In, Around and Afterthoughts (On The Fryslan Commission)

I have been meandering around the north of The Netherlands for the past four days, in a beautiful place called Fryslan, on my first proper European commission. The experience so far is a mixed bag of feelings and outcomes - its stressful at times, its tiring at times, energizing at times. It's lonely, its 'nomadic'; I suppose I feel like an outsider coming into the unique atmosphere of the north sea. This is the idea. I have been trying to get a sense of place and then respond to it. The project 'Foreign Eyes' (on Fryslan) suggests that someone somewhere prompted the idea that maybe the region has been represented in a similar way through photography for too long and they want an outsider to trespass and re-negotiate it.

The work thus far is arbitrary. I cannot visualize a single coherent project. So far, I believe I have the 'bones' of several potential bodies of work; though it is difficult to command an approach when you do not have any printed material to assess (one problem with the analogue process, I suppose). One such speculative body of work which has appeared is called 'Broken Landscapes'. These are taken from places which are allocated as viewing decks for scenery. My views deny the audience the actual landscape itself - broken up by obstacles and seperated by, for instance, glass on bus shelters, my car window, etc. I am imagining these will have a painterly-like effect which might be interesting. Another proposed project is one I have entitled simply 'Low-Level Landscapes' - more of a 'Becher-type' approach to documenting these consistantly flat and compact areas of land seperated by canals. I am torn between this 'German' approach (meaning a more neutral, debased skyline and an emphasis on the topographic differences) and referencing the classic Dutch landscape style (which, for example, also contain lower horizons which made it possible to emphasize the often impressive cloud formations and unique variations of light that are so typical of the region).

Another project in its infancy is a series from (outside) abandoned shops and factory units - adapting a more abstract approach to the space. They are monochromatic, visually interesting and illusionistic in effect - a kind of 'trompe d'oeil' outcome. This 'trompe d'oeil also references seventeenth-century Dutch traditions - it enabled artists of the time to render objects and spaces with playful eye-fooling exactitude and raise questions about the nature of art and perception. The idea here is to respond to the empty space and propose a series of exhibitions in these spaces in October (the sponsors seem to like the idea).

But, above all, it actually makes sense that I am doing this - both the assignment brief and the space allocated. It is challenging to work within given limitations (spatial and otherwise), and still feel a certain amount of freedom to stay true to ones own artistic dispositions. These things cannot be forced. Though, having said that, I am of-loading 10 rolls of film a day, and the impulse to produce is determined and fresh right now.