We are proud to present you today with an interview with the Dutch photographer Fleur van Dodewaard (1983), a Foam Talent from 2011. A photo from her 'Sun Set Series', presented in the Foam Magazine #28 / Talent issue, is of special importance to Unseen: '05' has been the basis of our campaign image until now. New work by Van Dodewaard will be brought to Unseen by Seelevel Gallery.
Can you tell us a little about when/how you started taking photographs, your approach to photography and a little about your work in general?
Before enrolling in the Photography Department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie I finished a bachelor in Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam and studied 1 year of Visual Arts at the Royal Academy in The Hague. I (re-)encountered the medium of photography through this initial interest in theatre, or staged reality, and creating 3-dimensional spaces and objects in Fine Arts. In order to create a photograph I use all different forms; I stage, build, paint, shape, compose. Besides sailing into art-historical forms, ideas, and works, relating different art forms, creating my interpretations and a fictional image, I use the medium of photography as a reflective tool. It functions as an eye that is simultaneously turned in- and outwards. It looks at itself, in its surroundings, in a mirror. Adding this ‘eye’ to the 3-dimensional form gives me the opportunity to take the ambiguous position of the creator and viewer in one.
Scenery Studies #1, 2012 © Fleur van Dodewaard/Seelevel Gallery
What gets your creativity flowing?
I like going to the opera and theatre, read poetry and books, visit exhibitions, look at catalogues and historical/amateur photography, read art-history/theory. This is where I find my inspiration. But it doesn’t mean the work has to be good in order to like it. I can get inspired by a very bad artwork or a single line from a book. It’s often a small element that triggers a new thought or search.
What do you wish to communicate with your photos? What would you like people to take away from your work?
The only thing I could say about that is hoping to communicate some of the same state of wonder, thought and excitement I find myself in while researching my subject and creating the image. The image, pointing towards its construction, to me as creator, to the world of images, questions the way we look and have been looking at things over time, the re-use of imagery and calls attention to the relationship between the object and the photograph in question. Simultaneously it creates a kind of fictional world, which all hopefully stimulates the process of reflection and imagination of the viewer.
Your work has often been described as emphasizing the mediated and imaginative character of photography. Do you wish to draw the viewer’s attention to the (on the first view) unseen aspects of your photos? What is your way to create new, unseen meanings for your photos?
I would rather say the ‘unseen’ elements in my work lay outside the image. The photograph, besides being an autonomous object, also carries a sort of play of associations towards art-history and image-making. I would be happy to trigger the viewer’s own references within that framework.
Sun Set Series, 2011 © Fleur van Dodewaard
How do you see collecting photographs? Are you a collector yourself? What about the importance of prints in relation to collecting: in today’s image-laden world, what makes a physical photo so valuable?
I am very much a collector of images (but perhaps not in the way you mean); reproductions of paintings and sculptures, historical/amateur photographs of people and objects, advertisements, photographs of artist studios, and everything else that strikes my attention. I collect them from books, newspapers, internet etc. I cut it out, reproduce and/or print it, hang it on the wall or keep it in an (rather messy) image-archive. I see it as an important part of what I do. The desire to poses, the image as well as the depicted object, is, for me as well as the rest of the world, very strong. But I’ve never really understood the confusion between the physical and the digital photograph; to me it’s two different worlds that exists next to and complement each other.