FOTODOK’s talent program Lighthouse offers ten emerging photographers the opportunity to develop special ideas into a convincing project plan. All ten have a good portion of motivation and an affinity for socially urgent themes. For six months, they are supported in terms of content, practicality and entrepreneurship by a large group of experts from the field, the FOTODOK team and each other. We are currently in the middle of our fourth Lighthouse program, a good time to get to know the talents a little better. Intern Robin Schaap, a student at the Reinwardt Academie, focuses her research on the further development of FOTODOK’s talent programme. For her research she interviews all participants in this edition of Lighthouse. For the second interview we meet Joeri Boelhouwer, visual artist.
When and how did you discover that you loved photography?
As a teenager you could find me on the skating rink every day. One summer I got an injury, so skateboarding was temporarily off the track. I then decided to buy a camera and document the skaters. Photography gave me the chance to make something fun of the summer despite the injury.
Image: Self portrait Joeri Boelhouwer
What prompted you to study photography?
Shooting tricks grew into a broader interest in photography. After high school I had no clear plan. I just knew I wanted to take pictures. That’s how I ended up with studying photography at the HKU and I took the leap. In retrospect, it turned out to be a very good choice. The study gave me a good idea of what art is for me, and I ended up in a network of great people.
How do you like developing yourself in the field so far?
The graduation exhibition is now almost a year ago. I can say that I enjoy diving into the field independently. The creative engine is running and luckily I have the time to work out my ideas. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Compared to my time at art school, it is now less easy to discuss work and there is no one to tell you that something has to be finished at a certain time. It requires a lot of discipline and motivation to get back to work every day, often without financial reward. Fortunately, I participate in two exhibitions that will take place in the near future, so there are still hard deadlines to work towards.
How did you end up with the Lighthouse program and what were your reasons for signing up?
I joined the Lighthouse program because I already knew FOTODOK well and heard positive stories from HKU alumni. I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about the field and meet makers from other art academies. The Dutch academies are quite like islands, with little exchange. It also appealed to me that we close the program with a collective project. This is a great opportunity to reach people from inside and outside the art world.
Image: From Fitter, Happier, and More Productive.
What would you have liked to have learned during your training as a photographer that they didn’t teach you?
At the HKU we spent a lot of time defining our makership. In my opinion, that knowledge provides a really good foundation for the rest of your career. However, there could have been more lessons about entrepreneurship. The message that next to your art practice you only work part-time in a coffee shop, and that you can easily make it every month, is not complete enough in my opinion. There is no right or wrong, but I think that sometimes it was too easy to talk about what it is like to survive as a starting artist.
Have there been times for you when you wanted to quit? Can you describe such a moment and explain what ultimately prompted you to continue.
In fact, there have never been times when I wanted to stop. Of course there were moments of uncertainty about the future and whether this is something for me. I have always kept on going because there is no other time activity with which I would rather fill my weeks. I have the feeling that there is still a lot of beauty to be achieved, a feeling of hunger.
Beeld: uit de serie Fitter, Happier, and More Productive.
What project are you currently working on?
At the moment I am working on a video project. It’s called Digital Tomb. Digital Tomb is an immersive experience that takes the viewer on a surreal journey through a world that was once alive, but has now faded into oblivion. As we move through the different spaces, we are confronted with the remnants of a bygone era, when digital avatars and 3D objects were the norm. The corroded remains of these once-beautiful technologies remind us of the fleetingness of innovation and progress. Yet there is a sense of nostalgia that permeates the entire installation as we are transported to a time when the virtual world was new and exciting. Digital Tomb challenges our perception of reality and comments on the transience of innovation and progress.
In addition, I am preparing a group exhibition in Galerie Pouloeuff. From April 15 to June 11, Manon Jeuken, Teune Derks and I will exhibit there. Works from my graduation project Fitter, Happier, and More Productive and new work will be on display (and for sale) here.
How did you come up with this idea?
The idea for Digital Tomb only came up a few weeks ago. After making it intuitive, I started to reflect on the images and noticed that the visual language and depicted objects reminded me of the computer games I used to play. And that there were also images that refer more to the virtual worlds of today, such as the Metaverse version of the company Meta. I saw a kind of passage of time. That’s how I came up with the topic. Digital Tomb can be seen during the Licht/Dark exhibition in De Havenloods in Utrecht. Come and have a look from March 23 to March 26!
What is the biggest challenge in the project you are currently working on?
The biggest challenge is that I went from still images to animation for this project. I was already familiar with 3D software, but movement makes the creative process more complex. I have to make more choices and, for example, also think about which sounds are appropriate. But for me, the fun lies precisely in that challenge. I like nothing better than learning by making and making discoveries.
Image: Stills from Digital Tomb
How would you describe your technique and style?
As for my technique, I use different media. Photography, archive material, 3D renders created in the computer, and recently computer animation. The combination of these media results in a hyper-realistic image, in which I question the difference between real and fake.
What fascinates you in life? This can be anything and does not have to be related to your work as a photographer.
Artist Tyler, the Creator inspires me a lot. After finishing a project, he disappears for a few years, after which he returns with a new album and has completely reinvented his style. He creates, as it were, his own universe. A universe with its own sound, its own visual language, its own outfits and its own stage decoration. I find it fascinating to see that everything Tyler, the Creator does is thought out in detail and he isn’t afraid to take his time.
Who do you prefer to turn to for advice?
To my girlfriend, my family and my former studio companions.
Which photographer appeals to you?
Recently I bought a new book by photographer Bharat Sikka at Fw:Books. He took the photos together with his father and they worked very playfully. The result is an airy book with beautiful images and design that you can disappear into.
What is your ultimate dream? / What does your dream job look like?
My dream is to be able to work with bigger budgets later on. I think it would be great to work with people who have very specific knowledge, and to create special art installations together. In addition, I just hope to have fun with the people in the field for a long time and to continue to enjoy the making process.
What are your future goals?
My future goals are what I described in the previous question, to exhibit more, and I also hope to be able to make a beautiful book one day.
Complete the sentence, photography is……
play with the truth.