Hilde Cornelissen Interieur
What is home for you? Because there are so many students that just graduated, and people are moving in between places at the moment.
I think that artists are always looking to have options for homes, you know? Maybe it’s a part of the reason why they want their works to be shown in different places and not specifically where they came from. Unlike many other professions that are bound to a geographical location, there’s the option to expand yourself – if not physically, so through your art. It’s a benefit that also confuses you.
I’m originally from Tel Aviv, so there’s this inner voice that says it’s the place for me, but regarding work I find more opportunities in Europe at the moment. So for now, a ‘home’ for me is the search for one.
Yes of course, also where your studio is based. Do you develop your photography work at your home? Or do you have a studio?
I had a studio in Tel Aviv for a long time which I left before moving to Belgium, where I mainly stored works. I used to work mainly outside, but Covid really changed everything and I found myself developing work from home, from an isolated environment in a sense. I believe it is felt in the project that I developed recently, there is something domestic in its nature. I worked on it from my apartment in Antwerp at the time, which was old and had a lot of wood in it. Somehow the aesthetics of the house influenced the aesthetics of the works.
In the last two years I found the benefits in this isolation, even in the lockdowns. It’s not easy on a personal level but with creating work you can really invest and lose yourself.
So you sense this in your master project?
Yes. Actually it started before, in the first lockdown in Tel Aviv. I couldn’t really work outside and exhibitions got postponed or cancelled… I began to create many collages made out of art books and catalogues in my apartment and shared them online. The project title was ‘The Library is Open’ and it became this kind of surreal archive, or library, full of quotes and gestures to other artists’ from different periods and places.
I guess I would not have created these works if it wasn’t for the circumstances we found ourselves in.
Sure. And specifically for your master project, can you tell a bit more?
The project is a continuation of elements that I was always drawn to. Often there are backstories and historical events involved, into which I intervene and comment on with my work. For this project, I responded to a peculiar historical event in the art market which occurred in September 1937, Berlin. It involved a forced-auction of an art collection, owned by a Jewish philanthropist and art collector from Hamburg. The collection was put up for forced-auction by the Nazi regime against the collector’s will, and until today many pieces are missing.
It started from a collaboration between the provenance researcher of this case and I, which allowed me to obtain many raw archival materials to work with. I sampled, manipulated and reconstructed archival materials (in the form of collages and 3d modelling), and integrated my original photography works.
Ah wow, so you went to Berlin or was it online?
The thing is that it was really made from my home… receiving the archival material, ordering online the original auction catalogue from a collector in Munich, zooming with the researcher, photographing in my environment, hanging tests in my living room…
The work starts from a story or a geographical location, but when I develop it I detach it from concrete locations, facts or timeline. The facts serve as a starting point which I tend to question and play with.
Yes, because you are playing with the document on document or art work on document?
Yes, also… What is the difference between a document and a photograph, when does the documentation become a work of art by itself, when does the art work leave its owner, does it have an owner at all… different questions about source, ownership and evolution.
Also a lot of research and trying to understand I can imagine.
Yes, there is historical research involve of course, but at the end of the day I hope for the viewer to just feel the works, to explore them without being bound to theory, research… I tend to give the option for informative text, but it’s not mandatory to know the background in order to “read” the works.
Interesting that you say this. Because I was just thinking that this is such an interesting story, that it might be a pity for the public if they do not always hear the back story.
This is why I like to have the text as an option. Most of the time outside of the space, or at the exit. So people can read it if they want, but it is really not mandatory.
Do you have any advice for someone who is coming to start at the Academy?
I think it is important to let go of how you think things are supposed to work. We have this kind of idea in our mind about what studying will look like, but it only starts to be authentic when we let go and listen to our environment and respond to it.
How do you see your work responding to the space of Hilde Cornelissen?
The meeting points with Hilde and her space are actually very interesting to me. She is a well-known interior architect, but I also see her as a curator of interior, of textile, light elements, sculptural objects. There are many design elements and aesthetic questions in my works that I believe will communicate well with her space. Her showroom does not offer the visuals of a store in my opinion… There’s almost a theatrical element there, of various furnished scenes. The artworks we will display will engage with objects and artifacts, and they are also a bit theatrical.
What’s also interesting is that the furniture she has is from all over, It is not specifically Belgian, French or American and you feel it there. It is a multicultural environment in a sense, which I think is healthy for exhibiting art.
And do you have an artist who inspired you?
Yes, there are many of them but one of my biggest inspirations is actually my late grandfather who was an engineer, but also a non-professional photographer. I grew up looking at his many albums which he systematically arranged all the time. Most of them had photographs from pre-war Germany and as a child they were almost like fantasy books to me. It did not look like the environment I knew. Black & white landscapes and portraits of anonymous people (to me). I worked with his undeveloped films for a project in the past, and will continue to do so in the future I believe.