One bile haze
wandering over land
only evident at approach
the oppressive tone of twilight is palpable
watched over loneliness
hidden in a moment
will nobody move seperately
anxiously without fear
overtaken by the future
previously alienated from what we imagine to come
Loren Douma & Sanne Steijger
‘Pray you never meet an artist you admire’, an old professor of mine used to say. ‘And if you do, don’t ask any questions. The art speaks for itself, all the rest is bullshit’.
As this was the very same person who had a big tattoo declaring ‘Don’t accept anybody’s suggestion’, I somehow felt authorized to indulge in random conversations with all sorts of people.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s something in my professor’s warning; talking to an artist can be disappointing. Sometimes rhetoric just takes over and the chat turns into an endless, overwhelming stream of words. At other times, the artists (being human) give dry and simple answers, unable to reveal the sharpness and complexity of their work.
For this reason, talking to Sanne Steijger was a pleasant surprise. Despite her young age, this beautiful 21-year-old Dutch artist and current Volt Café intern has clear ideas and a streamlined way of communicating them. She opened up to Volt Café to explain the thought process behind her art and, as we moved the subject to cities and movies, her charming personality and mature reflections really came through. Sanne Steijger might be new in London, but she’s arrived with big ambitions.
Volt Café: Style is a way to say whom you are without having to speak. Define yourself by an item of clothing?
Sanne Steijger: This very difficult question! I think it would have to be a necklace made from a vintage perfume bottle.
VC: What is a quality or virtue you admire in work?
VC: Can you choose a smell (or perfume) you would like people to associate your art with?
SS: A foggy morning, fresh grass and wet wood.
VC: Can you think of a film that inspired your creative vision?
SS: I don’t watch that many films, but if I do, I prefer the strange ones. I also love stop motion animation and old black and white films.
VC: When you’re abroad, you generally gain more awareness on your cultural identity. What did you bring from Holland to Old Blighty?
SS: A sober look on life… I really like the way Dutch product designers work.
VC: Pick a favourite quote.
SS: ‘Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known’ (Carl Sagan).
VC: Anybody who’ve inspired you, and why?
SS: My sister. She’s a very brave girl and she had to go through a lot of difficult moments in her youth. I’m really proud of the way she’s handled things although her life journey has just began.
VC: Choose a soundtrack for this London adventure.
SS: Other Lives – the album Tamer Animals. It’s beautiful, dreamy and honest music.
VC: Is there a palette of colors you feel particularly connected to?
SS: Natural soft colors and black. I love black.
VC: If you were able to fly across the sky, which city would you choose based on the architecture or the skyline?
SS: I think I would choose Rome because of its skyline. And because I’ve never been there.
VC: On your bio, it says Visual Thinking. Explain what you mean by that?
SS: Everything that comes in to my head, whether it’s something sad, something I’ve seen or I’ve thought, it comes through as images. If I want to explain myself, I like to use images and if somebody is explaining something to me I can visualize what they say very easily.
VC: In your bio it also says you’re very interested in human body. Do you mean the outside form, the shape and size, or the way it works on the inside?
SS: Both. I like to use the organic shapes and imperfections of people’s bodies in my work but what inspires me is the way the body works. I’m very interested in biology and impressed by people who work in professions such as modelling and sports. They have so much control, something I’d never have. And the complexity of the human mind inspires me a lot as well.
VC: What was the concept behind your short film SiO2 made for the project ‘Climate change in 10.000 years’?
SS: The concept began with the idea that we humans might not have control over the changes in our climate. That no matter what we do to prevent it, the world will get warmer and a lot of countries will no longer exist in the year 12012. We outlined four scenarios, all based in a different part of the world, with different local climates and set in the year 12012. One of them was a world that consisted of fog, smoke, and volcanoes and of old industrial areas where the people lived in groups for protection but also moved around individually. These people have accepted that their environment has changed and have had to adapt.
VC: In 2012, to complete a school assignment, you had to choose a random person, interview them and create a collection based upon the story. You ended up exploring the world of schizophrenia and its rules. What’s your vision about this disorder? Why was it fascinating from a creative point a view?
SS: First I’d like to clarify that what most people think about schizophrenia, being a multiple personality disorder, is not true. It is about hallucinations and being depressed. The man we interviewed was on medication and could handle it pretty well although his life was a litany of disastrous stories. The love of his life had been unrequited for more than 20 years; he had attempted suicide twice and had suffered long periods of paranoia in his life. He thought people could read his thoughts and sometimes he couldn’t leave his house for months at a time. A lot to get inspired by, I think.
VC: There is a project you developed about denim and about the healing power of blue in society, as a colour to raise and increase awareness. Explain it to us. Symbolism? Vibrational theories?
SS: I feel like society could be less individual driven. Blue stands for peace and connection.
I collected many things that are naturally blue, such as stones, butterflies and bugs, flowers and dyes. I found out that blue is very rare in nature, for instance the sea is not blue in itself, it’s the way we see it. Water is essentially colourless. The blue hue of water is caused by selective absorption and scattering of light. The sky is not blue either; it’s due to a process in the atmosphere that we see it as blue, because light is deviated from its path without being absorbed and with no change in wavelength.
Blue as a symbolic colour doesn’t refer as much to concrete elements, it’s the associations you make with it.
VC: For the project ‘Climate change in 10.000 years’ you selected a large variety of landscape images. Soft lights and arid deserts, mysterious woods, lunar landscapes, mineral worlds etc. If you could choose one, which landscape do you feel more connected to?
SS: I love being underwater. I like the fact that it is so quiet and relaxed. So beautiful and calming.
VC: Let’s end up with free associations. Yves Klein blue or the blue of the Sistine Chapel?
SS: Sistine Chapel.
VC: Less is more or Less is a bore?
SS: Less is more!
VC: All we need is love. Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story?
SS: Romeo and Juliet.
VC: More likely to happen: a black pope or a sunny day in London?
SS: A sunny day in London.
VC: If you were hypochondriac, what would you be obsessing about?
SS: Stomach pains.
VC: Dirty, dangerous and destitute. Which city do you choose, New York City or Rio de Janeiro?
SS: Rio de Janeiro, as long as my boyfriend came too!
VC: Sanne Steijger in 10 years: define in three words?
SS: Own Small Brand (that counts as one word!), Mother and London.
Words by Virginia Achilli
TagsDennis Bareiro, hku, Loren Douma, Nicky groenewoud, Sanne Steijger, SiO2, volt introduces,