Investigating the self-portrait

I am a Dutch contemporary conceptual visual artist.

The phenomenon of the self-portrait in art history is central to my work. In the series of self-portraits I have made over the years, I have constantly sought new approaches to this phenomenon. In doing so I not only investigate the autonomous self-portrait from the perspective of its technical and physical obstacles, but also examine my own person from a historical, mental and social perspective.

CORDON SANITAIRE 2020

The installation Cordon Sanitaire consists of three custom made suitcases, a video projection and a surround sound image. In the black cases one can recognize a traditional arrangement used for a press conference, the video projection simultaneously shows 27 speeches held by the 27 presidents and prime ministers of the 27 European Union members. Each member chooses his/her own identity, putting the customs of their own country before the central role of the European Union. This work is part of the Universe project.

IN CASE

The In Case installation shows a disorienting scene of protective casings. Although the contents are secured by sturdy locks, the contours of these casings may suggest a very well known setting: the United States president’s Oval office. Combined with the video projection this installation invites the viewer to rethink structures of power. This work is part of the Universe project.

TORSO RM / SELF-PORTRAIT 6

Pinned and stretched over the body of the Torso Belvedere (viewed in art history circles as a universal symbol of sculptural art) sits a copy of – the sloughed skin – of Berger himself. Through this act, the ancient art work became Berger’s own self-portrait, and he made himself the master of the sculptural tradition. Acquired in 2016 by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Torso RM is part of the Skin works.

EGO VIVO / SELF-PORTRAIT 25

Holding one's own bones in his hands was one thing, building a monument to celebrate one’s life another. First erected in 2013 at Blickachsen 9, Frankfurt this monument was presented as part of the Skeleton project. Followed by presentations at Lowlands, 2015 and at present (temporary) in the gardens of Kasteel het Nijenhuis, museum de Fundatie, Zwolle.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

The fall of man, the departure from a comfortable life under strict rules in the Garden of Eden, can be seen as a conscious step by humanity to demand the capacity to judge between good and evil. Man thus underlines his own divinity. The self-aware human being, now a Creator, will now constantly have to consider his own actions. Will I step forward into the unknown or will I stand still? Will I go left or right, will I say yes or no, is this good or bad?
This work is part of the Universe project.

LET US MAKE MAN

These fitted cases lie casually arranged, like cases for musical instrument. With a reference to the iconic image in Michelangelo’s fresco, the viewer can recognize a well-known form: God’s touch bringing Adam to life. The case made to contain God with his outstretched hand is open. ‘Let us make man’ calls for a redefinition of the content (or the lack of it) and explores how old and new truths and values acquire new meaning. Not in a symbolic sense, but literally: man, as the creator of everything that is possible, is now about to create his own creator. This work is part of the Universe project.

NARCISSUS / SELF-PORTRAIT 15

The self-portrait is not a customary subject in sculpture, as it is in painting. Sculptors rarely portray themselves, though in more recent art history the phenomenon has established a place for itself. The self-portraits by early Italian painters were referred to as Ritratto allo specchio (portrait in the mirror). It is this term, with its many possible interpretations, that lies at the basis for the development of Narcissus / Self-portrait 15. This work is part of the Skin project.

SKIN AND BONE / SELF-PORTRAIT 24

Skin and Bone/Self-portrait 24 links the connection between the Skin works and the Skeleton project. The skin is what bears our unique identity when we are alive, but after death it irrevocably decays. From that point we can be identified only by the information held in our bones. Each bone, printed after my own bones, is encased in a tightly sewn sleeve. The sleeve is a direct imprint from my own skin. Thus, the symbol of eternity is enveloped in the contemporary.