An Interview with Isabelle Wenzel @ Unseen

” No, my work is not intended to be feminist. What is feminism nowadays anyway? My work very much evokes within an inner logic, this is probably not always appropriate.”

By Fanny Landström, ASX, September 2015

Flesh, form, and colour. Movement, and frozen figures. Dutch artist Isabelle Wenzel’s shape-shifting body is going to be exhibited at Galerie Bart’s booth, Unseen Photo Fair 2015, Amsterdam.

FL: What are you showing at Unseen this year?

IW: I’m going to show a selection of 12 images of my latest work ‘Transformations’. ‘Transformations’ is a body of work that combines images of my field studies where I interacted with abandoned landscapes and studio shoots where I captured my own body in movement very performance based. In some of these images several shoots are layered on top of each other in a way that it doubled or tripled my movements. I was interested in bringing together different perspectives from one and the same motive, like a rotation or shift of it.

FL: You have a very coherent visual language, and a distinct style to your work. I understand it that your new works are somewhat of an extension, or an improvement of your previous works? They enlist new angles, compositions, and refinements, but with the same ‘core theme’?

IW: Yes, I would say that as an artist you always get to the point where you get the feeling that you know already what you have been doing and you have to start to reconsider everything. I think the theme of the fair stands quite exemplary for artistic ventures in general. Whereby the unseen is less something you consider towards others but very much towards your own terms and how it’s possible to go on and to achieve a better understanding of the fundamental nature of creative processes itself. For more than 5 years I was mainly photographing myself as material devise at the studio. So I got very secure about what I was doing and was searching for new strategies of how to trigger and force my creativity. To leave the studio was a very refreshing, frightening and logical step. I left the safety zone, suddenly I had an audience by chance; joggers, hikers, bikers and so on passed by when I was performing my actions, mostly with irritated expressions on their faces. Probably they were wondering what this woman in her odd dress was doing out there with her camera on tripod, repeating constantly awkward movements with no recognizable logic. Technically there was also the changing weather situation you can’t control which sometimes gave me very surprising outcomes.

 

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@ Isabelle Wentzel

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@ Isabelle Wentzel

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”I would say that my work investigates into the representation of my own movements. Before I often intended to capture the perfect moment in order to shape my body like a sculpture, now I intend to look at the intervals of a certain movement.”

 

FL: In what sense, other than that they depict only one, are your photographs a study of the human body?

IW: I would say that my work investigates into the representation of my own movements. Before I often intended to capture the perfect moment in order to shape my body like a sculpture, now I intend to look at the intervals of a certain movement. It’s on one hand an investigation on movement in general, and on the other how this fascination constitutes my work. And again, I use the ‘photographic’ eye as an imagination machine where I double and triple myself mechanically without sticking to a chronological order. My entire work is a representation of my fantasies, as example about what can happen within 1/1000th of a second, how my body can look like as a form. It’s a study of my own, body not the human body in general.

FL: Photographic work by female artists, particularly those containing body and performance, tend to be discussed of in terms of gender and automatically labelled as ‘feminist art’… What is your relationship to the word ‘feminism’, and would you describe your work as feminist?

IW: No, my work is not intended to be feminist. What is feminism nowadays anyway? My work very much evokes within an inner logic, this is probably not always appropriate. I like to show what I like to look at, and I do not care about how to name it. I simply like to create things with my body.

FL: Can you tell me about the importance of how your work is being displayed?

IW: The process of finding out the right way to display my work is quite organic. I like to try out a lot of different things. And I’m still on the search for an appropriate way to represent my work entirely. I produce plenty of images all the time and I do consider all of them to be important in order to understand my way of thinking. At Unseen I’m going to show some works mounted on wood, others will be framed without glass, I do not like if there is a layer between the viewer and the image, I like if the works is as direct as possible.

FL: I’m thinking of the works that depicts an actual performance, and the works that are more meticulously staged and constructed.. Do you consider things as chance and control when working with a piece? As in, how that might affect the impression from the viewer?

IW: My general way of working is that I set up my tripod and the camera, get dressed with one of the costumes I previously have picked from my stock. Often I do have a certain movement or action in mind. Then I press the autotimer of my camera, run into position, have some seconds time until the shutter clicks, check the outcome on the screen, and repeat what I’m doing until I got a satisfying outcome. My practice very much comes down to trial and error. I do not have much control about what I’m doing. I like to see how the pressure of time and fortune are able to project fragments of a non-coherent meaning. Some of my actions are more performance based, others try distinctively to formulate an image. I do use photography as a source material, while photographing I do have an authentic experience even if the situation is staged. I think it’s interesting to reflect on the transformation process how lens based media turn a situation into something totally different as it was. So I’m very much interested in the between of a so-called documentary and of a staged set up, where does it start and where does it end.

 

 

http://unseenamsterdam.com/photographers/50

(All rights reserved. Text @ Fanny Landstrom and ASX. Images @ Isabelle Wentzel.)

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