I am fascinated by the human species and a collector of personal stories. I am interested in how personal accounts reflect upon the larger narratives we are all part of. Through my art practice I have developed a more complete and diverse understanding of the complexity of the world we live in. I believe this is why I make art, and how my work is driven by everyday encounters. My neighbors, my colleagues, my students, friends, family, strangers – every single one of them has a story to tell. Every encounter is an opportunity to connect.
I grew up with a father who is an avid amateur photographer. World Press Photo books and “The Family of Men” were stacked on our shelves. Countless family albums were not only evidence of this passion, but also a record of my father’s love for the ones closest to him. This is not only how my interest in documentary photography was sparked, but also how I started to look at photography as an act of love. Later on, in my own work, I began trying to articulate this relationship between seeing and love, while at the same time, trying to capture glimpses of a shared humanity and acknowledge the vulnerable state of being human. It was a given for me to actually collaborate with people in my art, since human relationships and the way we relate are at the core of my practice. I would say that my interest in documentary practices is still reflected in the way I work. Like a documentary maker the relationship between my subjects and me is pivotal to the creation of the work. It is a careful relationship of trust. I believe we have an inherent desire to want to connect and feel connected. To recognize that simple fact in how we foster relationships of any kind is what I mean when I speak of love, acceptance or connectedness.
I was born in the Netherlands, a small crowded country under sea-level, where human nature prevailed and men made land out of water. That sense of potentiality is ingrained in my soul. I was raised with the following paradoxical doctrine: don’t stand out, acting normal is already quite crazy enough. In addition, I grew up believing in Sinterklaas, not Santa Claus, a Turkish Saint on a white horse living in Spain who makes an annual trip to my home country by boat. This is how my art making started – by crafting traditional Sinterklaas presents, products of tinkering, aimed at giving a beloved a gift with the appearance of something completely different, accompanied by a poem, serving as a mocking form of portraiture. All this is inextricably interwoven with my interest in the wide scope of manifestations of humanness and discovering potential. Early aspirations of becoming a spy, a detective, or an anthropologist are still present in my work, but the pleasure of making trumped these ambitions and I turned out to be an artist instead.