I am an artist and performance maker, working from the Netherlands all across Europe and abroad. I develop and realise crossover art projects in which I combine contemporary theatre, performance and visual arts to create personal, yet universal narratives.
In my work, I critically analyse the contradictions of Western culture and what I call, the the big behinds – the dilemmas between ethical principles and economical interests. I’m fascinated by hidden power structures and the invisible economies and that govern this part of the world.
I create impact through producing accessible and thought provoking works. I aim to challenge my audience by making work that raises questions about the world we live in.In my creations, I focus on how art can directly influence and interact with society, economy and politics at large. I believe that friction creates shape – and I consider this idea the objective in all of my artistic projects: to generate a clash, creatively, that raises questions about our society and our relation to the rest of the world.
I want to introduce an overarching idea of my artistic research with the words of Jean-Luc Godard: It is all about ’doing art politically – not about making political art’. My artistic research consists of four interconnected elements that are essential to my practice:
FROM AESTHETICS TO POLITICS
It is my goal to overcome the threshold between aesthetics and politics. Ideas need to have an urgency in order to create an impact that is bigger than the artwork itself. As an artist, I’m a critical observer of the world we live in – and of the system I operate in. My work creates a shared vulnerability for the audience, the work and also for myself. I want to introduce political thinking in the art-world – without giving up on aesthetic thinking.
A POST-DISCIPLINARY PRACTICE
The new can only arise from the interconnection of different existing forms. I believe in a post-disciplinary artistic practice that expands both, theatre and visual arts, towards unlimited artistic freedom. Only fluid and trans-disciplinary practices (that emancipate from established conventions) can transform institutions and create new forms through bastardisation. Hybrid live art practices provide a creative space where theatre and visual arts are being reinvented. My company should become an artistic laboratory, a “vrijplaats” where we contaminate ourselves creatively and cultivate a sustainable artistic practice.
The integration of “the real” in the arts is an essential principle in my practice. Even though I’m using fiction to create my performances, I introduce real elements. I do not represent a problem, but I work with the problem itself. I use materials that are authentic, raw and concrete, i.e. I work with non professional performers and their stories. The principle of “the real” is based on the concept of the ready-made by Marcel Duchamp. I transform materials into art, that have nothing to do with art in the first place. This shift of context creates a fertile friction. While journalism and science are bound to non-fiction, art is liberated from this obligation. Art has to provide fiction and in doing so, art might possibly come closer to reality than anything else. I want to bring reality into the theatres and I want to bring theatre back to reality. The ambiguity of docu-fictional elements activates the critical thinking of the audience. Examples include refugees and debris from Syria in All Inclusive (2018), liposuction fat in the Human Soap of Schuldfabrik / SELF (2016/2019), real violence and a gamer from Baghdad in The Automated Sniper (2017), homeless people in Still – The Economy of Waiting (2014).
DRAMATURGIES OF THE SPECTATOR
My creations propose new formats, immersive environments and performative situations with the goal to shift the spectator perspective. In my work the presence of the audience completes the work of art. I believe in theatre as a common space where art and society meet. I’m interested in claiming this space to reflect on forms of coexistence. I’m particularly interested in the staging of spectatorship itself: the audience is part of the action, the spectators are directly involved and addressed. Once the act of looking is considered an action, a spectator can become a witness and possibly even an accomplice – in making art. I’m interested to challenge the modes of spectatorship by creating situations that need the presence of the audience as much as the presence of the performer. Examples include: gaming in The Automated Sniper (2017), a walk through factory-visit in Schuldfabrik (2016), a soap shop including hand-washing rituals in SELF (2019) or a direct 1:1 encounter as a base for a conversation in The Economy of Waiting (2014).
– Julian Hetzel, 2023