“I am interested in the process of wondering and wonder reveal”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
RdJ:I was born in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. When I was a child I wanted to be a ballet dancer, this must-have changed when I was about 13 or 14 years old when I visited a dada exhibition together with my mother. I understood very little, but I understood that art can be a play and this sparked something inside me. Then I got into dada poetry and so forth until I ended up in art school.
AT: When did it become serious?
RdJ:At 16, I started taking art classes on Saturdays at the art school in Arnhem (now Artez). I got accepted into art school at 17. There I was the youngest in the class, graduating at 22. But after art school in my 20s, I suffocated and felt completely imposturous; I was afraid to continue on a new level because I was shy and confused about being an artist or wanting to be so. In my 30s I managed to get my priorities straight.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
RdJ: I can’t answer this question because I feel like there is not one but many, it’s more like a chain reaction.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
RdJ: My first approach is to ask questions! As an artist, I see it as my task to ask questions, to wonder. I am not necessarily interested in the answers, I am interested in the process of wondering and wonder reveal. Is the existence of the photographic work object-based or image-based? How does digital materiality change the understanding of the image? What is an artwork: is an art rooted in material reality? How can I fight reality? Does material even know that it has meaning? My practice evolves around play, I play with materials, I use, I apply, I have a conversation with them. But I also like to play (as in act) being an artist. In the studio, I often have inner monologues with my inner artist! Play is the core of my practice. When there is no play, the work gets dead. Making art is a dynamic play, matter has agency; I am acting, the materials are acting, the audience is an actor, we’re playing together.
Installation view of Myths of the Marble groupshow @ Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo & The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, 2017
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
RdJ: I aim to create work that can alter the vantage-point of the viewer and that, at the same time, can serve as some sort of relief, an alternative. Something to disappear in, maybe even a shadow. I hope the viewer can experience and reflect things like art, culture, the body, humanhood, the world differently through and with my work.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
RdJ: I am interested in the idea of art. While conceptual art may be composed of ideas, its emergence in a material medium is nevertheless important, and often inevitable. Contemporary artworks need, among others: paint, canvas, plaster, resin, ceramics, wood, bronze, stone, computers, printers, data centres, epoxy, foam, rubber, cables, drywall, raw earth, lights, space, and the human body. I enjoy working with all these materials as they carry in them the physical appearance of the artwork and at the same time, they are sublimely playful, visceral, ephemeral. Paint, clay, canvas, pigment are among my favourite material friends. My favourite tool is my computer and the internet.
AT: What do you feel while working? Do you usually think about the outcome beforehand?
RdJ: Always. Making an exhibition is to me like making artwork and vice versa. I often imagine the future documentation of an exhibition as a foundation for creating the work.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
RdJ: That’s Fingerspitzengefühl
Stacked Statue, 2017, Inkjet print on dibond, 252 cm x 100 cm
Soft Inquiry XI, 2015, Ceramic and archival inkjet print on pvc, 39.5 x 25.5 x 12 cm
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
RdJ: Art history in general, the idea of art, humankind, ways of seeing art (seeing through both non-human and human eyes). Another source of inspiration is reading, swimming, and the internet.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
RdJ: When I was 14 it was Kurt Cobain and Kurt Schwitters who I fell in love, in meantime there have been many artists who have influenced me, but I think the Covid crisis has perforated my memory and when I mention one name, I will regret it later because I will forget to mention many others. So, I’m gonna stick to these two icons as they have accompanied me for 26 years, and they have influenced me deeply.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
RdJ: Let’s face it, social media is crowd-sourced surveillance and it can make lives very sad. It’s often a simulation of reality, a pimped-up version. The more the Instagram algorithm thinks I may like a post, the higher it will appear in my feed. It is influencing my ways of seeing art and it will put me in an artificial bubble. However, I choose to use it as a way to contextualize my work and as a platform to circulate my work, as well as a place to connect. When I am on there, I try to always think on a meta-level, I say to myself stuff like: ‘ooooh here comes a dopamine rush from all those 489 likes’. I try to relativize and be funny about it, simply because of those toxic elements. But yes, social media is very important to me, but I am more than my Instagram, I am a bundle of roughly 37.2 trillion cells.
AT: What is your opinion about NFTs and their impact on the art world?
RdJ: I like that artists could make some money and have control over their work. However, I think this new ecosystem is still forming. It is good that the art market is shaken up a bit, there is more transparency and certain set hierarchies are not existing in the Blockchain. The idea is exciting! But, on the NFT platforms, I see so many things I don’t want to see that I often feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, I think that plurality is the interesting part. I can’t predict where this is going, but I think the toxic structures of the art market should crumble and rejuvenate and I hope NFTs can play a role. However, overall, I try to simply focus on my work.
Sloppy Therapy 14, 2020, Print on archival paper and frame, 145 x 175 cm
Sculpted Human Skin In Rock III, 2015, Archival inkjet print on dibond, marble, 40 x 62 x 34 cm
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
RdJ: Difficult. Michel Majerus made a painting that reads: “The art world is so sad because there are these people who make you feel like you’re worth nothing or the other who think you’re a genius. I don’t like any of it.” I can connect to this.
AT: What do you find the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
RdJ: The most rewarding for me, at this moment, is working in the studio, having good, long studio days, then I am happiest. I feel rewarded to be able to create. This is at the same time also the most challenging part, to find the time for those long studio days.
AT: What do you do besides art?
RdJ: I like swimming, biking, reading, cooking
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
RdJ: Here again, due to the Covid crisis, my mashed potato brain can’t think of the future anymore. I hope to teach more at an arts university and I aim to make many works and have shows at great galleries, museums, and institutions. Pff I am so generic [smiling] But, yeah, being a good human, doing my best, making good stuff, that’s my goal.
Rachel de Joode at work.
Rachel de Joode is a Dutch-born, Berlin-based multimedia artist. She mixes mediums, particularly those of photography, sculpture and most recently, painting. Her work bounces between the physical and the virtual, exploring the relationship between the three dimensional object and its two dimensional representation. De Joode earned her diploma in time-based art from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. She was awarded the Deutsche Börse Residency at the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Frankfurt (2013) and the Sculpture Space residency (2012), as well as a residency at LMCC Governors Island (2013 – 2014) in New York. She has received funding from the Mondriaan fund, the Berliner Senat, the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds and the Royal Dutch Embassy. She is represented by Annka Kultys Gallery in London and Galerie Christophe Gaillard in Paris.