Arnoud Holleman
Amsterdam, Monday November 23, 2020
Re-Magazine #12 (Hester)
Issue #12 was published in 2005 and is dedicated to Hester Schofield. Contrary to previous persons who were portrayed in Re-Magazine, Hester is not a fictitious character. She lives in London and as subject matter for the magazine she participated in a close examination of her struggle with depression.

Re- #12 was made in collaboration with Jop van Bennekom, Hester Schofield, David Mills, Julia van Mourik and others. Photography by Anuschka Blommers/Niels Schumm, Viviane Sassen, Andreas Larsson, Barbara Visser, Bart Julius Peters and others.

Some of the content of Re- #12 re-appears in Hester and Life is a Dream Come True



An eight hour long interview.

Hester lives in a modest two room flat in a rebuilt factory in Finsbury, London. Her voice over the intercom is quiet, almost inaudible. Her apartment is on the third floor of the old factory. Each door on the floor is mustard yellow and it is difficult to tell which one will lead into Hester’s apartment. After a few moments a door at the end of the corridor opens and Hester steps out. She’s wearing jeans and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and gives the impression that she hasn’t paid too much attention to her appearance.

Hello, I’m Hester.

Hi. Don’t you ever have problems finding your own front door?
No, but I did lock myself out on several occasions.

Hester lets me in and takes my coat. She looks different from the picture she sent us. Her eyes are tired. She offers me a cup of tea, but sticks to water and cigarettes herself. As we arrange ourselves on her rather uncomfortable fold-out couch, Hester tells me about how she and her sister locked themselves out of her apartment one day.

I just moved into this flat and my sister came up to collect some pieces of furniture. We had to move this huge filing cabinet to her car. The door slammed behind us and we got locked out. We decided to deal with that later and first take the furniture down to the car. So we got into the lift with the filing cabinet and then the lift stuck. There was hardly anyone in this building, I was maybe one of only five people that had moved in. We were stuck in the lift for three hours and every time we heard a noise we’d bang on the door. Eventually somebody came past and realised we were stuck and went to get help. When we got out of the lift we found out the car had been clamped while we’d been stuck, which meant a penalty of 120 pounds. And all the time my sister was like ‘These things always happen when I’m with you.’

Is she right?
I guess so. I often find myself in these sorts of situations. It was my boyfriend’s birthday two weeks ago and I bought him an Ipod, because his big love is music. But in order to buy him an Ipod, I also had to buy him the software to upgrade his computer. So I did all the research and I made sure it was the right software. I gave him the Ipod and he loved it. He was really happy. But yesterday we spent all day, from eight in the morning to eight in the evening, trying to get the Ipod to work. And it didn’t. We ended up having to take the Ipod and the computer to the computer shop. But they couldn’t fix it either. Now he’s left with a computer he can’t use and an Ipod he can’t use. He said, ‘Next time buy me a book.’ I was in tears all day long, wondering why things always go wrong even when I’ve taken all the precautions for them to go properly.

Did you come up with an answer?
No, not really. But I had been waiting for everything to go wrong. I felt I had been showing off by giving him this expensive present. It was as if I had pushed the boat out too far, and it was coming back and being thrown in my face.

How are you feeling right now?
I feel quite tired right now. Pretty exhausted. Quite vulnerable. If I‘d be feeling more on top, I wouldn’t have been crying all day yesterday. I know I have to go and do some exercise later to re-energize myself.

You recently sent us a letter. Can you tell me why?
I don’t know really. I want to be challenged. I guess... I think... I’m sort of ready to sort things out about my depression. I want to externalise it, to look at it from an outsider’s point of view.

How long have you been depressed?
There’s no fixed starting point, but a lot of it goes back to how I grew up. I must say I’m quite resistant to the idea of going back into your childhood and looking for reasons why you are the way you are now, but essentially I grew up in an environment where everything was made to seem awful and dreadful. My mum was ill and very depressed as well, so everything was a struggle and everything was difficult. She couldn’t cope with the outside world, she didn’t work and stayed indoors. She spent all her time laying on her bed and wouldn’t take responsibility for anything and wouldn’t take responsibility for herself. I think she was highly emotionally manipulative. She had these extraordinary conspiracy theories and blamed everyone around her for the way she was. And I think instead of blaming other people around me, I look for circumstances to blame my own failure. I mean, that’s just life anyway, isn’t it? Things don’t run smoothly. I’m always waiting for the next thing to go wrong.

What were you like as a child?
I was very ahead for my age, very intelligent, but not very well adapted, socially. I was basically a geek, a nerd, always into my books and my little science experiments. We lived in a very tiny village called Compton, near London, and didn’t really have any friends there. There were four to five children in my class who lived in our village, but nobody ever saw each other outside of school. At age eleven, we all got sent to secondary school, but my mum decided to send me to a school where none of the village children were going. So I went to a school where I didn’t fit in with anybody. I was just this odd ball child. I felt very lonely. Maybe I was too clever, but I wasn’t like the other clever children either. And since I knew nobody and nobody knew about me, I made up the story that I’d lived in Africa until I was ten. So when kids teased me about being strange, they’d put it down to the fact that I’d grown up abroad. And eventually this helped me make friends. The story was supported by the fact that my dad was living in Africa and I’d visit him maybe once or twice a year. So it wasn’t very difficult to live up to the story. And because my mother was depressed, I never brought friends home. No one ever saw my home life and no one ever had any reason to believe I was lying about Africa.

Your parents are divorced?
My parents split up when I was very young. I don’t know how ill my mum was at the time, but she certainly wasn’t very happy. I think they just fell out of love. My dad left a note on the table and left without taking anything with him.

How did you describe your imaginary life in Africa?
The stories would always be about my dad and I spending time together. They were mostly sunny and happy. He was quite adventurous and told me stories about his adventures, like how he’d climbed up some mountain or he sailed across lake Tanginiko. I retold these stories as though I had those adventures with him.

Can you tell me a story exactly like you would tell your classmates?
I’m not sure if I can. I’ll try. (Pauses) My father and stepmother were living in Nigeria during a military coup in the late seventies. A lot of white people in Lagos were expelled. My stepmother — so I’m not telling the story to convince you now — was a mixed race African, and basically she and my father had a lot of problems from Nigerians and were often harassed by the police. She became really upset one day because she came home and found her pet dog killed and nailed to the front door as a warning. My dad and stepmum had to leave that night. They travelled to Ghana and tried to find work there. So I would tell people this story, and say this is why I had to leave Africa and come back to England.

Did anyone ever discover that you were lying?
At age sixteen, all the children in the area went to the same six-form college, so I met up once again with the kids from Compton who’d been in my class in primary school. So now I had two sets of friends who knew two different pasts. So I had to confess.

Can you tell me a little more about your father?
After he left, he stayed in this crummy little bed-sit in the nearest town. When he came to see us, my mother didn’t allow him in the house or in the garden. My sister and I used to wait at the gate for him to pick us up and take us out on a day out. I have pretty vague memories about it really. I was three or four at the time. I remember him fixing a window, putting glass in a window, and having holes in his jumpers. He met my first stepmum when I was around seven. Her name was Trudy and she was really lovely to my sister and me — we got on really well. But then they decided to go to Africa. She was a weird woman, a real hedonist. She did drugs and drank a lot. In Africa, they lived an ex-pat life and she was the centre of their social world, having parties every nights and always surrounded by other men. My dad was always in the background, he was a quiet man. Trudy died of lung cancer when I was seventeen. Then my dad met this woman called Gigi. My dad had three wives after he left my mother. Gigi was Somali. They had a really peculiar relationship. She was only five years older that I was, and didn’t speak any English. Essentially, she worked as a prostitute in clubs in Mogadishu, which is where my father met her. He was quite infatuated with her, but she didn’t love him.He came back to England with her and announced that they were getting married the next week. My sister wanted nothing to do with her at all. I decided to make an effort, though, because my father was depressed after Trudy’s death.

Do you think he got married to forget Trudy?
Yes. There were only just eighteen months between Trudy and Gigi. It was all about survival, I guess, from both sides. Much later, when I went to visit them and met Gigi’s friends they were all doing the same thing. They were all very attractive, black women on the lookout for white men, like my father. Gigi and my dad were together for four or five years. My dad was an accountant and worked on aid projects for the World Bank or the IMF. He used to do contract-work, so he would move every couple of years. When my dad got transferred to Uganda, Gigi left him. We never knew exactly why. The next thing we heard, about six months later, was that he met a new woman in Uganda named Winnie. We’re not sure if he married her or not, or wether he divorced Gigi or not. And we couldn’t ask, because soon after he met Winnie, my dad died in a helicopter accident in Russia, where he was working for three months. Winnie had stayed behind in Uganda because, we found out later, she was pregnant with my half brother, Mesaki.

Do you know anything about Mesaki?
I’ve never met him. The whole story is very sad. She had the child, and since my father wasn’t around anymore, my sister and I started sending her some money. Over the next months, she began needing more and more money. The baby was ill and went to hospital and it cost, like, a thousand pounds. Then she asked us to give her three-thousand pounds for their house. Then we had to pay for Mesaki to go to a school. That cost more than the most expensive private school in this country, which seemed suspicious. So we rang up the school and they didn’t know about the child. We stopped sending money and lost contact. He must be eleven now. If he wants to he can get in touch with me. I send him a birthday card every year with my address on it, but I never get a reply.

How much of your depression was connected to the death of your father?
Quite a bit, obviously. It triggered a very dark period of my own life. I had a complex relation with my dad and I was very very hurt when he died. But the depression had manifested itself way before he died. When I was fourteen, I started reading Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. I didn’t understand even half of it really, but always found a place in those books that I recognised, a kind of oppression and darkness. I sort of fuelled my own depression by reading these kinds of books. And I naturally migrated towards people who had a similar sensibility. Everyone read a lot. Quite often we would sit around a campfire and read to each other. We were politicised, we dressed like little hippies, or punk hippies and started to drink, to smoke, and to take drugs. And meanwhile at home it was really tough and very difficult. My sister was having her own problems and my mother wasn’t functioning at all. So I would go home, and do all the washing, make supper for everyone, take the dogs out for a walk, and clean up the house. I was doing too much, cramming every single minute. If you fill up your day, like I did, you can stop thinking about how you feel. I was wrapped up in talking about books or art and not about what I felt inside. I was completely holding it back. I think the clearest sign of depression at that age was that I would take the dog out for a walk every night for an hour or two, and I would just walk around and cry.

What were you crying about?
Just stress. The situation at home never changed very much. Basically, for years and years, my mum used to lay on a sofa with a blanket over her face and never got up. My sister was very smart. When I was running around doing all this stuff, you know, calling the doctor and social workers, she would do absolutely nothing. Her reaction to the situation was to withdraw completely, she didn’t involve herself at all. It came to the point that when I told her that she had to cook dinner, she’d cook, but burn everything and just leave it on the stove. So I knew not to ask her again. She’d made her point.

So you were manipulated not only by your mother, but by your sister as well?
It wasn’t really manipulation, or I never looked at it that way. I didn’t understand my sister at all. But she didn’t, and still doesn’t understand me either. She thought I was stupid, running around and doing all the chores. I assumed they had to be done and I was the only one who was going to do them. And then my stepmum Trudy died. My grades had gone down a lot already, but when she died, I ended up failing my exams. I couldn’t focus and I lost all motivation.

Were you diagnosed as being depressed at this stage?
Not exactly. I went to the doctor because I was very thin, and he told me that I was worn out and needed to slow down, but still everything felt external. I didn’t recognise myself as being depressed because I thought I was grieving over Trudy. Now I can see that there’s a close association between the two and that my grief just compounded what I was feeling already. I felt incredibly old. I felt like I was worn out. I felt like I was forty instead of seventeen, and I didn’t see...Everyone tells you that when you’re that age they’re the best years of your life… And they weren’t… I remember going to university and just thinking... I was so scared... I really thought that it would get worse. And that’s what growing up is… That’s what growing up meant.

Do you want to take a break?
No, it’s fine... It’s just... I’m sorry... It’s weird... I had forgotten what it felt like. I suddenly felt like I did when I was that age and thought that I was at the beginning of a terrible life. I hadn’t thought about it for years really, feeling forty at age seventeen. I felt old before my time and I was just surrounded by lively energetic teenagers who were all hopeful and all kind of excited. I didn’t feel like a teenager. I wasn’t rebellious. I didn’t do bad things. I didn’t go out attention seeking. I wasn’t trendy and fashionable. I was a very good girl, quiet and fairly studious. I wasn’t that rebel teenager with teenager problems. I suppressed them.

How did you imagine your future?
Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a vet. I always studied sciences and enjoyed physics, but I needed to be a straight A student to get into a vet programme. So there was no chance, really. But I also had a really strong interest in art. Eventually, the art took over. Plus I had a lot of friends who were doing art, so it gave us something to bond over.

Do you feel that art college was a second choice?
No. I enjoyed it and I was good at it. Art boosted my self confidence and I deliberately applied to college in Newcastle because it was the furthest away from home. I left my past behind and I discovered that getting older was not necessarily worse. So that was quite a revelation. I was working very hard, which I didn’t recognise as a sign of depression. But I think the depression became apparent in the work I made. I deliberately cut objects so that they couldn’t express themselves or speak. And later on I got into performance art and I would do lots of pieces about being strangled and tied up. I did a performance hanging upside down for hours on end. I didn’t go as far as self-mutilation, but I was certainly very interested in that area and in terms of sexuality. Through art, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. I had a great time in college but at the same time I wasn’t very realistic about my own future. I had no clue what to do after my exams, but I didn’t care either. It was irrelevant. I wanted to leave space to explore and just see what would happen. Almost play it like a game. And what happened was that I ended up with no money and nowhere to live. I had to move back in with my mother which was really awful and really inappropriate. But I had nowhere else to go. And that lasted for about two months. It was a disaster. So, I moved in with my sister in London and I started doing temp work to get some money. And after a few weeks my sister said that I had to leave, she didn’t want me anymore. I went to stay with a friend who was in a really depressed state and I became miserable as well, being in London with no money and no idea what on earth to do with myself. It’s funny how quickly it all spiralled that year, because nine months before I had everything.

Where you aware than things were really on the decline?
I would just pretend that everything was all right. Every few weeks I was staying somewhere else, and if I didn’t have a proper place to stay, I’d stay up all night, walking the London bridges. Then this old boyfriend reappeared. He lived in a squat and I moved in there and started drinking a lot. I was quite grubby. My dad came over and found me in a horrible state. At the time he was living with Gigi and he decided I was going back to Somalia with him.

So you finally got to live out your childhood fantasy of being in Africa with your father.
I guess. I stayed there for eight months and it did lift the depression. My dad and Gigi took care of me. I worked at a refugee camp, which shook me up. It made me realize that I had everything and the people I worked with had nothing. So what the hell was I doing in Somalia? I just felt like this spoiled stupid brat, really. It was, like, a reality check. But at the same time I couldn’t decide what to do with myself. I was floating. And my dad was very sweet and supportive, but also quite non-directional.

Did you lose your ambition to become an artist?
I didn’t feel that I had anything to make work about. When I went to college, everyone assumed I would go on to do an MA in the arts, but I thought the work I was making was very insignificant.

What did you do when you finally returned to England?
I had done performance work with a company in Newcastle. So I hitched up there and stood on their doorstep until they gave me an office job. It was such a wrong decision, I was willing to do anything, even to work for free. Again and again I put myself in situations where I’m not thinking about my own wellbeing. Again I worked too hard to push whatever I was feeling out of the way. Again I didn’t recognise the symptoms of depression because I thought they were side effects of all the hard work. And because I was working very hard I was also partying very hard and having lots of casual sexual encounters. I shared a flat with a girlfriend and we used to keep a sex-log where we would document the sex we had. It was quite nasty, really. We’d set goals like, tonight we’re going pick up the fattest boy we can find or I’d have to sleep with whomever she picked out of the crowd. It was horrible and self-destructive and I’m quite ashamed of it, actually. I don’t even remember of how it came about. I know I was drinking a lot… And while that was going on, my dad died. That’s when I really crashed… That whole period is blurred… The chronology is missing… and there are many many blanks… Most of what a depression is like is beyond language… You’re disconnected from yourself and from the world… A simple thing like walking on the street can feel like a bombardment of noises and other people’s energy. This thick, soupy, cloggy air, this wall of energy was coming towards me, or through me, or against me... Like my mum, I would stay indoors and lay in bed with a blanket over my face. And worst of all, because I was aware that I was so oversensitive, it felt like I was making it up myself, and bring it upon myself. It was as if I was inventing my own depression.

We take a break in which Hester makes a small salad. Pictures on the fridge show Hester up in the mountains, Hester in a sailing boat, Hester at a party with mostly female friends. I look at Hester in her kitchen as she patiently cuts a tomato. It’s easy to imagine her being alone in her flat. Everything is designed to suit her and is not inviting to others. It’s not clear whether speaking openly about private matters exhausts her or not. She‘s out of reach when we’re not in interview mode. While we eat, we discuss mundane subjects: transport in London, how hard it is to get to know your neighbours, and the English weather. Twenty minutes later, Hester is ready to continue. She lights another cigarette.

Where were we?
I was saying how impossible it is for me to put words to the deepest lethargic feelings I had. Talking about depression is totally different than going through a depression, obviously.

Was there a specific moment when you decided to seek help?
It was decided for me. After the death of my father, once again I assumed it was grief that was causing my depressed moods. Friends of mine started to intervene and suggested that I’d been grieving too long, saying it had been three years since he died and I been really wallowing in it. I was being looked after by a friend of mine whose house I was staying in, and basically she told me she’d booked an appointment with a counsellor for me because I had to sort myself out.

What was your reaction?
I thought it was a joke. In fact I was quite offended that she’d arranged an appointment for me. But, on the other hand, although I was very cynical about it, I trusted her, so I thought I should go. I had no idea where I was stepping into. I remember talking to my sister who said, ‘For God’s sake don’t let them dive in your childhood.’

What kind of counselling was it?
It started out as grief counselling, which was basically about teaching you to recognise symptoms in an early stage and to understand that you are depressed. I had to figure out what was external and what was happening in my own mind and how these things made me feel emotionally. You have to learn to become aware of how your body responds to emotions and how it behaves chemically. That has an impact on the way you think and feel.

Is depression also genetic?
If you grow up with someone who’s depressed — when you’re surrounded by someone feeling depressed emotions and projecting them — you naturally tap in to depression at a very young age, so it becomes part of your emotional make-up. Especially if that person is your mother. You absorb depression into your own history. But it’s such a complex and almost arbitrary formula really.

Why is it arbitrary?
I prefer focusing on real facts or circumstances, for that is something you can really get your head around. Dealing with circumstances provides me with reason or logic for what I’m feeling. Whereas, unravelling everything else becomes very problematic. When someone dies, or you lose your job, or you lose your home, you have to be very practical about your emotional response. When you are simply depressed and you don’t have things like these to blame, then you can only blame yourself or your parents or the past. You can get into this vicious cycle and become very negative about yourself. I think a lot of the strategies I use involve not thinking too deeply about my past. If I start going down that path in everyday life, I just create such chaos in my head and become increasingly neurotic. I’m very emotional. I’m an oversensitive person. So in order to control my emotions, I have to rely on logical reason. It makes sense to put a cage around my emotions and create boundaries. The image of me laying on the sofa like my mum is very disturbing, and I’ve been there. I have a real fear of ending up like my mother. She lives in this kind of growing mess now. You can’t see the floor because there are piles of books and magazines and newspapers and junk. She collects junk which accumulates dust and smells terrible.

Let’s go back to your first experience with counselling.
My counsellor was a middle-aged, mumsy kind of woman. Basically, she had a fairly systematic method. In the first session she just asked what I wanted out of counselling, what I thought was wrong and then explained the process she used. She said there are several different stages of grief: denial, acceptance, refusal, and anger. And she asked me what stage I was in. It felt completely peculiar, like a formula. It was all very practical. A lot of it was about writing lists.

What was on these lists?
It started with ten things you enjoy most, and ten things you hate doing. Then I had to name things I could do to improve my life. And these lists were bound up with how I was feeling. How were they going to make feel better or cope better? How to move my life forward and not get stuck in the past or with the sensation of being completely overwhelmed by everything? How to improve my day? Get up. Same time every day. Plan something to do. Go and exercise. Eat properly. Little things like, if you walk somewhere, walk different routes and see different things and start stimulating your ability to be surprised. Don’t do things robotically. Look for things that give you pleasure and treat yourself. Instead of looking after everyone else and making sure they’re all right, go out and do something for yourself. Make sure you’re all right. Every week I had to go and do something new — walking in the park or getting a massage, which I had never dreamed of doing. At the time I was really tense and really tired, and I had no strength in my body. If I ran down the street, it would feel like a huge gargantuan effort, I was absolutely drained of all energy. So massage helped me to rebalance.

And so did therapy.
Initially. But after eight weeks my counsellor told me to go.

She just had an eight week program. But my friend, I found out later, was quite clever. She told this counsellor that I was depressed but would never agree to therapy for that. However, I would for grief counselling. So this would be the right procedure to get me on board. And it worked.

So you went to a new counsellor. A man or a woman?
A woman, I didn’t think I could cope with a man at the time. I had had really bad experiences with boyfriends, so I couldn’t trust men at all. When I got there the room was quite natural. There was a line of books behind her and a creamy pink carpet. Very feminine. We sat in armchairs at right angles like on a talk show. And initially I was quite enthusiastic about her. But after two or three months, I became very, very cynical about the whole thing.

I think a lot of people who get into counselling also get interested in the process of counselling and start reading about it, but I didn’t. To me it was something someone else had set up for me, which I carried through with. I was quite unthinking about it, really. I just turned up every week and, as long as I did what the counsellor said, I thought I would be okay. I think on some level it helped because it socialised me better. But the counselling didn’t address my huge overwhelming feelings. I went through the motions, making lots of lists, getting very practical, going out looking for jobs, but inside I felt more and more miserable. I presented myself to the world in a new way, but inside I remained as depressed as I was before. When no one was around, I was in tears all over again. All I was doing was shifting the depression. When you’re in a severe state of depression, lists don’t work. It’s a strategy that only works on a certain level. So, I got disillusioned with the counselling and I started hanging out with Jane, this friend of mine who was equally depressed and equally you know…having trouble coping. We formed our own little counselling gang. Both of us were very depressed. So, we ended up going to each other’s flat and being manically busy and ultimately doing nothing except getting drunk.

So that was the end of actual counselling?
At that point, yes. Of course my counsellor wanted me to stay longer. She said it was a long process. But I was too cynical. I thought she wanted me to stay because she wanted the money. Now I can see it was my depression that overtook, I don’t think I was in a position to judge what the point of the therapy was… It was a gut instinct to leave. I behaved like I was better, but I wasn’t. I remember crying continuously and my therapist handing me tissues. Poor woman. I would literally step over the doorstep and burst into tears for a whole hour.

So you didn’t talk?
A bit. In between my blubbering. And she would be very neutral… It’s starting to come back now…My life was so small and enclosed… I only met my flatmates and just prior to starting counselling, I had this really awful boyfriend and he caused all sorts of trouble. He stole money, had huge phone bills, and brought nasty friends over. We were three girls and a boy in the house and we all got very territorial. So, in a way, I kind of had to repair the relationship with the people in the house because they held me responsible for bringing in my boyfriend. So I talked about that a lot with my therapist. Why had the situation happened? Why had it escalated? Why was I attracted to this boyfriend in the first place?

And what was the answer?
I was sort of attached to the drama. His name was Tony and our relationship lasted for several years on and off. He was a musician, so he was travelling all over the country doing gigs and things. I guess I was living with an invented relationship instead of with the real one. I felt desperate and needy, and Tony was the only one giving me the attention I needed. It was bizarre. There was no commitment between us at all. We were constantly playing these stupid games with each other. He would call me up and say that he was in this or that hospital because he had diabetes. So I would race off to the hospital and find out he’d just checked himself in. I even sat in a doctor’s room and heard the doctor tell Tony that he didn’t seem to be diabetic, even though he’d insisted on staying in the hospital for two weeks. It was a complete lie. And I was also giving him a lot of money. I got him a car and I paid for him to go to college in America for a year with money that my dad left me. And then I found out he had a coke-habit and that he was living with this other woman in Birmingham as well, who was pregnant. All the money I was giving him was going straight to the other woman. It went on and on really.

How did it end?
He staged his own suicide. Tony knew I had to use the car one day and when I went to pick it up, there were empty pill bottles all over the car’s floor, like he’d taken an overdose. And then I got a phone call the next morning from a nurse saying Tony had overdosed. Eventually, I got a phone call from his brother in Jamaica who claimed that Tony had died and they were having a funeral in Jamaica.

Did you think Tony was really dead?

Did you check?
No, I just didn’t believe he commited suicide. I thought it was preposterous and ridiculous. And I was right. Maybe two or three years later I saw him in a bar… The strange thing with Tony was, when we finally broke up, there were so many things that shattered the delusion I had of our relationship, that it was almost like hit or reality. I didn’t grief for him and didn’t go through that broken heartedness thing. It was a complete cut-off.

How did you allow Tony to take advantage of you for so long?
Looking back it was all about a lack of self-awareness. You perceive yourself as grown up but you aren’t. I let others take over very easily. I wasn’t good in conflict situations at all. In those days if someone shouted at me I would burst into tears and become a quivering mess. In the counselling there was strong emphasis on being assertive. Making those lists was about determining whether you were assertive in a situation or not. Were you doing what you wanted or were you merely doing what everyone else around you wanted you to do? Which was okay, but I felt suspicious about this assertiveness as well. I don’t think people should exactly do what they feel or get what they want. You have to deal with other people too, don’t you? And in therapy we were focusing so minutely on things. We could talk for an hour about an open window and how I felt chilly and couldn’t tolerate the window being open. It was neurotic and that’s why the process exhausted me. I got too self-absorbed. The attention I got from my counsellor wasn’t working anymore.

There was another problem. These lists were all about what you want to do and I decided that I wanted to be a film director, which was okay amongst my friends, but imagine telling your counsellor. She was trying to get me realistic about my life and there I sat, crying all the time, saying I wanted to be a film director. I remember she asked me if I thought my expectations were unrealistic and if I thought I was talented enough. She didn’t have a clue how to handle such creative ambition. It’s not like going to the jobcentre and applying for a job at the postoffice. That frustrated me. Plus there’s a frustration in counselling that you know the person you’re talking to has knowledge that you don’t. You never know what she’s going to pull out of the bag next. So I left for various reasons, but mainly because I wasn’t getting any better.

What happened next?
I formed that little counselling gang with my friend Jane. There was a funny dynamic between the two of us. We were very needy together. I was aimless and I lacked confidence, but comforted myself with the fact that I was never as bad as Jane, because she was manic-depressive and I wasn’t. Jane was comforted by the fact that she was working and I wasn’t. It was a ridiculous cycle of self-support and self-satisfaction. And we drank a lot… This whole period lasted for over a year or so… And it got worse and worse… I’m not proud of it. I don’t want to be that person… It’s no fun going back there.

It got to the point where I just didn’t seem to know what to do with my life and my life didn’t seem that important anymore. I was living on my own, I tried to go to film school but didn’t get in. I thought if I got into film school, I would be all right, and I just didn’t know what to do when I failed. I isolated myself, didn’t see my friends. I wasn’t working and wasn’t motivated to do anything at all. And I just couldn’t see my way out of it, really. Suicide was on my mind for a long time, but I didn’t think I would do it for real. I thought more about what it would be like to be dead, as opposed to being alive. You know, would you still exist after death, and if yes, how? I hoped that there was somewhere else to go. And then I got into machinations of how to do it, the methodology of it… When it happened, I didn’t plan anything. I’ve heard of people really planning their suicide, almost ritualistically, but I didn’t. I had had a bath, and half a bottle of wine. I had dried myself off and went to make myself something to eat, and just thought, ‘Oh I could just slit my wrist.’ It was very much like, get into it and do it. I sharpened the knife because all I could think about was, if I slit my wrist the blade must be really sharp, otherwise I’ll hurt myself. It happened very quickly, I put the knife there and then I looked away. I couldn’t bear to see the knife go in my skin, so I looked away and did it… And I didn’t die, obviously. There wasn’t as much damage as I thought I had done, although there was a lot of blood. I didn’t hit the main vein, maybe because I had looked away.

What did you feel when you realised you hadn’t died?
Immediate regret. And rationalisation. The whole thing just seemed so pathetic and stupid. So I wrapped up the cut and dealt with it in a really practical way. I took myself to the hospital and told them what I had done. They looked at it and said, just told me to hold it tight. Although there was quite a lot of blood, the cut wasn’t so severe. They didn’t give me extra blood. I stayed there for a couple of hours, feeling week and in shock at what I’d done. I kept apologising and was embarrassed. Cause it was really embarrassing. It was excruciating. Unbearable. I thought, I have to change my life. This is ridiculous. I can’t keep going on like this. And ironically that made me stop in my tracks. It was a real turning point. They gave me a number of an organisation called This is your life. I had sessions there twice a week for six months, and took medication, but I hated that so much I stopped.

What medication were you prescribed?
I was prescribed Prozac, which didn't suit me at all. I was only getting about four hours sleep a night, so I was physically exhausted which made me more miserable. I had a dry mouth like I'd been smoking too much and I woke up feeling nauseous every morning. There was this cushioning sensation that made you feel as though you weren't really there or weren’t experiencing anything. After taking anti-inflammatories, I realised this sensation was similar to the drowsiness the packet warns you about when it says it’s unsafe to drive or operate machinery. And because other people around me weren’t experiencing the same thing I was, I felt like I was in a different world. I also completely lost interest in sex as well. Prozac did make me feel less depressed, but I thought I was experiencing false emotions, so I didn’t believe I was any happier. In fact, I might have been getting more depressed but the drug was hiding it. I can't remember specifically when I stopped taking Prozac, but it was a relief when I did. Then a friend suggested St. John’s Wort instead, which doesn't have the side effects. The idea of me being able to experiment and control the dose appealed to me. But I didn't stick with the St. John’s Wort for long either. In the end I just thought I needed to sort my life out and get to the root of the problem so that I wouldn’t get depressed in the first place.

What is the root of the problem?
I’d be rich if I knew the answer. One of the problems is you can never make depression go away completely. Things like boundaries and regulations were not part of my upbringing, so I’ve had to learn that I’m the kind of person that needs them. I need to set my own boundaries, which to this day is kind of how I control the depression. Boundaries give me the possibility to be free in my mind. If I don’t have them, I become inert. When I feel that I’m slipping into a depression again, I’ll try and tighten up and be stricter on myself.

How would you describe your inner state right now?
I think, not being in that severe state of depression anymore, I still have a kind of sadness inside, basically. And it’s quite deep inside and it’s there at the core. It’s always there and it’s always been there.

If you could take it out, what would it look like?
It just feels like an empty space. A hole. You know when somebody has died, and you grieve and you feel that kind of cavity inside you. It’s like that, but smaller.

How do you cope with it?
Physical sensations alleviate the sadness inside of me. Being in nature for example. When I’m up in the mountains or when I’m sailing I don’t recognise the sadness as being there. But that is always temporary and ephemeral.

Is there any relation between the fake suicide of Tony and your own attempt later on?
No, because I never believed he had committed suicide. If there’s any relation between the two it’s because I had isolated myself in so many ways because of him.

How did your mother and sister react to your suicide attempt?
I never told them.

So this is a coming out?

How did you hide the scar?
I’ve got very white skin and it really doesn’t show that much. Only if I get a tan does it show. My mum asked me about it and I said I cut myself by accident while making something... The thing is… I’ve learned a huge amount about what love means and what it doesn’t… Not just in relationships with boyfriends but with my family as well… My new boyfriend’s notion of love is completely new to me, you know... And that’s a good thing after a lifetime being fed with people saying they love you and not…and not showing it with their actions... And maybe me, myself, I’m not capable of showing it either... maybe… And not knowing what it is, or what other people expect…I don’t know... I think it’s about an empathy and kindness, without manipulation or wanting something from someone... One of the key things about my relationships with men is that my father told me that he loved me, but he simply wasn’t there, so I didn’t know what the words meant. And with my mother, it was similar. She always said that she loved me unconditionally, whatever I did, she would say, ‘I love you’, but her behaviour was... She was quite affectionate, she would hug me and kiss me, and things like that, but there was no action that proved that she loved me. It was all about kiss me, hug me. I need your love...

Do you blame your father for leaving you?
Now I have a different perspective on how he behaved than when I was younger.

Do you miss him?
Yes…I do miss him… I still feel really sad that he died before I grew up… It was unjust and unfair that he died at that moment. Out of the blue… He had been absent throughout my childhood, and we were finally beginning to develop a new relationship as adults. We became a lot closer. We got a lot more out of each other. And then he died… I was not mad at him… it felt deeply, deeply sad… We never had a chance, really.

Do you feel guilty about anything?
I don’t think I’ve done anything really awful. I feel guilty about my attitude towards my mother sometimes because I’m sort of unsympathetic. But with my mother there’s quite a strong parallel between our lives at the age when we suffered from depression, down to the same year and some of the circumstances. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt angry with my mother, but I was very angry with her in my twenties. She had more pressure on her and had a much harder time than I did. I fought my way against depression and out of it. I don’t know what’s going to happen in her future since she is still trapped in depression and doesn’t have the tools or the people around her that I have. Because she’s so isolated, her position is much worse than mine.

Do you feel like you’ve had to forgive your mother?
Yeah, but that happened quite a long time ago. Once there was an issue over — I know this sounds really childish — the fact that she would never give Christmas presents and often forget our birthdays. And yet if we forgot hers, she’d blackmail us and trap us with guilty phone conversations. And my sister Charlotte and I told her how hurtful this was and asked her to please remember our birthdays and give us presents, even if it was only a Mars bar or something. It’s the gesture. When your mum calls you two months after the fact and asks if your birthday is coming up, it’s actually quite chilling, someone who doesn’t know her child’s birthday. But there are some really good things about my mum as well. She does fantastic things, like she actually told me once that she was really, really sorry for everything… That was years ago. I think we’d had a spate of really bad arguments over several years and it came to a head. I told her that the only way I could communicate with her is if she didn’t mention the subjects that continually caused our arguments.

What were they?
What a bastard my father was. What bastards men are. And all these conspiracy theories about the government. Everything is wrapped up in my father. Actually, she hasn’t stopped talking about these things, but she’s aware of it and at least I can tell her that I really don’t want to hear it. I just didn’t want all of this be an issue any more because it was just exhausting. We had reached a breaking point where my mum told me that she’d be happy if she never saw me again and I felt likewise. And after that we basically monitored the time we spent together. We basically decided we were going to meet up for no more than three or four hours at a time and we were going to do something. We were going to an art gallery, the theatre, the cinema, or out for a meal with other people. We wouldn’t go for a walk where we’d get into a conversation. We still don’t spend more than a day together. But it’s grown from spending two or three hours together. It has really helped a lot, although the monitoring can seem quite artificial and lacks spontaneity. But the arrangement preserved the relationship and if that’s what it takes… I think it’s more empowering for her as well.

Do you often slip back into depression?
I was actually sinking back into that kind of feeling recently and I had to decide whether or not to go with it or fight it. And I did go out and do a hell of a lot of exercise that week really furiously, and I was really strict with my diet. Food has a huge impact on how I feel emotionally. When I feel down I know that vitamin B helps a lot. Marmite is a lifesaver. I just put my finger in the jar and take huge dollops of it. So somehow, not entirely consciously, I decided I wasn’t going back down that path. And looking back at it I realised the reason I felt that way was — and how could I forget —I was getting my period.

Now that you have organised your life, do you analyse the good moments as much as you analyse the bad ones?
With the depression there’s always an element where you can ask yourself if its an illusion, or manufactured. My big fear is that the good things in life are not real or delusion, even, because how much do you construct? As for love for someone else, I think there’s a point where you chose to fall in love. It’s not just an instinctive feeling. If we manufacture our emotions to this extent, we have the responsibility to keep on construting them in life. So, even when you don’t feel the feeling of love for someone for a certain period of time, you can construct it.

So are regulations and boundaries the solution for everything?
Yes. But I plan to fall out of my routine as well — skiing, sailing, or occasionally getting drunk. I look for adventures and plan activities and adrenaline rushes. Or I go shopping for food. I tend to buy what I call ‘my treat of the week’. I’ll buy one extravagant thing. I enjoy going to the organic market on Sundays. It’s a real pleasure to go there and spend all my money on a beautiful bit of bacon, or a nice cheese, or nice fresh vegetables. I’m stuck on vegetables, really. They look beautiful and taste delicious and it feels special to go the organic market instead of to the supermarket. I find pleasure in smaller things, whereas I get anxious about dealing with happiness on a larger scale.

Is that because you think you don’t deserve it?
I take pleasure in the little things, for those are more consistent and more containable. If you constantly keep reaching for the bigger things and then don’t achieve them, there’s this constant sense of disappointment.

Do you have dreams about the future?
I have certain fantasies about where I’d like to live. My perfect place to live would be nearby the sea with mountains nearby. And it’s a house that I would have designed. I’d live there with dogs...and children, perhaps. But let’s not get into that now.

Why not?
We’d have to talk all night.

Another Erased Drawing
Drawing / Tekening. Mei / May 2018. Potlood, pastelkrijt en gum / Pencil, soft pastel and eraser. 83 x 57 cm. Referenties / references: Willem de Kooning / Robert Rauschenberg. Gesigneerd / Signed op de achterkant / on the back.Te koop / For Sale. Prijs op aanvraag / Price on request.
Drawing / Tekening. April / April 2018. Potlood, pastelkrijt en gum / Pencil, soft pastel and eraser. Maat ong. / Size app. 83 x 57 cm. Gesigneerd / Signed op de achterkant / on the back.Te koop / For Sale. Prijs op aanvraag / Price on request.
From large-scale interventions to very simple gestures, Melanchotopia supports a range of artistic practices that go beyond the classical approach to displaying art in public space. Working with the existing dynamics of the city, Witte de With’s intention is to bring forward the diverse layers of daily life in Rotterdam, creating a rich framework for subjective encounters. It is an exhibition about the reality of Rotterdam.
Niet-weten als norm
Als Zijlstra praat, dan hoor je de positieve, neoliberale peptalk van Rutte, maar ook de anti-elitaire en antiglobalistische onderbuikpraat van Wilders. Het roer moet niet alleen om, maar de bestaande structuur moet – als doel op zich – schade worden toegebracht. Met andere woorden, schepping en destructie gaan hand in hand – en uit de mond van Zijlstra klinkt dat allemaal verbluffend unisono.
'De Sprookjes van A.E.J. 't Mannetje' van Arjan Ederveen, met tekeningen van Arnoud Holleman, werd in opdracht van Uitgeverij De Harmonie te Amsterdam gedrukt door Drukkerij Hooiberg te Epe. Het bindwerk werd verzorgd door boekbinderij EMBE te Meppel. Grafische vormgeving: Anne Lammers, Amsterdam. ISBN 9061695872. Eerste druk oktober 1999. De Sprookjes werden door de VPRO-tv uitgezonden in het seizoen 1998-1999.
Een voorspoedig 2133!
Wie zich verdiept in de geschiedenis van tijdcapsules vindt genoeg redenen om er geen te maken. De meesten verdwijnen, omdat ze vergaan of omdat ze worden vergeten. Toch zijn we bezig om er een in Rotterdam samen te stellen. Want ook al zijn we tegenwoordig geneigd om alleen met ironische distantie naar tijdcapsules te kijken, ze bieden nog steeds mogelijkheden. Niet zozeer voor onze nazaten, maar voor onszelf.
Provisional Space
ROMA Publications presents: Provisional Space - Nickel van Duijvenboden, Kees Goudzwaard, Arnoud Holleman, Rob Johannesma, Irene Kopelman, Jan Kempenaers, Mark Manders, Batia Suter, and Roger Willems. Curated by Mark Manders and Roger Willems. February 11 - April 7, 2012. Opening reception, Saturday, February 11th, from 6pm to 10pm, with a talk by Arnoud Holleman at 8pm. Castillo/Corrales, 80 rue Julien Lacroix, 75020 Paris.
In memoriam Krijn Giezen
De niche die hij voor zichzelf creëerde getuigt van een haat/liefde verhouding tot de kunst en dat zie je terug in het werk. Kunst geeft vrijheid, maar ze is ook overgecodeerd. Via een omweg sluit ze de geest evenzogoed weer op, in regels die even kafkaësk en beperkend kunnen zijn als de verregaande arboficatie van de firma Nederland, waar hij als landschapskunstenaar voortdurend mee te maken had.
De Burgers van Seoul
Een betere verbeelding van hoe kunst aan macht en geld gelieerd is – en gecorrumpeerd kan raken – heb ik niet eerder zo gezien. Met de glaswand die me van hen scheidt hebben de Burgers van Calais een nieuwe huid gekregen. Het heeft weinig meer te maken met de gevoelige expressie in de beeldtaal van Rodin, of met de innovatieve kracht waarmee hij de beeldhouwkunst in de moderniteit heeft binnengehaald.
Valéry Proust Museum
Curator Camiel van Winkel has taken German philosopher Th.W. Adorno's 1953 essay "Valéry Proust Museum" as the point of departure. The exhibition is not a regular group show, but an environment composed of selected works by a range of artists from different periods. Avoiding art historical and thematic selection criteria, the exhibition is based on the idea of the inevitable disappearance of the work of art in the empty spaces of the museum.
In Memory Of Things To Come
De geschiedenis van de Wilhelminasteen begint op 30 mei 1891 als de dan 10-jarige Koningin Wilhelmina en Koningin-moeder Emma een bezoek brengen aan Rotterdam. Om de gebeurtenis luister bij te zetten varen er honderden bootjes op de Maas en brengen 3000 schoolkinderen een aubade. De kersverse kleine Koningin zal haar naam verlenen aan de Wilhelminakade en de handeling die daarbij hoort is een steenlegging.
Arnaud, Arnout, Aernout, Arnold: people often misspell my name. No offense, so do I. Arnoud is for projects and research, Arnoudt for sales and visuals. At I sell mostly drawings, some photos and embroidery.
Herman Heijermans
I’ve always thought of photography as something very magical and it is my belief that this is based on a genuine experience: in my early childhood there must have been no sharp distinction between a real thing and its image. In the same way that kids see themselves as inseparable from their mother until the age of three, I thought that object and image were simply two different manifestations of the same energy.
Na de Onthulling
De (strijd tegen) onzichtbaarheid van buitenkunst. Een plaatsbepaling aan de hand van een aantal test cases. Hoe zorg je voor beelden in de (semi) openbare ruimte? En misschien nog belangrijker wie zorgt voor ze? Het zijn vragen zonder eenduidige antwoorden. Kunst in het publieke domein heeft een behoorlijk grote blinde vlek. Het lot van buitenbeelden is onzeker. Ze raken gedateerd, de omgeving verandert of de politieke context verandert.
Since 2008 there has been a lively dialogue in the museum between old masters and present-day artists. Arnoud Holleman (Haarlem, 1964) is taking this a step further. He made a film in the Schutterszaal in which �watching� is key. Frans Hals�s world-famous civic guard works and a selection of sculptures by Mari Andriessen, Han Wezelaar, Charlotte van Pallandt and others create the background for a cast of eighteen actors.
Radio Balzac
De Balzac van Auguste Rodin staat vanaf 1 februari in Het Oog in het van Abbemuseum, als special guest in een installatie van Arnoud Holleman. In deze tijdelijke opstelling draait het beeld langzaam rond. Bezoekers kunnen het beeld van alle kanten bekijken en de 19e eeuwse schrijver kijkt ondertussen rond, naar onze tijd. Via een online radiozender – Radio Balzac – worden meningen, discussies en andere inzichten over het beeld verzameld en uitgezonden.
& Auguste Judd & Pablo Bartana
"De parallel tussen relatief recente Nederlandse geschiedenis en de islam en de joodse cultuur intrigeert me�, zegt Holleman. �Het tweede gebod beschouw ik als bindmiddel tussen mij en de islam: als er ergens een common ground is, dan is het hier. Het Staphorst van de jaren vijftig is een soort black box: ergens in onze cultuur zit het besef dat we niet overal maar beeld moeten op- en aanplakken. Niet alles is in beeld te vatten."
Roosegaarde en Rodin
Zoon van de romantiek. Vader van het modernisme. Grootvader van het postmodernisme. Overgrootvader van de beeldvorming. De mythe van Rodin is er sterk genoeg voor. Hoe het Roosegaarde zal vergaan hangt na College Tour vooral van hemzelf af. Roosegaarde maakt zich in heleboel opzichten los van de kunst, maar aan een ding blijft hij vasthouden: een persoonsgebonden kunstenaarschap. Dat wringt.
Wat weten we nu waar we in 2013 nog geen weet van hadden? In 2014 werd de MH17 uit de lucht geschoten ... werd Rotterdam Centraal Station heropend. In 2015 werd het klimaatakkoord in Parijs ondertekend ... kwam de grote vluchtelingenstroom op gang ... dachten we dat Hillary de eerste vrouwelijke president zou worden. In 2016 stierf David Bowie ... kwam Trump aan de macht. In 2017 werd Feyenoord kampioen! ... ging #MeToo viral.
The Trouble With Value
What practices bring us closer to understanding the potential of art to represent different notions of value in the contemporary? How can we counter the certain apathy of the contemporary to engage with positions that resist this mood and present us with challenging perspectives on value? The project attempts to locate artistic and institutional practices that offer viewpoints beyond the strategy of blending-in and conforming to the rules.
Monsieur Holleman is certainly not Andy Warhol
Beeldconsumptie. Beeldproductie. Beelddistributie. In de afgelopen decennia zijn deze drie steeds meer met elkaar verweven geraakt. Overtreedt de hergebruikende kunstenaar de wet? Want wie is de eigenaar van beelden? De film Museum, te zien in het Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem, biedt inzicht. Tekst en beeld Arnoud Holleman, Groene Amsterdammer 25 februari 2015 - verschenen in nr. 9
Het genie werkt - nog steeds
Musee Rodin heeft haar gespletenheid tegenwoordig goed in de hand. Iedereen die er werkt is in zekere zin nog steeds in dienst van Rodin, maar er is ook voortschrijdend inzicht, gebaseerd op wat je 'museale introspectie' kunt noemen. Bij de recente, grondige herinrichting van het museum is genialiteit als oude valkuil zo veel mogelijk vermeden. In plaats daarvan wordt werkelijkheidsbesef betracht, vanuit het besef dat elk eigen gelijk slechts tijdelijk is, in afwachting van (weer) een nieuwe Rodin.
Rendez Vous met Frans Hals
Ter ere van de opening van het vernieuwde Frans Hals Museum staat in de locaties Hof en Hal de ontmoeting tussen originele en fictieve schilderijen van Frans Hals en interpretaties van kunstkenners en kunstenaars centraal. Door de hele tentoonstelling weerklinkt een koor van verschillende stemmen: schilders en fotografen, conservatoren en kunsthistorici reageren op eigenzinnige en subjectieve manieren op de schilderijen van de Haarlemse virtuoos.
De Gids
In elk kunstenaarschap wemelt het van de gemeenplaatsen. Repeterende anekdotes, topoi, die iedere kunstenaarsbiografie hetzelfde skelet geven: hij of zij, altijd alleen; echt talent ontrekt zich aan scholing; duizenden geroepen, slechts een handvol uitverkoren. Veel of weinig talent, allemaal stellen zij hun leven in dienst van iets dat het leven wil ontstijgen. Kunst gaat voor kroost, reikt voorbij de dood.
Polaroid photo of the former Polaroid factory in Enschede. I photographed the logo in 2001 as research for 'Wij', an exhibition at Kunstvereniging Diepenheim investigating the cultural identity of the Twente region. The factory closed in 2008 and the text sign has been removed in 2009. Polaroid is an edition of 20, still for sale on
Vastgelegd test 2
.... My father of 94 has been behind the camera throughout his life, in the desperate attempt of keeping the loss and pain of the Holocaust at a distance. I have always been on the other side, in front of his lens – and soon I will inherit his vast archive of 50.000 photos and many hours of 8mm film reels. How to own this heavy legacy?....
Gezeten voor een grijs decor uit de jaren zeventig interviewt hij een gast 'van een ondernemingsraad' over vergadertafels, toont hij 'bewegende beelden' en leidt hij quizzen zonder vragen. Af en toe gaat hij even naar de buitenreportage waarin weduwe en reporter Tekla Zwart hem onveranderd niets te melden heeft. Zijn vrouw, Joke Evegau-Treffers, presenteert het kookgedeelte van het programma.
Plinth drawings
Aaron Betsky omschreef Queer Space als: “datgene dat bepaalde aspecten van de materiële wereld waarin we allemaal leven toe-eigent, ze samenstelt tot een onwerkelijke of kunstmatige ruimte, en deze tegenconstructie gebruikt om de vrije ruimte van een climax te creëren, dat zich in de materiële wereld verspreidt.”
Site update
In Dutch, you can write my name in first and third person singular: Arnoud en Arnoudt They both have separate websites. This website originates from 2006, when I was still in exhibition mode. Over the years my practice has changed, resulting in highly irregular output. Recently Maurits has updated everything, vooral aan de achterkant. For shop & more visual stuff, visit my other website
Temporary Stedelijk 2
The Stedelijk Museum proudly announces the gift of 63 artworks from Dutch collector Maurice van Valen. Beginning May 10, 2011, a selection of works will be presented at the Stedelijk Museum during Temporary Stedelijk 2, as part of the ground floor installation. The Van Valen gift is notable for how it complements and builds upon the representation of several artists in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum.
Passie en Ruimte
Geer was in deze klimaatverandering een ideale docent om je tegen af te zetten. Hij was onverzettelijk, op het romantische af. Kwam het lokaal binnen, ging staan als de Balzac van Rodin en poneerde dan iets waarvan vooral de stelligheid me bijbleef. Zijn stijlopvattingen werden niet de mijne, maar het was glashelder waar hij voor stond. Ik studeerde af. Geer bleef als klassiek docent verbonden aan de KABK-nieuwe stijl.
For the last couple of years in a row, artists had been invited who felt at home in a big show environment. This had thrown up a number of lively and playful installations, but this year the budding tradition was in jeopardy: for a variety of reasons there was next to no money for art projects. The only kitty in the budget that might be called upon had been set aside for the printing of the half a million paper napkins that were to be used during the festival.
Broken Thinker
De Denker van Auguste Rodin is een iconisch misverstand. Sinds het ontstaan in 1881 wordt er een beroep gedaan op het denkvermogen van het beeld, terwijl het slechts de pose van het denken uitdrukt. Welbeschouwd is de Denker een lege vorm waar iedereen op mag projecteren. Dat heeft geleid tot een waaier van idee�n - en clich�s - over de mens die nadenkt over zijn bestaan. Samenwerking met Gert Jan Kocken.
Me and Jan Hoving
Inventarisnummer BK53086 - BK53115. Serie van 30 potloodtekeningen. Begin 1 juni 1976, einde 30 juni 1976. Kunstenaar: Jan Hoving. Titel: Zonder titel. Beschrijving: Vierkant met potloodarcering, met begin- en eindtijdnotering. Materiaal: potlood, papier. Hoogte: 54,8. Breedte: 54,8. Staat: redelijk. Organisatie: Instituut Collectie Nederland. Rubriek: Beeldende kunst. Dit werk wordt afgestoten door Instituut Collectie Nederland.
8th Gwangju Biennale
As an artist and writer, Arnoud Holleman’s extraordinarily diverse output is connected by a strong thematic concern with the life and significance of images. Often this concern is manifested through acts of appropriation that transform an image’s meaning through a shift in context, or a removal of contextual elements. This concern with the lives of images has also led him to create works that explore the historical prohibitions on image making.
Rodin research
From 2005 onwards, I have been focusing on Rodin as a research topic. The main question that I ask myself is in what way Rodin consciously helped shaping the mythical proportions of his own artistic persona. By studying his life and works and by studying the timeframe of the second half of the nineteenth century – in which his work came to existence – I seek to create a context of paralel references as a source of inspiration for nowadays artistic practice.
What happens is that the grit under your feet mixes with the noise in your head. And in the monotony of the constant succession of footsteps, residual thoughts escape like intestinal slugs. Initially this is unpleasant. The physical exertion is a booster, the cadence of your breathing and your footsteps become the haunted baseline under the story of your life, as you recount it to yourself at that moment.
Media Suicide
De 38-jarige Karst T. uit Huissen reed even voor het middaguur in op toeschouwers in een bewuste actie de koninklijke familie te raken. De man raakte zelf ernstig gewond en verkeerde gisteravond in levensgevaar. De man ontweek op de Jachtlaan in Apeldoorn twee afzettingen en reed met zijn zwarte Suzuki Swift in op de menigte. De koninklijke familie zag vanaf een paar meter afstand hoe de man tegen monument De Naald botste.
Questioning History
In visual art and photography there has been growing interest in history over the past few years - and in reflection on the past in particular. This interest relates to historiography, the oral tradition, historical consciousness and collective memory. Visual artists who address these themes find themselves in a highly relevant social context. The exhibition encompasses a diversity of work by 19 distinguished artists.
Staring at the picture of the garden on the postcard I catch a glimpse of my mother in a version of her life that she never lived, one in which Nico had gotten in touch, after that evening out. Perhaps now she’d have a different surname and be sitting by a different fire drinking wine with a different child. In a moment that feels like an oedipal short circuit, I experience something impossible: that I never existed.
Immovably Centred
Everything just chucked away. Subsidy handed back. A total failure. Fine. Well done. I’d like to know when you’re not going to be a failure. If you’re not. And whether I’m going to witness it in this lifetime. So vain. So weak. So lacking in backbone. I have to keep the whole show on the road while you just sit upstairs crying at your desk, your tears staining what you’re only going to scrunch up again any second and toss into the corner. On that laptop of yours.
Aaltje Kraak
In de Marslaan stond een rijtje van vijf jaren zestig-huizen te wachten op de sloop. De bouwnorm was in het centrum tot vierhoog verhoogd dus op die plek voldeden ze niet meer. De grote ramen, die de huizen ooit tot moderne doorzonwoningen hadden gemaakt waren nu dichtgetimmerd. Op het blanke hout van het underlayment stond over de volle lengte van het huizenblok met spuitbus geschreven: Weg met die zooi!
The Return of Religion and Other Myths
The Return of Religion and Other Myths is a large-scale multifaceted project, consisting of the exhibition The Art of Iconoclasm, a discourse program taking place in early 2009 titled On Post-Secularism, and the publication of a BAK Critical Reader on the subject in 2009. The project explores the popular assumption of the return of religion to the public sphere, contemporary politics, and the media in the West as a constitutive "myth."
On ne touche pas
One image is not the same as the other and there are also images that know their place: images that not only form a world in themselves but also refer to a more complex reality beyond themselves. And this is what I would like to focus on in this lecture, with the help of my film Museum, dating from 1998. For me, reflection on earlier works is not meant to dwell in the past. It is meant to stimulate preciseness and to develop internal coherence.
More of the same
Photo column in Amsterdam Weekly, focusing on similarities in the city environment. Based on the '700 centenboek' from 1975, in which Jos Houweling photographed objects throughout the city of Amsterdam in the same manner. The photo column appeared biweekly and was combined with the work of Hans Eijkelboom, whose series focus on similar human behavior or similar dress codes.
Over de filosofie van de verdunning
Als aanzet tot de verwezenlijking van hun ideaal ontmantelde Muller de hiërarchie in de verpleging. In deze anti-autoritaire omgeving stond voorop dat zwakzinnigen en begeleiders elkaar hielpen om ‘zichzelf’ te zijn. Met zijn oprechte, onaangepaste gedrag kon de zwakzinnige zelfs als positief voorbeeld dienen voor de ‘zelfactualisering’ waar ieder mens naar diende te streven.
For months after I first stood on that little bridge, I continued to circle around the windmills. Not only with my camera, but also with a microphone. When you look closer, the polder turns out to be an arena of conflicting interests. The cluttering of the landscape stands in opposition to climatological necessity; economic and ecological interests are locking horns for dominance; innovation oriented towards the future has to compete with the appreciation for history.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking, earth has disappeared. As we will not be able to crash, we will continue flying until we run out of fuel. Well so do something about it you’ve been wining about it for years. Well. Halfway. Everything’s fine. Stay calm. Come on guys what’s the big idea? You know, these days when somebody on the street says ‘sorry’ it’s a junky. You see you don’t get it. You’re just a character in someone elses plot.
Call me
It’s either filthy thoughts or intellectual blah-blah, and nothing in between. Look closer. More closer. Look at me! You hear me?! If there’s any reason for me to be ashamed, it’s you. The only reason I’m standing in front of the town hall is because I happened to have been ‘created’ by a world-famous sculptor: Rodin, the genius of deep emotions and existential gestures. Yeah right. The way I’m standing here, Rodin is the only person who’s never once laid a finger on me.
Just in Time!
Guest curator Kopsa asked the artists who submitted proposals for ‘Just in Time’ to define what they regarded as ‘necessary’. Just in Time (JIT) is the name of an economic principle, based on producing the right component at the right place at the right moment, in order to prevent waste. Artists manage their time in the opposite manner. They deliberately choose indirection, and are open to mistakes and unexpected tangents.
The Second Commandment
The best way to make the difference between meaning and madness is by saying the things you have to say as precisely as possible, with every means available to you. In that respect, the recontextualisation of older work is one of the strategies that could be investigated in more depth. Sometimes it makes more sense to ‘re-present’ old work than to simply produce for production’s sake and prematurely declare the old as passé.
In the drawing, she has her head down because she was reading. She’s spent most of her life reading, its her way out of her depression. I remember being quite conscious of drawing her double chin, since she hates it. My mother hates the fact that she’s losing her jawbone. I thought, ‘No, I’ve got to scrub it out.’ So I drew a shadow there. But these dark areas, the chin and the bags, emphasize her depression more than they show her reading a book.
Re-Magazine's great virtue is its willingness to expose sentiments that seldom find public expression, most often relating to the apparently trivial experiences and memories that make up the larger part of existence. Alongside this editorial idiosyncrasy, it is beautifully designed and photographed, each issue adopting a form to suit its subject - Emily King, Frieze, October 2003.
Food Coma
De inhoud van FOOD COMA wordt twee keer opgediend: een keer als theater, de tweede keer als tijdschrift. Centraal in voorstelling en tijdschrift staat Marcel, een 44-jarige computerdeskundige uit Wavrin, een klein dorpje onder de rook van Lille. Marcel wil en kan het maar over één ding hebben: voedsel. In FOOD COMA heeft Marcel een "monologue intérieur", een manische opeenstapeling van feiten over voedsel die begint waar dieetgoeroe's, chefkoks, boulimie-patiënten, slowfoodactivisten, fruitariërs en andere lekkerbekken ophouden.
Re-Magazine #11 (Marcel)
I forced myself not to spit, but to swallow. The undissolved salt got stuck to the back of my throat and oesophagus. I ended up nearly choking. It was as if I had eaten a mouthful of sand. I then began to drink one glass of water after another, but the salty taste persisted. It was terrible and wonderful at the same time, and in some strange way physically exhausting. I had eaten about 30 grams of salt, only five times the recommended daily allowance. Committing suicide can be very easy: one kilo of salt is all it takes.
Re-Magazine #10 (Claudia)
At times, her intelligence left me speechless and her beauty left me breathless. Her overwhelming height of 1m98 and dazzling charisma makes Claudia a woman who is almost too big for this world. This is a story about Claudia's monumental size, breathtaking beauty, staggering intelligence, mind-blowing success and pure happiness. Claudia has it all and she’s ready to share it with you.
I am flying
Event. Airplane with banner, 2003
Captured on 16 mm film, duration 32 seconds.
Camera: Sander Snoep
Ken Park
Willem de Rooij in Frieze magazine: Holleman looped the legendary shot of one the protagonists relieving himself after a night of steady drinking, emptying a last can of beer while doing so. After a while the calm splashing becomes reminiscent of a Zen fountain rather than a toilet, forming the audio backdrop to the show. Holleman filmed this fragment with a video camera in a cinema, in an exploration of appropriation, as well as of the status of the original images.
Solipsistic Skies
He ejaculated on the paper, outlining the blobs with watercolour crayon. Once it had all dried, he made everything around these constellations black with pencil. The drawing then became a window looking out towards a cosmos-like world, full of nothingness. This blackening process was a monotonous task, which allowed him to withdraw happily into the right side of the brain, where timelessness rules.
My Dad Playing Piano
The closet in his study kept the usual mix of essential and trivial: drawings from high school, student paraphernalia and tons of paper work from his job as a teacher. In an old shoebox we found a microphone and some old music cassettes. When he had retired, eight years before his death, he had picked up playing the piano again. He had taken lessons again and had studied every day. Sometimes he would make a recording of the pieces that he played, as a reality check.
Re- Magazine #9 (John)
I still remember the moment perfectly, it was summer and I thought, I’ll disappear in the autumn. And that’s what I did. I hatched my plan in secret. What surprised me was that my decision didn’t calm me down. I heard people who commit suicide live in great harmony with themselves and their surroundings during the period between deciding and carrying it out. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt hustled, and that feeling only grew worse after my decision.
Family and friends
Seven drawings of penises in various forms and sizes. Black pencil on 9" x 11" sheets of paper. First published in Butt magazine # 4, summer 2002 and later in Butt book - adventures in 21st century gay subculture, 2006. Based on dating site profile pics, named 'Dieter', 'Bram', 'Henk', 'Andrew', 'Harry', 'Erik', 'Martin' and 'Edward'. The drawings are framed in individual frames and for sale as a group. Price on request.
Driving Miss Palmen
I understand why you want to be a writer. It’s better to be mediocre and famous than just being mediocre. But the difference between you and me is that I’m able to create a character of myself in a story I choose to live in. And you, I’m sorry to say, are not. That makes me a writer and you just a character in someone elses plot. And as for my work: The big misunderstanding about my work is that critics keep comparing the fictious Connie Palmen with the real Connie Palmen, instead of comparing her to other great characters in litterature, like Madame Bovary, or Lolita...
Exhibition pictures
Selection of installation photo's
Untitled (Staphorst)
In this mediation between being and non-being we can do nothing else than continually behave as camera-genic as possible. See and be seen via the image has become a cultural and existential duty. This primacy of image and visibility however is no universal, natural condition: Islam’s interdict on images originally, according to the second commandment, also applied to Christendom.
Me and Madonna
When she comes past I click away hysterically. Not even with the intention of getting her picture but more because I’m in the press enclosure and have to prove that I’m a photographer or so. I’m so busy with the camera and she goes by so fast that I hardly catch a glimpse of her. The print I have made is blurred. Also that night was the first time she showed up with a black hairdo instead of her usual blonde, so nobody recognized her on the photo.
Me and Paolo
Masked newspaper spread. Photo shows Italian soccer player Paolo de Canio, saluting his fans in nazi-style while celebrating the victory for SS Lazio over AS Roma in january 2005. Text at bottom centre: I just wanted to celebrate with my fans. A photographer using a camera that takes 500 frames a minute just caught this moment in the celebration and made it look as if I held my right hand in that position.
I = for Impasse (Re- #4)
I meet a lot of people, both friends and strangers, who are in the middle of their personal acts of expression, but when I hear them talking, and compare their intentions to the final result, I very often think that the process of making is better than the expression of the product itself. I wish I could blame this on their lack of talent, but when I look at the results of my own acts of expression, I get the same feeling that a documentary about the making of that particular act of expression would have been much more interesting.
Dus toen kreeg ik heel erg de wens, als mens maar ook als kunstenaar, om me te bevrijden van al die dingen... om werkelijk iets nieuws in te slaan. Maar dat gaat niet, want je kan het nieuwe niet bedenken op basis van al die ouwe zooi. Dus ik dacht, ik wil daar van af... en toen bleek dat soap ... bleek een deur te zijn naar... zeg maar dat je die ruimte in je hoofd weer werkelijk leeg zou kunnen maken en als een soort potentie zou kunnen gaan vullen... zelf.
Me and Bert
That summer I was into the differences and parallels between drawing and photography. I saw myself as a human camera and tried to copy photos as precisely as possible. I was intrigued by the fact that I had to work for hours or days or weeks on end and would still fail to come anywhere close to what the camera had seen in a split second. One night, after a long day of working with minute precision and concentration, I went out to a bar and ran into Bert.
Inner Child
Ik kan tekenen door te beginnen. Al tekenend vond Clanice een waarheid waarin ze veilig was voor haar stiefvader en halfbroers. Ik besta. Clanice weet zich zoo te draaien dat zij zich het eerste laat naaien. Vrijwel meteen werd Clanice teruggeworpen in haar moeders schoot die het geschop in haar buik opvatte als boodschappen van een jongetje. We gaan naar Zandvoort. Clanice en haar zorgzame moeder maken gewoon lekker rustig een korte wandeling naar de kalme zee.
From the Corner of the Eye
For many artists, sexual orientation is just one of the many significant aspects in their work, but is an aspect which is often ignored in exhibitions and art criticism. From the Corner of the Eye offers an image of contemporary visual arts, seen from a "queer" perspective. In this exhibition, it is hoped that the homosexual gaze will sometimes be emphatically present and at other times will disappear into the background.
Museum (1998) is a re-mastered, projected version of a 1980s video by French gay porn director J. P. Cadinot. After Holleman cut out all the sex scenes, all that is left are young boys in hot pants and uniforms wandering aimlessly through a cheap film set of rooms in a nondescript museum. The eclectic art collection functions merely as a prop, but since there is no apparent action either, it’s not clear what the props are for.
Recto / Verso
Interview covergirl Lauren Hutton was photographed by Francesco Scavullo in 1973. She's wearing Galanos - from his exciting fall 1973 collection. Accessorized by Galanos, makeup by Way Bandy, hair by Rick Gilette. The photo was re-photographed by Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm in 2003, with model Uta Eichhorn posing as Re-Magazine covergirl Claudia. She's wearing a black dress by Hermès. Styling by Katja Rahlwes, makeup by Renata Mandic.
Wij / We
The definition of the word definition is: �the description of the essence of something in one or two highly precise and succinctly formulated sentences.� That is by no means easy, and we certainly don�t pretend to be able to do so. Nevertheless, there are a lot of characteristics that we find interesting and that we come up against in wondering about what might be typical of the region known as Twente. But those things aren�t so much absolute as they are relative.
Life is a Dream Come True
In most of my dreams there are no images or storylines to assign to their nightmarish feeling. They are more about certain dynamics, of shrinking and growing, for example, or being crushed. My body caving in on itself. As a depressed person I live inside my head and there’s always a sense that my body is deteriorating and weak. So feelings of weakness and lightheadedness come to me naturally. There’s a vacancy in me that is connected to my dreams.
Zoals een ander naar de slijter loopt om zich te bezatten, zo loop ik wel naar het venduehuis of de veiling of naar de antiquair om me visueel te bezatten. Zo zou je het eigenlijk best kunnen noemen ja. Je bezat je d'r an. Het heeft daarbij nog het voordeel dat dat bezatten langer duren kan dan die slok die je naar binnen werkt. Maar wat het verwerven van die dagelijks weerkerende pret betreft kan me dat dan wel eens zo ontzettend bezig houden dat ik er helemaal high van word.
Time Warp
A cinematic report on the processes of growth and change taking place on W.G. Witteveenplein in Rotterdam. Each film begins with the construction of the park in early 2003 and shows the various changes that have taken place so far. The films are supplemented four times a year with new material. This will result in five twelve-minute films in 2023. Collaborative project with Erwins Driessens & Maria Verstappen.
Verzameling Verzamelingen
De burgemeester had met de mooie stukken uit de collectie van de Van Sytzamastichting zijn kamer ingericht, maar de rest van het cultuurgoed voerde een verloren strijd tegen het dagelijks leven. Stenen beelden stonden zonder sokkel op de gang en werden gebruikt om de deuren open te houden. 18e-eeuwse miniatuurtjes hingen op een paar verloren spijkers naast een groepsfoto van de brandweer.
Serie van zes tekeningen, uit 1996, gebaseerd op QLB-meditaties die we (semi-serieus) deden bij theatergroep Mugmetdegoudentand. Met hulp van een pendel stel je vragen aan je inner child om een situatie in het heden beter te kunnen begrijpen. In een van de meditaties kwam ik in een vorig leven terecht waar ik als meisje Clanice heette. Nog te koop, stuur e-mail naar
Tekeningen 1995 - 1997
Met een zweepje onder z'n oksels geklemd 'berijdt' een naakte man een op z'n kop staand paard. Terwijl hij met z'n anus over de paardenlul glijdt, perst een eveneens naakte vrouw zich met moeite in het poepgat van het rijdier. Om haar daad kracht bij te zetten, duwt ze met haar hand tegen een denkbeeldige muur - een muur die tevens de kadrering vormt van het op papier getekende seksspelletje. (Nathalie Faber - Het Parool 3-2-1998)
Me and Susan
I’ve always thought of photography as something very magical and it is my belief that this is based on a genuine experience: in my early childhood there must have been no sharp distinction between a real thing and its image. In the same way that kids see themselves as inseparable from their mother until the age of three, I thought that object and image were simply two different manifestations of the same energy.
Auntie Truus and Auntie Mok
With utmost concentration I tried to capture the atmosphere in the photos as closely as possible, but again and again I would screw up somewhere halfway. Either the balance in shading wasn’t right, or I couldn’t get the expressions right on their faces. When I finally managed to give Auntie Truus the right expression, I reached the point where I had a physical sensation of being on that lawn on Texel again on that day in 1969, asking Auntie Truus and Auntie Mok to pose for me. At that very moment, reality as such was redefined as an object for exhibition.
Unframed drawing
In later years, after being trained as a visual artist, I got interested in the differences and parallels between drawing and photography. When I redrew a photograph of a young boy looking at a horizontal piece of paper, I re-experienced something of that primitive power of the image: the boy and I coincided and somewhere inbetween, reality as such was redefined as an object for exhibition. Photos from installation at Stedelijk Museum.