Reindeer fascinate me. The beauty of their antlers, the sounds they make, their stocky appearance compared to other deer, the uniqueness of their fur, their smell: I am a big fan!!! As I am also fascinated by their imagery, I am initiating a project that focuses on the representation of reindeer. At a time that we long for rewilding, how do we cope with the image of cute cuddly reindeer? What exactly makes a reindeer a reindeer, in essence or in spirit? Can we identify that without anthropomorphism, and can we keep this identification intact during representation?
This new project is still in its infancy, and I have not yet decided how to continue or what could become the end result. As a first step, I collect cuddly reindeer from flee-markets and second-hand shops and photograph them.
With proud, but above all with a challenging mix of relieve, excitement and upper concentration, I defended my doctoral research ‘Towards Togetherness: Probing as a decolonizing approach for artistic inquiry’. This PhD research was conducted at LUCA School of Arts, Association KU Leuven (Belgium), partly as a research fellow at the Estonian Academy of Arts within the Marie Curie ADAPTER program. As my exhibition at the Z33 art center was part of this dissertation, the public defence was held at the University of Hasselt.
I kindly thank my supervisors Prof. Patrick Devlieger (KU Leuven) and Prof. Liesbeth Huybrechts (University Hasselt) for guiding me, and the commission members Jeroen Toirkens, Cunera Buijs, Veerle Van der Sluijs and Wendy Morris for their support. And of course my friends, family and colleagues who were there to share the joy!
Hurrah! My thesis has been accepted! After many hours of printing, folding, sewing (by hand and with a sewing machine), cutting and glueing, I have ten packages ready to be send in. Each thesis-package contains five maps (or chapters), a booklet with notes, a reference list and a summary. The maps include stickers, fold-outs, postcards and fabric. Realising how time-consuming it was to craft these thesissen, I almost wished I had gone for a more conventional design. But the end result matches my probing approach very well and I am happy with the look and feel.
A pdf-version of this thesis can be downloaded on the thesis-page (top-menu). However, reading a physical, hand-made version is preferable. Contact me in case in wish to obtain one; I’ll probably make some more in the nearby future ;-).