The research for The Maiden Element started two years ago with a research of the death of young girls. Death carries a tragic significance that gains an even more dramatic weight when related to children. The conceptual and situationist elements resonating in Emily’s work sublime the raw effect of this reality.
‘Feminine objects and faces, full of light and darkness, fall, float and freeze in a white void. Guided by rules of a game with private categories, I may have found it, an inkling of what could be called the maiden element, something mesmerizing that has the tendency to surpass the boundaries of life and death.’
This is a research on the idiom of the Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz (1921), pencil drawing the semiotic relationship and interaction between symbols (objects) and clusters (clouds) of other types of words in his work.
Landmarking took place in Switzerland (Berner Oberland, 2008), The Netherlands (Amsterdam, 2008 and Heiloo, 2011), Germany (Berlin, 2010) and USA (Walden, 2006–2010). The next Landmarking space will be a route, based on studies of old ‘leylijnen’, starting in the North of the Netherlands.
Collecting Evidence is a selection of photographs, films, artists books and works on paper from the period 2004–2010, that was presented at C&H Art & Design, the home of Cosimo di Leo Ricatto and Hanneke Huisman.
A catalogue was made, serving as a model for the classic square shaped 20 x 20 cm Artists Book series C&H art space started to publish from that moment on for most of their shows.
I created a narrative, a parody on a topmodel contest, about a girl called Hannah who has hands of unprecendented spiritual power. At least, she thinks so. I started to roam local schools, searching for young girls of age thirteen to play the part of a girl auditioning for a fictive handmodel’s contest. Writing letters, sending them to a local newspaper, telling the newspaper it is fiction, making the letters real and more real. Thirteen girls showed up at the photo shoots, wearing a ‘wristband’ that expressed their commitment to the project and to me. I started to wear mine the second I was convinced they would show up. That was when one of the girls during the ‘auditions’ asked me if her hands were ‘beautiful enough’ to participate in my competition. I realized there was no way I could destroy the power of illusion I was bringing to life.
‘From 2007 to 2009 I worked in a studio in the Southeast suburban area of Amsterdam on the ground floor of a typical Bijlmer ‘honey comb’ high-rise building. Witnessing the intricate choreographed game of dealing, I got to know some of the ‘junkies’ who lived in a housing project called ‘Domus’. Homeless drug users with a lot of ‘police encounters’ are offered a room and treatment program by The Salvation Army.’
From the text Dancers and Runners / Tracing the Mother Key
Morpheus: ‘Do you believe in fate, Neo?’
Morpheus: ‘Why not?’
Neo: ‘Because I don’t like the idea that I am not in control of my life.’
Morpheus: ‘This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.’
From the film The Matrix (1999), Wachowski brothers
If man was made of bread, would birds dare eat him?
The Breadman Project explored the troublesome relationship between birds and humans in the city, focusing on the fragile hierarchical order amongst birds, symbolic of the sociocultural construction of society.
‘I baked a human-sized bread doll and transported it every Sunday for three months to different [sub]urban areas of Amsterdam. Placed in open spaces next to apartment buildings, the attack and consumption of Breadman was watched by local residents and passers-by as a public execution. This series of temporary sculptural performances, with ritualized movements is inspired by pagan bread sacrifices for fertility and better fortune.’
The installation (moe) – tired – did not purely aim to aestheticize illness. Much more it wanted to show the viewer what it is like to live in bed, to have a restricted view and to barely be able to walk. The beauty of this existence is made visible in analogue black and white photography, video patterns, and in a room where the viewer can repose to find motionlessness and rest. An online version was made in which ME patients from all of the Netherlands and elementary school students from Amsterdam Oud-Zuid participated. The audience visiting (moe) return to their own world with an increased level of perception.
Cooperation with performer Anita Kooij. Online installation made by Carst van der Molen.
‘By means of the four wind directions, my daily routes and rituals, memories and spiritual desires I examine the conditions for a viable mystic experience. New protective gods arise during photograph sessions of friends, I develop a new language by fixing evocations from a pictural entrance. The free expressions of a personal religious experience are abstracted by expiring a cyclic compass.’
Photography (polaroids, analogue prints, hand drawn contact prints), blood ink toll drawings, artist log with spiritual evocations.
‘Traveling the IJ ferry back and forth I observed the other passengers, waiting, day dreaming, dozing of. My goal was to find one model and ask him to pretend this journey was going to be his last one. By selecting this one person, the rest of the passengers became witnesses of the photo shoot. The photo essay was completed with an artist’s log, notes on the art of drowning, a brief romance between ferry boat and water wave, childhood memories of my fear of swimming under water, thoughts on the reality of the Loch Ness monster.’
Stil water was shown at a group show with a central theme on the new prestigious ‘Noord/Zuidlijn’, a huge subway project connecting the northern part of Amsterdam with the rest, causing a lot of local political turmoil and disbalanced houses in the city’s oldest areas.
What happens when we leave our home and step outside? Despite protection devices and watchers (sunglasses, suit cases, dogs, walkmans, goals, destinations etc.) we enter moments of unexpected vulnerability, even in our own closed and known environment.
‘Accompanied by my new, nervous dog I started to see people I never saw before. A guy who talked to himself or a woman walking funny. They seem to have been there forever, hidden like shadows, cutting themselves loose from the environment. As did buildings, a to be torn down hospital in my neighborhood, with the last lights pouring out of the window. A terrain vague surrounding it, gates with holes, homeless people or squatters on the inside for a while, as long as it was possible.
One of the other actions I undertook was stalking; a way for me of connecting for a while with a total stranger, guarded by his dog. I ‘met’ them week after week on the train to my job as an editor for a homeless magazine and since they incorporated a daily route of mine, I decided to enclose them even more.
The found ‘crafty’ work of the two penguins, standing next to a hole in the ice, depict the danger of living outdoors, and the dependency of the baby on his mother. Not learning how to survive means dying in this world.’
After 9/11 fear of terrorist threat led to extra
caution by the governments, national and local.
‘With Zero artist Carst van der Molen, and local residents, I created a new narrative, telling the tragic story of the thirteen year old boy Hansl, who is convinced a new war is coming. His proof is a chain of simple signs in the streets and changed behavior from his loved ones. White dogs waiting for the attack, his mother Hannah coming home late from work. The milk supplier at the supermarket entering voluntary service. Hansl’s world is a reversed post-Fordian nightmare, since everything he sees has a irrefutable connection with his beliefs. The public was invited to participate in an after curfew living room, listening to records from the old days, sharing meals.’
The performance The Queen of Death celebrated the mourning spirit of war widows but also questioned archetypical domestic female and archaic male (wartype) behavior.
‘Observing is a continuous action on the battle field:
use eyes and ears all the time. Never loose sight of the enemy!’
Handboek voor de soldaat (The soldier’s handbook), edition 1988