Prime Time: Archetypes of abstraction in Photography 2016

Images between Reality and Illusion
Interview by Ralf Hanselle
(German version below)

[Q] Can you describe the relationship between image and reality in your photographic works?

[A] I began pursuing a new and unusual approach in my photographic work in 2011. Back then I stopped making simple documentations of spaces. Instead of that I created the interiors in the images myself. The spaces that came about in the process were created deliberately so they’re convincing in two dimensional 
photographs as well. My working method has essentially remained the same since then: First I photograph preliminary studies using a compact camera. Then I use an 8 x 10 inch camera for the final, more richly detailed shots. The early works still had a very pronounced architectonic look at first. The intention was to awaken the impression that you could walk through the spaces in the images. The images have become more and more abstract in the meantime. They’re places somewhere between reality and illusion.

[Q] Is it generally still important for the beholder of your images whether these have a reference to afamiliar reality?

[A] Absolutely. That’s perhaps one of the most important aspects in my work: What am I seeing? Where am I? How do I behave physically towards the spaces that I see in front of me? All these are important questions. With my images I build a bridge between the space that I’m illustrating and the space in which I find myself as a beholder. I thus create a perfect lack of orientation, by playing with the perception of time, space and occurrence. All these things no longer exist as one unit in my photographs.

[Q] Before you photograph, you create artificial interiors and sculptures. Where do you get your inspirations during this work?

[A] For a number of years I’ve been deforming spaces in vacant office buildings. First I investigate whether I can reconfigure certain objects or aspects of these spaces. I use found objects for the interiors which I then photograph later. In doing so I allow myself to be entirely guided by the conditions on site. Instead of working with existing architectures, this method allows me to take a far more psychological and personal approach in an artistic work.

[Q] In contrast to the installations and interiors you start off with, the subsequent photograph is flat and two-dimensional. Does the loss of the third dimension limit you in your artistic work?

[A] No. I was trained as a photographer first. I only devoted myself to three-dimensional objects later on. Thinking in two dimensions is therefore very normal for me. I don’t feel it as a loss. But I find it exciting to create situations this way, which confuse the beholder. Beholders of my photographs find themselves in a realistic-looking space which, however, is completely artificial nevertheless.

Bilder zwischen Realität und Illusion

[Q] Können Sie die Beziehung zwischen Bild und Realität auf Ihren fotografischen Arbeiten beschreiben?

[A] Ich habe 2011 damit begonnen, einen neuen und ungewöhnlichen Ansatz in meiner fotografischen Arbeit zu verfolgen. Damals habe ich aufgehört, einfache Dokumentationen von Räumen zu erschaffen. Stattdessen habe ich die Interieurs auf den Bildern selber kreiert. Die dabei entstandenen Räume sind extra dafür 
geschaffen worden, auch in zweidimensionalen Fotografien zu überzeugen. Meine Arbeitsweise ist seither im Wesentlichen gleich geblieben: Zunächst fotografiere ich Vorstudien mit einer kleinen Kamera. Dann nutze ich eine 8 x 10 inch Kamera für die finalen und detailreicheren Aufnahmen. Die frühen Arbeiten hatten zunächst noch eine sehr starke architektonische Anmutung. Es sollte der Eindruck erweckt werden, dass man durch die Räume auf den Bildern hindurchgehen könne. Mittlerweile sind die Bilder immer abstrakter geworden. Es sind Orte irgendwo zwischen Realität und Illusion.

[Q] Ist es für den Betrachter Ihrer Bilder überhaupt noch wichtig, ob diese einen Bezug zu einer vertrauten Wirklichkeit haben?

[A] Auf jeden Fall. Das ist vielleicht einer der wichtigsten Aspekte in meiner Arbeit: Was sehe ich? Wo bin ich? Wie verhalte ich mich körperlich zu den Räumen, die ich vor mir sehe? All das sind wichtige Fragen. Ich baue mit meinen Bildern eine Brücke zwischen dem Raum, den ich abbilde und dem Raum, in dem ich mich als Betrachter befinde. Ich erschaffe somit eine vollkommene Orientierungslosigkeit, indem ich mit der Wahrnehmung von Zeit, Raum und Ereignis spiele. All diese Dinge existieren auf meinen Fotografien nicht mehr als eine Einheit.

[Q] Bevor Sie fotografieren, erschaffen Sie künstliche Interieurs und Skulpturen. Woher nehmen Sie bei dieser Arbeit Ihre Inspirationen?

[A] Seit einigen Jahren deformiere ich Räume in leerstehenden Bürogebäuden. Ich untersuche zunächst, ob ich bestimmte Gegenstände oder Aspekte dieser Räume umgestalten kann. Ich nutze das Vorgefundene für die Interieurs, die ich dann später fotografiere. Dabeilasse ich mich ganz von den Bedingungen vor Ort leiten. Statt mit bereits existierenden Architekturen zu arbeiten, erlaubt mir diese Methode einen weit psychologischeren und persönlicheren Ansatz in einer künstlerischen Arbeit.

[Q] Im Gegensatz zu den Installationen und Interieurs mit denen Sie beginnen, ist die spätere Fotografie flach und zweidimensional. Beschränkt sie der Verlust der dritten Dimension in Ihrer künstlerischen Arbeit?

[A] Nein. Ich bin zunächst als Fotografin ausgebildet worden. Erst später habe ich mich den dreidimensionalen Objekten zugewandt. Das Denken in zwei Dimensionen ist für mich also sehr normal. Ich empfinde das nicht als Verlust. Aber ich finde es spannend, auf diese Weise Situationen zu erschaffen, die den Betrachter verwirren. Der Betrachter meiner Fotografien befindet sich in einem realistisch anmutendem Raum, der aber dennoch vollkommen künstlich ist.


Unseen Magazine 2015

Interview by Sophie Wright

What first attracted you to the non-descript, in-between spaces that feature in your work? Is it an interest based on attraction or a more negative response?
I would say it's a bit of both and this is what makes them so interesting for me. I don't know whether to hate or love them, nor how to connect with them. I started with the interior series after seeing a documentary about a businessman who travelled the whole world. One day he woke up not knowing where he was. Looking out of the window didn't give him any clues. I wanted to translate this surreal experience into a series so I started taking photographs at airports all over Europe. I thought it was fascinating that there seems to be no actual place or time there. The interiors I photographed later have the same feeling; they could be a shopping mall in Shanghai in the middle of the night or a hospital in the Netherlands during the day. Not being able to relate to them was very interesting to me. Like making a sort of anti-photograph.

For some of your projects you have relocated to the building you are working in. Are your interventions based on your own psychological response to the space?
My interventions, whether they are photo-works, installations or sculptures, are definitely a psychological response to me being present in these spaces. Like my earlier work, it's always about finding a way of connecting with these kind of generic spaces, both physical and psychological. With my new work, where I deform and deconstruct empty offices, this is literally the case. By literally, I mean really turning them inside out: drilling through them, peeling off the walls, taking out the ceiling-plates and screwing the plates back on the wall.
I wanted to investigate whether I could reconstruct certain qualities of the interiors I had photographed previously. Rather than photographing existing architecture, this way of working creates a more psychological space that conveys the feeling of disconnect in a more personal and profound manner. The images create a place in-between reality and illusion, as if there is a gap between seeing what is there and what is not. I let aspects of the interior guide me, and I work with materials I encounter there. These are usually non-durable materials like sticking tiles, false ceilings or insulation material. These materials give the interiors the capability to change their identity rapidly.

Your work has followed a focused trajectory – from photographing architectural spaces, to constructing them yourself, to eloping from the photographic frame altogether into physical space itself. Why this direction?
Through my work in these empty office towers, I have gained an insight into how this same characteristic of estrangement in my photography can also be found in a space, installation or sculpture itself. In the past two years I’ve been examining how I could present this in an exhibition space. My main motivation for combining these constructed spaces and installations with my photo-works is to break a certain barrier that a photography exhibition has. After all, it is as if you look into the room through a window. By combining these three elements, a more tangible and personal experience will arise.

The next step in this journey is the photobook, which you will be showing a dummy of at Unseen this year. Could you tell us about this project?
For a few years I've been thinking about making a photobook but I always saw too many problems. In my photo-works, scale is crucial to the viewer’s experience. Besides that, I work with an 8 x 10 inch camera with makes the details in my prints so sharp it seems like you can actually touch them. I had no idea how I could get these aspects across in book form. If I just put the pictures in a book, this would completely be lost. Last summer, together with graphic designer Karin Mientjes, I came up with the idea of building an enormous maquette. This maquette represents a fictional exhibition-space where all my works are displayed. Flipping through the book will be like walking through a real exhibition.


Urbanautica 2015

by Nicolette Klerk

Tell us about your approach to photography, how it started. What are your memories of your first shots?

Marleen Sleeuwits (MS): When I was fourteen I started a photography-course at a local community centre. I mostly took portraits of friends in a home-built studio in the attic, using all my parents lampshades. I was very lucky this class was taught by a very passionate photographer. He made me explore all kind of techniques and genres and I could always use his equipment and dark room. Thinking back at it he was probably the best teacher I ever had. So after highschool it was not hard for me to decide what do next: art school. Luckily I got accepted at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague being just seventeen.

How did your research evolve with respect to those early days?

MS: Art Academy was a lot about learning techniques and writing down concepts. The downside for me was that I didn’t really learn to explore my own style and interests. This was something I missed once I got graduated and it was the reason I applied for  a master in Breda. Since then my work has followed quite a focused trajectory; from photographing architectural spaces, to constructing them myself, to eloping from the photographic frame altogether into physical space itself. It’s actually quite recently I have found my own approach and I learned to trust my intuition more. This was very liberating because my process is now much more organic: Making and thinking simultaneously, so I guess that’s much more like it was when I was fourteen.

When photography is a (sub)division: how is photography related within your work?

MS: Although photography is still very important in my work the actual ‘taking-photo-part’ is becoming less and less. Mostly I work for weeks or even months on a space: constructing, painting, drilling etc. I always take shots with a digital camera to see how things work out 2-dimensionally and once I’m satisfied I take just one shot with my 8 x 10 inch camera.

What do you think is important for the emergence of your work? What makes a picture a strong image?

MS: To me it’s important that one photo tells a specific part of the overall concept I’m trying to get across. In one work it can be more about materials and in another it can be more about scale and how you relate to space as an individual.

About your work now. Can you describe your personal research in general?

MS: I let the elements in the interior/ office building guide me and that is the starting point of my work. I work with materials I encounter there. Also I have a lot of ideas which I make sketches of or that I write down. Most of the time I start with one of these vague plans. While I’m constructing the space I always take pictures with a small digital camera to see if things work the way I want. This is seldom the case so then I keep changing the space until all pieces come together. This process is quite intuitive.

What are your considerations?

MS: In my photography and objects I research interiors in which you don’t feel connected to a specific place or time. It is a conflicted feeling that certain places can evoke inside of me.

What is your main source of inspiration?

MS: For me inspiration can come from many things. From just wandering through empty buildings to visiting a hardware store to endless surfing online.

Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, who influenced you in a way?

MS: I don’t know if I’m influenced but I have for a long time loved the work of Lynne Cohen. She also took photos of interiors which are really surreal. Nowadays I enjoy artists like Andre Kruysen, Michiel Kluiters, Katja Mater or Anouk Kruithof because they search for the boundaries of photography. They combine photography, sculpture with installation and drawing.

Tell us about your latest project ‘Interiors’

MS: Recently I have been deforming spaces in vacant office buildings. I investigate whether I can reconstruct certain qualities of the interiors I photographed previously. I let the aspects in the interior guide me when working with materials I encounter there. These are usually non-durable materials like sticking tiles, false ceilings or insulation material.These materials give the interiors the capability to change their identity rapidly.
Rather than photographing existing architecture, this way of working enables more psychological spaces to appear that convey the feeling of disconnection in a more personal and profound manner. The images create a place with something in between reality and illusion. As if there is a gap between seeing what is there and what is not. In my spatial works and installations this experience becomes even more tangible.

Which projects are you working on now and are there plans or ‘needs’ for the future?

MS: For a few years I’ve been thinking about making a photobook but I always saw too many obstacles. In my photoworks scale and the actual sizes are crucial to the experience of it. I had no idea how I could get these aspects across in bookform. If I just put the pictures in a book this important aspect of my work would completely be lost. Last summer I came up with the idea to build an enormous maquette, scale 1:6. This maquette represents a fictive exhibition-space where all my work is displayed. Flipping through the book will seem like you walk through a real exhibition. I love the idea that the maquette solves the problem of scale and even brings an a extra layer to my work.The book will be launched at the end of this year by Onomatopee Publishers. Besides this huge project I’m working on my first solo show in my new gallery FeldbuschWiesner in Berlin. This exhibition will open this coming december.

Is there any show or film you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

MS: I just saw the solo exhibition of Geert Goiris in Foam and loved it!

One to three books of photography or art that you recommend?

1. ‘Multiple densities’ by Katja Mater;
2. ‘La Hütte Royal’, 2013 by Thorsten Brinkman
3. ‘New scenes’ by Esther Tielemans

How do you see the future of photography in general evolve?

MS: I guess this world becomes more visual so I think the language of photography becomes more and more diverse and therefore more interesting.

What do you think about photography in the era of digital and social networking?

MS: Personally I use Facebook to give people insight in my process, inspiration and thoughts behind my works. I think it’s a great way to make my work more accessible. And of course I use it to tell about upcoming exhibitions.

How do you combine your work and private life?

MS: At the moment this is quite hard actually. I have a son who is one and a half years old and and I am expecting another baby in a few months. In the meantime work didn’t get any slower, so this means there just isn’t enough time for all the ideas and plans I have. I find it annoying that practical things always seem to go on and that new things at the studio come last. Also visiting exhibitions from others is something I don’t do as often as I used to but one day, one day I will have time…

Do your prefer to work alone or as a team?

MS: Most of the time I work on my own and I must admit I love it that way. Over the last  few years I occasionally have had an intern to assist me; helping out with practical matters like building installations. That’s always fun and very efficient especially in times, like now, when a lot needs to be done. At the moment I am working on my first publication and on a big solo show. Despite the fact that working together is more efficient I feel I come to better ideas when I work alone. So this is a dilemma.

So is it hard to manage all the deadlines?

MS: Actually I’m quite good in planning my work and meeting deadlines. This is because my character is quite chaotic and stressed. If I don’t organize everything very well my head is overflowing quite fast. So you won’t find me installing my work the night before an opening. The last couple of years in addition to my daily to do list I also make a schedule for one year, most of the exhibitions and big projects like the book launch are scheduled way ahead anyway, and this helps me to keep an overview.

What about locations for your works?

MS: Over the years I have made many connections with anti-squad organizations and many office buildings in The Hague are empty. If I have to leave a certain place most of the time something fitting comes along quite soon. I also try not to make to many demands and let the restrictions I find guide me to make new works.


Foam Fotografie Museum Amsterdam 2015


... Jacques Tati

For the past year I've been working on my first book publication, and in order to translate my work to the page I have created a model on a scale of 1:6. In this model I have presented my photographic works and objects (also to scale), and photographed them. These photos form the basis of the book. A task that can be disheartening at times, because if I make a cut that is half a millimetre off in the model, this will show in the photo as a half-metre, gaping hole. During this process I often thought of the movie Playtime by Jacques Tati. For this film in 1967, he recreated an entire city to scale, named Tativille. The film is about Monsieur Hulot who gets lost in this hypermodern city, but to me it is the skyscrapers, the concrete, steel, glass, and reflections that play the leading role. The result is, even today, incredibly modern and inspiring. What also intrigues me, are the photos from the making-of, where you can see how decor and reality blend together seamlessly. Cars cut out of cardboard are combined with real vehicles and entire buildings are built in perspective. For my own photographic works, I transform spaces inside vacant office buildings and try to enhance or alienate the characteristics that can be found within the space. The images that originate from this process lie between reality and illusion. With a little imagination, they could be Tativille interiors.

About Marleen Sleeuwits
Marleen Sleeuwits (1980) obtained her BA diploma from the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in 2003, and her MA from the Avans Hogeschool in 2005. Marleen Sleeuwits was chosen as one of the sixteen Talents of Foam Magazine #32 / Talent issue. Her first publication will be launched in the fall.


Website Wandering Bears 2011

We posted Dutch photographer Marleen Sleeuwits’ wonderful interior constructions on Wandering Bears back in September this year after seeing her work all over the Unseen Photography Fair Amsterdam, from gallery displays to Foam Magazine presentations as one of the prestigious Talent selections for this year’s issue. We caught up with Marleen and found out just what makes her tick, her photographic loves and those future plans.


1. Would you consider your work in any way sculptural, or do you define it purely as installation?

The spaces I create are made just to work in a flat photo. I often change one specific corner of a room and most of the time this is only interesting when seen from one specific angle. However I feel some of these constructed spaces are interesting as an installation. This is something I am starting to explore more within my new work. My framed photo works have always been very sculptural because of their physic qualities. Their size, sharpness and colours are very important. However this causes a problem as the prints have the best effect when you see them for real, standing in front of them, but less so in a book or on the internet.


2. You mentioned that you are currently working with 3D objects, what is the inspiration behind this new direction?

Actually not really 3 dimensional objects but I would like to show some of the physical interventions I make for my photographs in an exhibition itself. I feel these ‘sculptures’ will work as an installation combined with my photoworks. It’s something I am just starting to explore so there are no concrete results yet.

3. For me, your work thrives in print, hung in large spaces. What is your relation to the gallery, do you see it as the final output for your work?

It’s true that my photo’s work well in a gallery. They need a certain level of concentration. I like it that the person who looks at my work feels he can almost enter the space that is displayed. All the details in the print are incredibly sharp because I work with an 8 x 10 camera. It’s like you can really touch these things. Most of the time it results in that people walk back and forth towards the work. A gallery or museum is of course perfect for that, no distractions. Early this year my work was exhibited in an art fair in Rotterdam. This fair was situated in a office building from the seventies. It had exactly the same atmosphere as my photographs. This location worked really well combined with my exhibition, like having a double vision.


4. When you enter a space, do you have a clearly planned outcome for your image, or do you work mostly relying on instinct?

Not really. I let the aspects within the interior guide me and that is the starting point of my work. I work with materials I encounter in the spaces I portray. Also I have a lot of ideas which I make from sketches or that I write down. Most of the time I start with one of these vague plans. While I’m constructing the space I always take pictures with a small digital camera to see if things work the way I want. However this is seldom the case, so then I keep changing the space until all pieces come together. This process is quite intuitive.


5. I admire that your work presents an ‘ethos’ and direction rather than a variety of varied projects, dedicating yourself to developing this process of construction and deconstruction. Do you see yourself working in this way in the future?

Yes I’m definitely not finished with this Interior project. Thankfully my areas of attention change so it stays interesting for me as well. For instance my work has undergone a big change over the past years, from working in a photographic way to deforming and constructing my own spaces. This was a big turnaround in my way of working and thinking. But it’s true that what I am trying to communicate has not changed essentially, only the way I say it.


6. I understand you produce your images in an office building, are you able to describe this process?

I now work in my third empty office building. In Holland there are a lot of empty office buildings in this moment due to the current financial crisis.  Two years ago I started renting only one space in an office buildings. This ment I had to change the same space over and over again. (Interior no. 24 to 29) It was a very interesting process because the work became more focussed on how you perceive this space. Recently I moved into an empty office building which is 16 stories high. It feels like I have 100 blank canvasses.

7. How do you approach commissions? Do you ever feel constricted within the environments you work, given that your personal work displays a large degree of intervention and construction on your behalf?

The commissions I work on are quite diverse. Sometimes I work for architects and I can follow a building through the complete process of constructing. Also I work for product designers. Working in a commission is of course more strict then my own practice. Most of my commissioned work comes from clients who know my art work and want something with the same atmosphere. Sometimes I can use these jobs to try something out for my own work. I havent produced a lot of commissions where I constructed spaces, so hopefully the opportunity will come in the future.


8. Do you have a favourite interior / image you created?

If everything goes well, it’s the piece I just finished.


9. Can you remember the moment your practice clicked, when you understood this was the approach to photography you wanted to pursue?

It was actually quite recently that I felt that I had finally found my own language. The art academy I attended was mainly focussed on concept. Only in the last years I learned to trust more on my intuition. This was very liberating because my process is now much more organic: Making and thinking simultaneously. I feel that this suits me much better.


Foam Magazine # 32 Talent Issue 2012

Interview by Anne-Celine Jaeger

Born in 1980 in Enschede, the Netherlands, Marleen Sleeuwits did a BA at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, followed by an MA in Photography at the Art Academy of Breda (2003-2005). She currently lives and works in The Hague and is represented by Liefhertje and de Grote Witte Reus. In her work, Marleen Sleeuwits investigates the state of disconnection that arises from the spaces she has sought out, such as dead corners of office buildings, waiting rooms or empty corridors in hotels. More recently, Sleeuwits has also started constructing new environments within such spaces, using materials she finds there, such as laminate flooring, tape, sticking tiles etc.
You did an M.A. in photography at the Art Academy in Breda, following on from your BA in art. What did the M.A. course add to your photographic practice?
My Bachelor education in The Hague was mainly focused on commercial photography. I learned a lot about photography technique and presentation. After graduation I worked two years as a commercial photographer but this didn't feel like it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started the MA in Breda to find out about my own fascinations and how to work on my own projects. The best thing about Breda was the discussion. Every week some students presented their latest work to a group of students, teachers and guest teachers. With so much expertise and opinions I learned how to communicate about my work and to trust my ideas and defend them.
What first attracted you to interiors and the feelings they elicit in you?
I started to take photos of interiors when I was doing a series about airports. I began work on this series after watching a documentary about a businessman, who travelled the world for his job. He spent most of his time in convention centres and around airports. One day he woke up in his hotel and had totally forgotten where he was. Looking out of the window didn't give him any clues. He had to check his diary to find out. I thought this experience was quite surreal. It related to a feeling I sometimes have in airports or suburban areas myself. I visualized this by starting to take photos at different airports and ended up with the underground areas, such as endless labyrinths of moving staircases, hallways and waiting rooms. They almost seem to be designed to purposely disorientate. You loose all sense of direction, and usually, there is no daylight so you have no idea what time of day it is.
Interiors are common subjects, or much photographed places. How did impose your way of seeing on those spaces?
Sometimes I search for months before I even get my camera out of my suitcase. The first important element for me is that it's not instantly clear how the space is put together, such as a hallway that seems to lead nowhere or a fake wall suddenly dividing the room. Also, structures and colours are important to me. The places I photograph are mostly typically sick buildings. But my pictures are not about how horrible these places are. They are about not being able to connect with the place you are in. I need you to feel attracted to the space as well, so you don't really know whether to hate or love it. I try to achieve that by choosing spaces with attractive bright colours, interesting structures and exciting light.
Is there any manipulation done at all in your First series (e.g. layering, Photoshop to add or remove pieces) or are they as you find them, with your specific framing?
I work with an analogue camera, an 8 x 10 inch technical camera. This is not for romantic reasons; it's (still) the best way to get the sharpest image possible. When the film is developed I scan it and use Photoshop to alter whatever I feel is necessary to make the image work. Sometimes changing complete ceilings and floors and sometimes just a small detail like a spot on the floor.
My work isn't a document about certain existing places so for me this is not an issue. Another reason for me to use Photoshop is to create a certain suspense whether the place in the photo is real. By choosing carefully which traces and details I want to keep, I end up with the perfect tension. These and other technical choices like print size, sharpness in the details and structures give my photography a physical quality. I want the viewer to step inside and be able to relate physically to the portrayed space.
For your second series, where you deform or alter spaces in vacant office buildings yourself, do you know immediately what the space needs? What is your working process in deciding what the installation will be?
For this new series I don't know exactly what I want to do with a certain space before I start. I don't make sketches but experiment with the space itself and with materials already present in the building such as insulation-material, ceiling system, TL light boxes, carpet, etc. Sometimes I add things that I buy at the hardware store. This is a big turnaround in my way of working. Building the spaces myself enables me to work in a more intuitive way and to be less dependent on what I actually encounter. I am able to research a lot in a relatively short period of time, by making compositions of various materials and photographing it with a small snapshot camera and seeing if it will work in a 2D composition. Rather than existing architecture, this way of working enables me to create more psychological spaces that translate this feeling of disconnection in a more personal way.

There seem to be a number of talented young photographers emerging from the Netherlands. What do you think it is about the country and its teaching system, that's ensuring this talent is born?
I agree with you that there are many young talented photographers from The Netherlands. A lot of them make great work and experiment with the medium, combining photography with video, sculpture and installations. They come from different Art Academies from The Hague, Breda, Amsterdam and Utrecht. It seems that talents inspire and encourage each other.
Another important element is that the cultural climate for emerging artist in The Netherlands used to be very good. There were several subsidies and grants that enabled young artist to develop their work. I think this is very important because it takes time to find your own way and grow as an artist. Unfortunately due to enormous cuts on culture in The Netherlands these financial arrangements are rapidly disappearing. I fear that in the near future this fertile cultural landscape will disappear and it will be very difficult for art academy graduates to flourish.

You have taught photography at Fotogram in Amsterdam and at Beeldfabriek Rotterdam. If you were to dilute your lectures into a single message, what is the message you were most trying to get across to your students?
Finding a balance between concept and intuition. Ideally they work on both simultaneously. Students can be very vulnerable so encouraging them to make lots of work, experiment and not to think in dogmas for me is the most important.

What are you currently working on?
I've been changing and constructing spaces for over a year now. I'm definitely not finished with that. This new method made me more aware of the fact that textures and surfaces play an increasingly important role in my work. At this moment I'm very interested in working with cheap, fake, non-durable materials, such as laminate flooring, slab tiles or ceiling systems.
For me it’s conceptually interesting because they immediately refer to the places in my previous work.
At the moment I'm also working on a plan to exhibit my work in a spatial presentation. The installations I build for my photos are sometimes very interesting in themselves. I want to experiment with presenting them in combination with the photo works.

© 2017 Marleen Sleeuwits via Visura