Niek Hilkmann is a twenty-first century polymath with a background in art history, media design, musicology and natural history. Within his work he focuses on the grey areas between (uncontrollable, or unexplainable) human behaviour and the dry, often pseudo-scientific methods that try to justify, or explain them. In other words, on how humanity tries (and fails) to keep a grip on a world increasingly in thrall to a systematic production of knowledge and technology. He also writes and performs great Dutch language pop songs.
During their residency in Hull, an old whaling port, Niek Hilkmann, with “remote” help from Mathijs van Oosterhoudt*, examined the cultural framing and exploitation of whales throughout the ages, using a miniature whaling exhibition, in which the paradox of the whale being both a culturally abstracted creature, and a lucrative natural resource, is showcased with the help of handcrafted peepshow boxes.
Niek also performed a couple of sets of his Dutch language pop songs in the main gallery space.
*Mathijs van Oosterhoudt is an artist that engages critically with the political landscape of media, exploring the direct and indirect social and cultural influences of optical technology. This often goes side by side with the creation of cameras and other optical devices that seek to challenge the history of photography.