By Anne Nobels
Archival Pigment print
My name is Anne (1993, South-Africa), I live and work in a secluded and very quiet part of the Netherlands called Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. In February 2016 I graduated from the Fontys School of Fine and Performing Arts. I went there thinking I would became a painter but fell madly in love with photography in my 3rd year. Since graduating my work has been showed in several group-expositions and one solo-exposition.
In my photographs I like to test the boundary between reality and fiction. With these photos I give voice to different themes, including ‘fear’ and ‘transience’.
I find most of my inspiration in everyday life.
How did you get into photography? Are you self-trained or did you study?
My father and grandmother were enthusiastic amateur photographers. I even called my grandmother, “Grandma Flash” (“Oma Flits” in Dutch). For my seventh birthday I asked for a camera myself and I got a simple analogue model. In the beginning I took many pictures, but soon I went back to drawing, which was my first love.
Once in high school I started to take pictures again with the camera of my parents, a first generation digital camera with very low resolution. I photographed friends, and myself but I liked to do something creative, looking for special locations or playing around with Photoshop.
Just before I went off to college a got my own SLR camera, but most of my time I spend drawing and painting. I had chosen to study for Art Educator, but at a school that enabled me to also focus on my own work as an artist, because I actually wanted to become a painter. If that didn’t work out I would at least be able to teach art.
By the time I had to choose a technique for my graduation work I had fallen madly in love with photography. They didn’t teach me much about the technical side of photography at school, but they did teach me how to work out my ideas creatively.
What are you looking for when you step out into the day or night with your camera?
I look for something that catches my eye and affects my mood. It does depend a little on what project I’m working on, but I always keep my eyes open for inspiring landscapes, decaying houses and interesting light.
Do you impose any technical limits when you’re taking photographs? For example, do you shoot in a special format, or limit yourself to black and white, or colour? Why?
Not really, I try to find the best fitting technique with what I’m trying to say through my images.
Are your photographs shot in an instant or slowly composed?
Many of my photographs are slowly composed. I work with Photoshop a lot, making digital collages that don’t seem put together. Most people figure out my photos are photoshoped pretty fast, but can never really tell how it’s done. And because I use Photoshop the assumption gets made that all my work is photoshoped, which isn’t true. I like these assumptions because it only reinforces the fact that we are so used to images being photoshoped or otherwise manipulated that we can’t tell the difference anymore between what is real and what isn’t. This fascinates me, especially because it puts Photoshop in such a bad light. Even though it’s much alike a brush for a painter: Just a way to make your ideas visual. Why does it even matter if it’s real or not? It’s about making a striking image.
And as I already stated before, not all of my images are photoshoped, some are shot in an instant. Sometimes you walk in to the perfect situation and you don’t have anything to ad, it just needs to be captured.
How has new technology affected the way you work?
I spend more time behind my computer. The resolution of digital photographs has gotten much better, which is a big plus when you want to manipulate your images, but it also takes more time. Another way it affected my way of working is that I share more of my work online. Sometimes even the same day I make an image I will put it up on instagram. I used to be very careful about sharing my photographs, but in august 2016, after deciding to finally give in and start an instagram account, I discovered that it’s a great way of getting feedback. Feedback from other people than family and friends. It has also been a great motivation to make new work, because I can share my stories with an audience without them being on show physically somewhere.
What is distinctive about your approach? What is the link/theme between your photographs?
The themes vulnerability and transience are at the base of many photographs. People tend to associate negative feelings with these themes, but I think of them as positive. To really connect with others I find it’s necessary to put yourself in a vulnerable position and show your flaws, because your flaws are as big a part of whom you are as your talents are.
Growing older and dying is part of life. Think of this too much and you probably paralyze yourself, think of it too little and you end up wasting your time. I found that being truly aware of transience enhances the desire to live. This makes standing still much more valuable, because time surely doesn’t.
Are you more drawn to interior or exterior spaces? Why?
I love the interiors from houses and other buildings with some age to them. Where it’s notable time has taken its toll. These places have a poetic quality, which attracts me. I grew up in an old rectory and the run-down attic and basement are the background in some of my early work.
But I’m also drawn to exterior spaces, nature in particular. It calms me to wander trough nature, it makes me feel small but not in a bad way. There is so much beauty that isn’t man made and this astonishes me again and again. If I hadn’t become an artist I would definitely have studied biology or chemistry.
Please describe where you live. What inspires you visually about the place?
Vogelwaarde is the name of the village where I live. It’s located at the lowest part of the province Zeeland, the piece that is connected to Belgium. The village is tiny, like most in this area because not many people live here. It’s surrounded by polder and a big sea arm disconnects this part of the Netherlands with the rest of the country. You could say it is a bit empty: flat landscapes with little trees and houses. But I love the stillness of this place and when taking photographs I also look for a certain stillness. Most of my pictures are taken in a 20 km radius around my hometown. I spend a lot of time in the car, because everything is far away and I try to take various routes to discover new possible photo locations.
Have you received any awards for your work?
Yes, I was second at the Kunstschouw Award 2016. I’ve also been nominated for the Foederer Talent Award 2015
Have you had any major influences in developing your photographic style? What other artists (visual or otherwise) and photographers have inspired you?
I’m not able to name a major influence, but the photographers that have inspired me over the years definitely have had a small direct or indirect impact on the development of my photographic style. Gregory Crewdson, Sally Mann, Francesca Woodman, Ruud van Empel, Koen Hauser, Cindy Sherman, Shae DeTar, Stefan Vanfleteren, to name a few.
Are there any websites/magazines that you look at for inspiration? Do you visit galleries – if so, which ones and why?
Of course, because I live far from the bigger cities in the Netherlands I find most of my inspiration online. Lensculture.com is a website I visit regularly and I like to read GUP magazine. I use Instagram and Facebook for inspiration as well, by following artists, museums, galleries and magazines that I like on these platforms.
2017 Group-exposition, 365+1 Beeldbad
Paterserf 10 (former swimmingpool), Oosterhout
2016 Solo-exposition, ‘A longing for light’
Mon Capitaine, Kinderdijk 56, Middelburg
Group-exposition, Kunstschouw Westerschouwen
Gallery of Mira de Koning-Stanojevic, Burgh-Haamstede
Group-exposition, Art Gouda
Spieringstraat 1-3 (former Orphanage), Gouda