How will I remember 2020 so far? Staying at home in this pandemic time gave me space to think about a lot of stuff. At the same time, I started a therapy session for my psychological health. Some might think that talking with a psychologist is something to be ashamed of. But I learned by talking about my state of being with my friends and parents, it is not weird at all. And actually a lot of people I know had visited a psychologist in the past. When you change your perspective of having therapy sessions is actually a positive and powerful act, you can have peace with it. Now that I embraced the situation of my psychological health I took a moment to reflect on it. Personally, this period created new chapters in my inner developments.
The theme of this chapter in my life is called: Reset, Be Inspired and Act. During the Reset I started working on my psychological status. Mood swings were bringing me up and down and triggered me to think about personal systems I wanted to change and personal qualities I wanted to embrace. To Be Inspired in this journey I searched through my own archive of projects I did so far. To search for an overall meaning in my work that I did at the art academy and university as well. My comfort during these days were works from other artists, musicians and poets. (At the end of this article I will share my favourite!) At last, it was time to Act in the name of the good things that inspired me. To visualise my fragmented identity and nationality and make my own art. And more importantly, in the end it all comes together; my passion to research and talk with different communities and unique individuals about their life in a fragmented society and their journey of finding who they really are. Because we all can have struggles and moments of enlightenment about our own identity.
Before I started studying at Erasmus University for Cultural Sciences, I studied Product Design at Willem de Kooning academy. One of the last products that I made at the academy was the ‘Delftse Djellaba’. It was a search to find connections between the Islamic civilization in Rotterdam and the Dutch culture. From where I come from, many citizens put false labels on people with an immigration background. The Dutch citizens from my town were influenced by the news, social media and their own beliefs. For this reason I find it important to search for overlapping traditions in the Dutch culture and the Islamic culture that I experienced in Rotterdam. Through my research I wanted to highlight the value of the diversity in our country. For this I made illustrations to mix our cultures in images that look like old Dutch tiles. The clothing and illustrations represent a dialogue between two cultures. The Netherlands has a very important connection with Islamic countries. For example, the traditional Dutch tiles (with Delfts Blue ink, which is also not ‘original’ Dutch) is not something the Dutch people have invented. Like these tiles and skills in several crafts, were actually ‘stolen’ and adapted into the Dutch culture.
At the end I designed a piece of clothing that combines traditional Islamic and Dutch influences. I found out that I strive to create awareness and open discussions through my designs. This social perspective brought me where I am now, studying at the University, opening my own studio and working at WORM!
One of my last projects at the university was a movie and art performance with my friend/classmate Julia de Roo. We made a short film discussing topics related to national identity, homeland and borders. We interviewed three persons with different ethnicities. This created three different stories that were later visualized in an art performance. In this way art adds another layer to the story. The candidates were free to paint their body in whatever way they liked, inspired by their own story. We hoped that by spreading art in combination with discussions through social media it will bond people and create awareness.
Inspired by the short film Julia and I made, I did a photoshoot where my friend Jasmijn Mager did the photography and make-up. I wanted to visualize my story about the influence of nationality and my childhood experience on the development of my identity. When I was making a mindmap I first thought about the importance of ethnicity. It can be hard for everyone to know exactly what your identity or nationality is. Like the people in the movie: “My body is (not)a border”. I feel fragmented about my own ethnicity and personality. My father is born in Senegal but comes from an English family. My mother comes from Friesland, the northern part of Holland. They met each other in France, while they were singing songs and performed a stage play about the Christian faith. I was born in the Netherlands in a little fishing town called Elburg where almost everyone is a Christian. When I hit puberty my questions about life and God were getting no answers and I needed a new environment to find out what I believe and who I really am. When I was 20 I moved to Rotterdam where I developed my own norms and values without any religious belief. My identity can be reshaped, but carries a pure core of how I see myself: strong and vulnerable. That is why Jasmijn created a minimal but strong look on my face with gold and black.
Art has a power to highlight topics that other instruments cannot. In this pandemic time I like to write poems, listen to music and make drawings. Now that I was confronted with my inner struggles everyday, there was a bigger need than ever to use my creativity. I felt the need for making art and to design products. My boyfriend built a studio for me in our basement to make earrings. The earrings are made from leftover material of the recycled plastic sheets of Plasticiet. With these earrings I want to show the quality of recycled plastic. In combination with my own drawings I sell them under the name Studio Fantastic Trash. In this way I want to show the world the high aesthetic value of plastic, which has a bad reputation in our mass consumer society.
All kinds of artforms can comfort us for different reasons. It takes time and courage for an artist to find an overall meaning and handwriting in their artistic creation. To look at inspirational works from others, read cultural articles or poems and listen to the album a good friend said you should listen to, it can help to understand more about yourself. My tip for you is the album ‘Soulscapes & Jazz Breaks’ from Lady Paradox. I can play the song ‘I Wanna Feel Days’ every day. It reminds me to try to take the best out of myself and make the most of it each day. It is okay if it is not achievable every day. What you then need is a new perspective. Be good for yourself and be inspired!
See you at WORM soon!