instory of a very early picture
This article was written in 2017. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.
I visited this wonderful workshop in which Andrea Stultiens told us about a project she’s been working on. In this project she asked artists in Uganda to make their own representation of this photo. This resulted in some incredible works of art. Some of those works were easy to misplace with our western background — for instance, I saw influences of Picasso, where there really were none — and others were a bit harder to understand without context. But luckily for us we had Andrea who gave us this context.
The week before the workshop she asked us via e-mail to give an accurate description of what we saw on the photo (or of the woodcut print that was made from that photo). We were not given any context about this picture. This email reached me when I was rather busy, so I quickly wrote down the first things that came to mind and mailed it without too much thought. It turns out my description gave Andrea goosebumps. She published the translation of what I wrote on her blog, you can read it there if you want to.
I found the subject of her project fascinating. But I’m not going to try to recreate it here, it’s much too complex for one blog post. You should really read more about it on her website. And you should visit her exposition in Antwerp in October.
My personal takeaway is the power of working with other artists, and asking for input from others, like she did with her email to my fellow students and me. The story of the image directly gets many more layers. Some historical, some popular, others personal. So much material to think about, to get inspired by, to work with. The end result is of course broader than what she could have done herself. I have a similar approach to some parts of my work and some parts of my research. For instance, my podcasts are a good example of inviting others to give some input in order to gain new insights. But at the same time I see that I find it way too hard to ask others for (creative) input. I often have the idea that asking designers for help would be a nuisance. I need to get over this quickly.