Lens-based performance artist Kim Engelen



Videostill Borderlines Tape#hair

Other texts:
The New Studio Visit – Alternative Feedback Session by Kim Engelen 2013>>
Cydney Payton 2012>>
Lori Wax, dOCUMENTA (13), 60 wrd/min art critic, 2012>>
René Fidel Lazcano 2011>>
ArtPark/Goan Han Lim 2010>>
Urban Video Lounge/Toine Horvers 2010>>
Stichting Picos/Noud Heerkens 2010>>
Pand Paulus 2009>>
Pieter A.J. Reintjes 2005>>
Elvira Eomerovic 2002>>
Arjan Reinders 1998>>

Artist Statement

Artistic points of departure:
The human plays the central role in my work, with the focus on the intrinsic thinking world and the inner strength of this individual. I want to see if I can play with the individual as work in progress. People keep learning, re/creating and re/positioning themselves. This process of change and growth I find interesting. It is my belief that any person is able to discover, investigate and shape their being in contact with others. We are all so alike, and yet so different. This difference I find intriguing. In the meeting with the other through reflection, development can take place.
My work is about themes that are in my opinion the keywords of humanism: fulfillment and development, autonomy (within the meaning of freedom and the pursuit of a good and beautiful life), critical thinking, equality and humanity.

Central interests:
In the processes of exploring themes of humanism, I found a contradiction, which is the power-relationship in the making of work in which equality is lost. At the moment of capturing the footage, there is a play going on with the person in front of my camera. I almost have a private performance with the subject in front of my camera. My ideas that I want to express through video with the person in front of the camera, I consider as a form of cooperation with each other, but as the director and because the fact that I hold the camera I am therefore in control. And my relationship with the person in front of the camera is shifting. It is unequal and that could be treacherous, because it gives the video-maker a form of power. And the person in front of the camera becomes the subject, subjecting themselves to the wishes of the director. And that is exactly that what I am against and of what I want to do, because I want the individual to keep their own voice. I want to see the input of the individual in the work. But this is how the structure of video-making is working. Is it really? Do I want to change these dynamics of interaction? The role of the individual is the most interesting ‘subject’ for me, and the complete freedom of the individual, to show their true character, their personal voice and color.

Theme(s) in my work:
In my latest series ‘Words don’t come easy’, the theme is language as form of problematic barrier or as empowering instrument. In ‘I want to ride my bicycle’, out of the series ‘Words don’t come easy’, the self-actualization of the human is visually expressed by the bike as vessel to move forward in life and on own power. Through a webcam video we see a woman mending the tire of her bike in her private sphere. Overall I tend to use frames with close-ups, in order to show the face in detail and the head in which in my view internal processes take place. But in ‘I want to ride my bicycle’ the focus is on the woman’s action, her process of fixing her means of transportation. The reparation of the bike-tire is a symbol for the development of people who wants to fix their problems and move on in order to continue to try to lead a happy life. The audio part pays attention to the effects of the outer influences. We hear academic English words summed up by a female computer voice and a counting system in the Limburger dialect of the Dutch language. Language is a way to express ourselves: our character, thoughts, feelings, and presence. We want to belong and we want to be safe. But we also want to be free. In order to have both, we try to adjust and loose our personal voice.

Visual language:
I tend to be intimate, poignant and direct. Mostly I use static or tracking shots, with close-ups and straightforward montage. Characteristics of people become visible and the suggestion of the viewer being there as their mirror or as observer as the ‘fly on the wall’. I want to zoom in on consciousness processes with the inevitable that empirical emotions will be reflected.