from Ghent/ Belgium
I’m a visual manipulator of the body as we know it.
Creating your own visual language by means of images, manipulating and controlling the matter, completely fascinates me while creating a new piece of art.
My starting point is a fascination with the human body and how we relate to that body. I take the body out of its context and it becomes something new.
Body parts are reduced to objects and shapes that are combined to make up a larger mass of bodies. Ultimately we are all flesh and blood. The body is often sexualized.
Everybody undergoes multiple changes in their body. From child to young adult to adult and to senior. Lots of those changes make us dwell more on the body and its needs and desires.
Although this lust and desire is often a topic when the naked body is used or presented. It is not what drives my work.
I want to remove the sexualisation completely and disconnect the body from its known shape and form.
The body is too often sexualized. The continued sexualisation of the body overpowers our viewpoint. Which takes away our ability to see the body purely as a body and a form.
That is why I strive to reinvent the body and challenge this viewpoint. Pulling the overly sexual gaze away from the viewer.
As a spectator we tend to look for recognition. We always want to understand what we are looking at.
For example, if skin colour is spotted in a work we want to know which part of the body we are presented.
This is something I try to incorporate in my art. This constant need to search for recognition. I make the recognisability unrecognizable.
This way I create pareidolia.
Things you think you see or recognize are not actually there. As human beings we need to seek for recognition quickly and look for familiarity.
These feelings are born from us primal instincts that made us able to see quickly if someone is friend or foe, smiling or looking to attack.
That urge and instinct to read a situation quickly leads the spectator or rather misleads the spectator.
I acquire my footage by distributing ‘Open calls’. Models can register with me to anonymously submit a part of their body in front of my camera. The models determine how my work will look like. Some models choose to share a lot of their body; others share scars and stories. It often happens that models share body parts that they would otherwise not show, mentally ‘give’ them away to me to work with and create something new. Currently I have spread the ‘Open call’ twice. 1 time in Bruges and 1 time in New Orleans.
Often times I scrutinize my posts in great detail to try to understand what Instagram will censor and what will be seen as acceptable for their community standards. But I have become more careful with the latest warnings that my account would be deleted.
Images that I am sure would become censored, I choose to censor myself first. It is and remains a free platform to share images. The rules of censorship should apply toeverybody equally.
As an artist with the message to de-sexualize it is very hard to then be censored for having sexual context.
There is currently a ban on sex workers, I disagree that they should be taken away from the platform. I follow some strippers on Instagram who seem to be able to get away with a lot more explicit content and imagery then I could. It makes me wonder how this is possible.
I certainly do not disapprove of these accounts, but what are the rules we have to adhere to?
Enough followers = more privileges? By shadow banning and other forms of censorship that already affects us as artists we cannot achieve a bigger following to challenge the rules.
Particularly if our accounts are being threatened with bans and deletion.
As an artist with the message to de-sexualize the body, even making it unrecognisable, it is very hard to hear that my work gets censored because of the sexual context. I understand that there should be certain rules and guidelines, but they should apply to everyone equally. When I scroll through my Instagram feed I regularly see things I would get censored for.
Upcoming shows and projects
My upcoming shows are the 22nd in April in Bruges and 2 summer expos’ where I will be participating in Lier and Dendermonde. In October I am developing a new interactive work for an exposition in Sint-Niklaas which I am also curating.
It will be a double thematic expo around ‘the makeable body’ and ‘Passion/obsession’. An expo where art from outsider artists will be combined with other passion artists.
For the new work that I am developing for ‘the makeable body’ I will be organising a new open call with a focus on diversity in society.
The goal is to create pillows from collected body parts and allow the public to create their own body of bodies with my work.
Besides expo’s I am still working on creating a pop-up book with my bruises archive named ‘the book of bruises’. This is an on-going project as my archive continues to grow. The pop-up book will contain 2 parts. 1 part will focus on working with different coloured plastic to change the bruises or even make them disappear when looking through them. The other part will focus on the bruises as landmarks and will create maps and routes the bodies went through.
‘Bokashi Be’ is a past duo-exposition that might interest you. The focus for the expo was dealing with censorship and self-censorship as an artist in Belgium. The second part for this project would focus on Japan and the hard censorship artist’s experience there even in museums.
For the duo-exhibition I investigated the censorship that I experience through social media in a playful way. I tried to play with making the parts they would censor even more vague or show them even more explicitly in the exposition.
Bokashi translates focuses on the pixilation of genitals in Japanese porn.
Together with artist Jo Michiels we explore these boundaries and want to research how we would cope with this censorship. Together we started ‘Bokashi be’ with the aim to organise a ‘Bokashi JP’ in the future.
In Belgium we can show our work undisturbed and uncensored in museums, this is not the case in Japan. Artists may not show genitals whatsoever in their work.
What are the boundaries and how do we deal with self-censorship?
In the ‘Bokashi Be’ expo I experienced the consciences of censorship from social media. I was unable to actively promote the Facebook event, much of the footage from the expo we couldn’t share, but the expo itself could go on without any issues.