Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Leendert van der Meer.
Lives in The Netherlands
How do you describe your own art practice?
My work is built around ‘the camera’. I explore through the viewfinder, because there seems to be a completely different world out there. Next to that, I use the camera as a catalyzer within the environment. For example: I position cameras and operators on a plaza, and because the camera is a carrier of social codes, the whole scene changes. I always start very experimental, but in the end I narrow it down by staging a specific intervention or performance. By doing so, I try to get a grip on my earlier ‘discoveries’.
What was your first experience with art?
Honestly, I don’t really know. I must admit that before I did my application to the Willem de Kooning Academy, I still had no idea about the freedom of arts. I first had a different perspective of what I wanted to do with photography, but in half a year my vision completely changed: it was now all about exploring. This change of attitude also had a major impact on the way I perceived photography – which I am really glad about.
What is your greatest source of inspiration?
My main source of inspiration comes from everyday situations and scenes that transform through the use of the photographic apparatus. For example: I can be amazed by a group of tourists who rush to a building to photograph it, and because of their greediness stand on a busy road. I also find it interesting how bystanders respond to their presence. The whole dynamics of these situations raise further questions and stimulate me to examine this more closely. However, it can also be something that annoys me: a trivial conversation, the mess of others. In these situations, the camera gives me the ability to alter my perception.
What do you need in order to create your work?
Although from the previous questions one may think a camera, this is not necessarily the case. Just a couple of weeks ago I bought some stones and paint for the production of a work. However, I still ended up painting the stones into cameras for staging a new intervention. Another key element for creating work is analyzing older works. I consider the whole process of making as a continuation of earlier experiences, observations and experiments.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am working towards an exhibition in which I will show several new works. The title will be: Camera Situationism. It is a collective term for using the camera not only as a producer of images, but also of situations – and consequently behaviors. I am working on a book that combines a written essay about the construction of camera situations alongside photographic documentation of interventions in the public domain. Besides this I also produced new works varying from performance to sculpture.
What work or artist has most recently surprised you?
Mark Cohen! And that is not necessarily for the images he produces, but rather because of the way he approaches his subjects (he all of a sudden ‘shoots’ strangers with a flash and camera). A small documentary about his work made me realize how much the act of taking a photograph becomes a performance and intervention in one.