendency to constantly refine it and even wipe it completely off the table, fascinate me.
A court jester, the official prankster at a monarch’s court, is the perfect representation of the alter ego. Mostly jesters gave bad news and speak their mind to the King that no one else would dare to deliver or speak out. For the worst cases the jester would switch to its scepter, which stands for the alter ego of the jester or sometimes the alter ego of the King himself. The scepter could speak freely without being judged or punished.
The ten-nosed suit shows the diversity of the jester’s role. His freedom of expression, prankster of the monarch’s court and representation of the common people and you.
Mimicking Anouk van Klaveren
11 September 2022 - Next in line is Anouk van Klaveren. Becoming a real Anouk van Klaveren all members started crafting small, functional looking objects. Writing their artist statements as-if they are Anouk led to some beautiful proze.
I’m an artist that goes with the name Anouk van Klaveren. But a name is just a name. It is just a label to aim to understand the world around us and to make sure they fit in the structures in which we believe. When I start questioning all this and deconstruct it into systems and beliefs, everything starts to fall apart; it all comes to interpretation.
An artist can be multiple things and by being multi-interpretable it is hard to categorize them. Someone will be called an artist depending on the references of the viewer. To someone I might be an artistic genius but to the other I might be the girl next door pretending she is an artist. But does it all really matter? Isn’t artisthood a myth in itself?
I like to create and to collect objects and phenomena that are ambiguous. Because they are hard to categorize it raises questions about function, value and truth. By giving my work names I am able to charge the object with a certain function, value or truth.
You see, as an artist it is pretty easy to be a trickster.
Act 1: The mascot and the scapegoat is the first act in a series of performative pieces. Depending on your point of view I could be cheering for you or I could be the one that you can blame for anything.
My name is Anouk van Klaveren (1991), working in The Hague. I am attracted to objects I don’t understand. I enjoy looking at seemingly useful objects of which the function is unclear to me. I like to collect these enigmatic objects, in physical form, or by photographing them. Over the years I’ve built up an impressive archive of them. Some of them I encountered at flea markets, in the home of friends, in ethnographic museums, in churches, at online fora such as whatisthisthingcalled.com. The objects hint to be some kind of tool, kitchen utensils, toys for some animal or kid or adult, particles of a machine or relics.
Despite their mystical appearance, they probably make sense within the everyday routine or rituals of a stranger. They belong somewhere, within an exotic belief system based on ideals that still need to reach us.
When I make art, I search for this mixed feeling of enigma and familiarity. The objects I make seem part of a myth or ritual where neither of us – you nor me – takes part in. Maybe this new belief will reach both of us some day.
Hi, my name is Anouk. The best way to describe myself would be as an undercover operator.
To go “undercover” is to avoid detection by the entity one is observing, and especially to disguise one’s own identity or use an assumed identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization to learn or confirm confidential information or to gain the trust of targeted individuals to gather information or evidence.
Since the day I started creating art I have had two questions that haunt me. "What is fashion?" and "Why isn’t everything shiny?".
Through my work I’m exploring fashion as a system of unwritten rules, fascinated about how garments and objects embody normative structures. I perform undercover operations within these systems. A good example is one of my ongoing operations Peach Tree, Ambiguous: a research project mapping production processes of value and meaning in the spiritual void around luxury goods.
PROJECT 000 000 – The artist with the Shiny objects shows my utensils as an undercover operator such as masks, various specialized tools, personal belongings, disguises and various unknown and shiny objects.
The magpie came into my life a while back with a beautiful message.
She feels magnetically drawn to everything that glows and shines.
Magpies have traditionally been associated with good fortune. Yet this luck is not thrown into the lap of the magpie; she just has a good eye for it and sees the gem shining in the dung heap.
Be open to omens, your happiness is hidden in these subtle messages. The golden opportunity knocks at your door, will you let it in?
Magpies are curious and have a reputation for getting their hands on whatever they can drag, no matter the consequences. This energy and strength are often pitfalls of the magpie.
But of course this isn’t just about stuff.
Making myself beautiful is also part of this. By doing this I bring myself into a completely different energy. The sweatpants vibe is also nice sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but dressing yourself up and beautifying yourself for the day, brings a whole different energy with it that is perfect for me right now.
Dress for the life you want to live.
Imitating Christa van der Meer
18 September 2022 - We all imitate Christa van der Meer.
Hi, I’m Christa and I am a person. I am pointing this out because having a name doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dealing with a human being. I could have been an animal, car, blow-dryer, bike or plant that goes by the name Christa.
I am fascinated by the fact that we treat objects and other living things as if they are human. We give them names and project our feelings on them. We empathise with anything that has some googly eyes stuck on it. We like to dress up animals and dolls just because we project our needs onto them.
I like animals dressed up as humans and humans dressed up like animals. It might sound like it is just about the cute-factor, but I mainly see it as a fascinating absurdity; our society is so human centered.
In my work I explore this phenomenon. To what extent are we able to empathise with non-human things? Can we stretch those borders? And why do we perceive our human projection as normal?
To disturb the self-evidentness of this projection I like to integrate unexpected elements into my work; spontaneous and unpredictable movement, clashing colour combinations, the cute and the grotesque and I name my works after candy. Laffy Taffy is no exception to this. It refers to both the texture of the taffy as well as its embodiment of silliness: short, question-and-answer-style jokes are printed on the outside of each wrapper, such as “What do you call a cow with no legs? – Ground beef”.
Welcome to my family house, where my plants, friends and a family of other characters live.
In recent history I graduated as a fashion designer, being interested in constructing identity with clothing. I used to express this in the context of Paris Fashion Week, but have become increasingly critical of the clothing industry. The way it functions at the moment I don’t feel like participating in it at all.
Together with the collective Das Leben am Haverkamp we are escaping and that is very nice. We now run a project space in which we approach fashion in a different way. Not as a commerce, and our audience is not a customer. By putting more personal stories first, I want to investigate the value of clothing and fashion.
My current work is about the anthropomorphic. I find it fascinating that as humans we tend to project human qualities onto things. Therefore I love scarecrows: a figure that takes shape by filling up our discarded clothes must represent a human being. Its aim is opposed to that of fashion: instead of seducing, it should repel. Not because the birds find it so scary, but because we think that birds find it scary. I like how scarecrows look like us, but are also a kind of monstrous variant of us. They are also the most anti-capitalist manifestations of clothing; constructed of what is already there and created by the user herself.
The first one of my family of scarecrows is here on show. Say hello to Turner!
Well hello there! So nice of you to read my artist statement, enjoy. My name is Christa, I would describe myself as a visual investigator.
While reading this, you feel the texture of the paper in your hands and you smell the ink. Be gentle to the paper, don’t wrinkle it too much, you might hurt it. Its name is Peter. This might sound funny, but I put a lot of love into this paper and you probably have got objects too that you love and care about. Everybody identifies with objects and projects feelings onto them. Maybe you feel sympathy for your favourite pair of trousers, your plant or the bell on your bike.
Anthropomorphism and personification both have ancient roots and have always interested me. Within my work I create objects that look alive, might have feelings and sometimes are able to dance.
I see myself as a creator of creatures: I bring objects to life. The objects then don’t care about me and start to live a life of their own; what I see, or what my intentions were, will be blurred.
The waving triplets is an installation of forever-cheering figures: sometimes (accidently) making friendly, scary or amazed gestures.
My name is Christa van der Meer (1988). I experience this mysterious urge to create creatures out of all sorts of materials. It started as a two dimensional affair, by drawing and collage making. While playing around with colours, shapes and proportions a character emerges from it and starts to speak to me.
Lately I started to notice that I also detect personalities in all sorts of objects around me. Apparently it’s a human quality to recognize a friend or an enemy when we only perceive a glimpse of them. This sometimes results in accidently seeing the face of Jesus in a piece of toast, an animal in a coffee stain or reading an emotion in the headlights of a car. Neuroscience calls it pareidolia; the illusory perception of non-existent faces.
With my work I commit myself to these non-existing identities. I’ve made figures out of bananas and raisins, fabric and wind, rattan and robes. By articulating their body postures and faces, I give them a chance to come alive and be recognized by others too.
So these entities in this room are just a few assemblies I did. They are very clear because I isolated them for you. But don’t get me wrong; many of these creatures live with us without us paying attention to them. I want to encourage you to find them in the streets and in your home, and after you find them – please – don’t forget to love them.
Wanting to be Gino Anthonisse
18 September 2022 - We all want to be Gino Anthonisse. As Gino, we bring back wonder into the corporate world.
Hi, my name is Gino and I make art. I explore the role of wonder within my work by creating an alternative reality. For me, wonder does not just stand for amazement or curiosity, but for an encounter with reality where nothing is as it seems. An exercise in free fall.
In ever-changing scenes I try to make the viewer reflect on this or I let them take part in a story by working with narrative elements.
I often use recognizable objects that immediately give the viewer a certain feeling or which they can relate to, such as; everyday utensils, clothing, shapes or postures.
These elements and objects arise from fascinations with uniformity, group identity of subcultures and stereotypes, but also status symbols and relics. For example, ‘the office life’ symbolizes uniformity for me, where amazement has been lost because humanity often transforms into procedures, models and (hierarchical) structures. That’s why it has such a strong appeal to me. By working with visual elements from this culture, I want to reflect on this.
I see my work as a collection of objects that can be used again and again in new scenes. The collection consists of self made or second-hand utensils and clothing, stock photos, cast-off body parts, but also body parts and objects modeled and made of ceramics.
My name is Gino Anthonisse (1988), and in my work I search for lost wonder.
Life became very boring in the contemporary West, after we started to see ourselves as managers of the world.
Magic does not exist anymore; there is science and there is money. And there is bureaucracy; a strange reality on its own, which is hard to escape after we created a system in which the whole world is categorized, labeled and described.
The classical mens shirt, for me, is a symbol of this bureaucratic life without uncertainties. It represents the habits and the hierarchies which dominate our society, and is therefore my favorite target.
But underneath the surface of administration and knowing, there is an ocean of the unknown, and with my work I tap into it. By mixing two dimensional stock photos with ceramic elements and office clothes I search for optical illusions and a surreal experience. I create scenes in which the objects become props and bodies.
Met je dikke Zuidas-buik is a scene about the manager of a recruiter of a manager of an investor of a manager of a managing director, who manages his employees from the beach in the Bahamas. His shirts are left in the office, so his managers can take a little nap during their break, and still smell his hard work.
Please rest a bit on the manager’s belly. You must have had a tiring day visiting all this art.
Hi, I’m Gino Anthonisse and I am not an optical illusion.
In my practice I create alternative realities by combining sculpture, clothing, references to office-life, ceramics and 2D-artworks. I work with a lot of different techniques that I try to master. By mastering those techniques, I can work with optical illusion and I can mimic objects in such a way that it is hard to believe it is not an original.
It leaves the audience in awe. It is exactly what I aim for; handing my audience their childlike wonder back. By mastering the techniques and controlling materials that I work with, I strive for perfection. I work my materials like a magician and I master the techniques like the Avatar masters airbending.
By executing everything to perfection I give my audience their lost wonder back but does that equal my lost wonder as well? I usually admire artists that create work that embraces the imperfect and the spontaneous. Isn’t it a weird contradiction that I am, as an artist, not embracing this myself?
Maybe I should give it a go, and for this time I will master the imperfect and embrace the spontaneous. Mastering the imperfect questions my urge to perfection while it simultaneously uses the references and techniques I usually work with.
It is a practice in looking away and controlling my nerves.
I’m not telling you who I am. I prefer to keep you at a respectable distance from where I can get to know you quietly without having to converse with you. It’s not meant to be rude. I want the best for you.
In all modesty, I create an alternative reality in which I will trick you like a magician. By doing so I try to bring a sense of wonder back into your life. For me, wonder does not just stand for amazement, awe or curiosity, but for an encounter with reality where nothing is as it seems – an exercise in free fall. I also like to wonder myself. My imagination is out of this world, to the point that I still think I have a chance of becoming a real mermaid someday.