2018 #33

In Search of Something Better

by Thomas Kuijpers

Selected by
Grolsch Residency

Melting Words

Selected by Grolsch Residency

"I usually make very rational, informed decisions, but this residency didn’t allow for that, which was intimidating at times. If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s that sometimes it’s good to do what feels right."

STARTING POINT

The first thing that struck me when I arrived in Stockholm was how organised everything is – we’re pretty used to a sense of order here in the Netherlands, but there it’s next level. I quickly understood why IKEA comes from Sweden: if you follow the manual, things go smoothly. My starting point was to begin asking locals various questions about what their ideal world would like, and more importantly, what route might take us there. I recorded these conversations, which provided a general picture of how locals feel about the state of Swedish society today.

AN INTUITIVE APPROACH

One day, when exploring my new neighbourhood, I found a frozen waterfall covered in graffiti. The next day, the text had already become illegible. I returned several times, photographing and sketching the waterfall until it thawed – a choice I would have never made in my usual way of working. The melting process alongside images of how the waterfall once looked created this strange duality, and as I conducted more interviews, several people touched upon ideas that mirrored themes in the work. With this project I had to learn how to trust my gut. I usually make very rational, informed decisions, but this residency didn’t allow for that, which was intimidating at times. If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it’s that sometimes it’s good to do what feels right. And if it turns out to suck, you can always press delete!

BRIDGING IDEAS

The final project ultimately made use of various different media, from drawings based on images to newspaper clippings, videos and photographs. I rewrote most of the conversations I had recorded into a kind of a script, providing the basis for a new video work. Two people – sitting in the same car, driving through the darkness, not seeing exactly where they’re going – spill out parts of the interviews. Sometimes the two monologues connect, creating the illusion of a dialogue – a bridge between two ideas that might come together, but then drift off again.

THE COST OF FREEDOM

Something that becomes clear when you look at Sweden with a fresh pair of eyes is that freedom comes at a cost. The willingness to pay this price – to follow the manual and stay between the lines – is a beautiful thing. Personally, though, I’m more of an “outside the lines” type of guy!

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Thomas Kuijpers

Amsterdam, NL

Thomas grolsch unseen 16

Thomas Kuijpers

Amsterdam, NL

In a post-truth world, Thomas Kuijpers (b. 1985, the Netherlands) investigates how images shape divisive narratives. Working across a wide range of mediums, Kuijpers frequently makes use of archival material in his practice. Recent projects have focused on ISIS and the threat of international terror, as well as the rise of radical populist movements in Europe. The artist regularly embarks on intensive research projects which have encompassed delving into alt-right internet forums and interrupting the body language of political leaders through their handshakes. Thomas Kuijpers graduated from the Master of Photography programme at St.Joost School of Fine Arts and Design in Breda.

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