Beyond Manual

B93, Enschede, The Netherlands

Collective exhibition, result of ARE Artistic Residencies Enschede. Participating artists: Afra Willems, Cynthia Wassink, Debbie Voerman, Edwin Dertien, Erik Put, Erijk Terhorst, Jeroen de Nijs, Judith Schepers, Marlies van Grootel, Monika Reut, Patrick Jonkman and Paulius Šliaupa.

During the months of October and November of 2023 I was an artist in residence at ARE Artistic Residences Enschede in the Netherlands. During those two months I conducted an experiment on 11 local artists entitled Beyond Manual. Its main outcome was a collective exhibition at B93 in Enschede that opened on the 22nd of November.

The experiment consisted of two parts.

In part 1, the artists were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their practice. The questions covered topics such as inspiration, media, prototyping and the creation of an artwork. The artists were asked to not disclose which media they usually work with, so that a manual written by a painter could be useful for a video artist, that of a sculptor for a dancer, and so on. The answers served as instruction manuals of how to make an artwork.

In part 2, the artists created artworks according to another artist’s manual.

This experiment wanted to find out what, how and why do these artists create, but most importantly it was a reason to talk, listen, pay attention to one another, see a different point of view and get inspired.

I approached this experiment by firstly writing a manual and creating a painting according to my usual creative process. I then tried to modify this base painting following the instructions of the other artists, looking for a common ground between my regular practice and opening myself to a point of view of another person, trying to understand their train of thought.  I created 11 paintings according to all the participants.

Beyond Manual had another interesting factor which was the use of Polaroid photography.

The core of this project was to get to know the local artists by interacting with them. The participants invited me to their homes, studios and creative universes. They presented their bodies of work, told me about their life events, artistic inspirations and future aspirations. I wanted to record those meetings. Firstly, they were documented in the words of the artists themselves in their hand written manuals.

Secondly, I chose to photograph them with the use of Polaroid camera. My use of Polaroid was inspired by the placement of the last Polaroid factory, that is located 450m away from the B93 building that houses ARE and the artists’ ateliers.

Polaroid photography (especially done with 50- and 30- year old cameras) is quite demanding. Results of such actions are blurry, overexposed, underexposed, composition is at times imprecise due to the viewfinder’s misalignment, rollers do not distribute the emulsion properly or the camera does not eject the photo whatsoever. The photos obtained are thus very far from being objective, high quality, representational images. They are on the other hand, thick and relatively heavy objects and only one physical photograph can be made at a time. It is a negative and a print at the same time. It is impossible to make an exact copy.

1) Afra Willems according to Debbie Voerman (experiment considered a failure by the Artist)
2) Cynthia Wassink according to everyone
3) Debbie Voerman according to Monika Reut
4) Edwin Dertien according to Afra Willems
5) Erijk Terhorst according to Marlies van Grootel and Debbie Voerman
6) Judith Schepers according to Afra Willems
7) Erik Put according to Edwin Dertien
8) Marlies van Grootel according to Paulius Šliaupa
9) Patrick Jonkman according to Afra Willems
10) Paulius Šliaupa according to Erik Put