The Meijburg Art Commission: Interview With An Artist

by Unseen May 12 2016

At last year’s Unseen Photo Fair, Dutch artist Anouk Kruithof (b. 1981, The Netherlands) was chosen as the winner of the Meijburg Art Commission. Kruithof was given a project fund to produce a work for the office and art collection of Meijburg & Co. On Monday the 25th of April the artist unveiled the result of the commission: a photo-sculpture developed using images from Meijburg & Co’s archive. She talks to Unseen about the ideas behind Unshielded Window.

What were your initial ideas for the Meijburg Art Commission? How did the project develop?
For the photographic sculpture I wanted to work with the image archive of Meijburg & Co. I made a selection of meaningful images, which show, memorize and place attention on Meijburg’s history, as well as looking at the company’s future. During the process of this project I decided to blur all the received photographs in Photoshop.

Tell us a bit about the ideas behind Unshielded Window.
Unshielded Window is quite metaphoric, talking about when official institutions blur passports or personal documents. This also occurs in photography: the window for openness and the shield for closure, the idea of protecting unshielded windows somehow, which is why you would blur or keep these documents private. I also like to work with the blur because I have done so in the past in my last project #Evidence.

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You’ve used image archives before in your work for several projects. How did you approach working with this kind of archive that you didn’t choose? How did it influence the final piece of work?
I’ve used an image archive as a source to develop a project many times, this one was rather small and consisted of roughly 75 photographs. For #Evidence, I worked screenshots out of the Instagram accounts of 81 different American institutions, government agencies and corporations. These images are basically only the festivity side of things.

The images I used for Unshielded Window tell the story of the company’s history in a poetic manner. You know that the images are still there: it’s still the prints of all of those photographs except they make you think in a more abstract way. It becomes like a game, but there are also other things to discover, like the colours and the materiality of the sculpture.

What is interesting about the process of a commission compared to developing your own work?
What I like about it is that you can be a little more secure. With your own work, you think about how it’s going to be defined, interpreted and judged. Working for a commission has much more of a purpose: it feels semi-applied. It’s more concrete: it’s an office, and  you develop an idea that somehow fits within that space. So it’s clearer to have an idea that matches this company. There’s a deadline, there’s a better framework. It gets done, it has a solid reason. In that sense, I like it but with your own work it’s really unknown up until the moment your work gets a purpose out of the studio. In my case, I just make work and am always busy developing ideas even if there is no purpose.

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