Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.
Grenade (for fun) - From Bad Trip series 2018

Hi, I’m Thomas and I’m/was scared of terrorism

May 16, 2018 - Thomas Kuijpers

Hi, I’m Thomas and I’m was scared of terrorism

My recent work Bad Trip also is influenced by a large deal of collectivism, although this wasn’t the first intention. Where with the Twins were still beautiful the massiveness and quantity were important, and the collection was the intention and core-concept at itself, this was already completely different with the Gesture series, where a collection of images was there, without knowing exactly how to distill the narrative I was looking for from them. In Bad Trip yet another approach emerged, where the collection kind of guided me back to rationality.

 

The preface of this project is found at the moment Trump is elected as president. I kind of fell into a dark hole after this moment. Where my practice before was mostly about understanding the structures behind the image, opening up these structures to the public, Trump destroyed these structures overnight by introducing the term ‘fake-news’- instantly making everyone a media-skeptic. Confused about my role as an artist, and willing to understand why people would give their vote to someone like Trump (or his Dutch equivalent Geert Wilders), I encroached into the fringes of the web, tracking the posts of a number of populist communities to study the kind of information their members consume.

 

I made no other work during approx. 4 months, the only thing I did was this. I collected everything I saw, hoping to make sense of it in a later stadium. All articles, images, videos, statistics where indexed mostly as hardcopy in yet another box, as where the newspapers of this period, because most of the time they run parallel stories- even though explained rather differently in these online fora. After a month or so, something weird started to happen to my daily reality. When being at a crowded party, for instance, these Bataclan-flashbacks started to appear, leaving me wondering where to run when someone with bad intentions would come in. Of course, this already happened before sometimes, but I noticed a significant parallel between the information I daily consumed and these moments becoming increasingly more present in my daily life.

 

In an attempt to retrace what exactly inspired this angst, I started taking snapshots of these moments of paranoia. The photographs of these situations where taken back to the studio, where I used the archive of front pages, sensationalist headlines, and popular images to retrace the cause of the paranoia at that moment. I this case I needed the archive in order to rationalize and realize I had been ‘programming’ myself with a heightened sense of paranoia, which could be ‘deprogrammed’ by retracing these steps. The exhibition text for the Foam talent show, in which part of this project is currently touring to London and Frankfurt, sums this up beautifully:

“With his therapeutic practice of collecting and deconstructing the visual make-up of a shared paranoia, Kuijpers questions how our perception of reality is led largely by sensationalism, fake news, and irrational fears.”

 

For a more extended view on the series, see last years Foam Talent Issue or the Artist Feature here.

 

I recently made the last image for this series, haven’t retraced the steps for this one yet, maybe it’s not needed for this one. Here is the image, and the corresponding text (most of the works in this series have a small diary-type of text on the back putting the moment in perspective):

 

 


Grenade (for fun) - From Bad Trip series 2018

18-3

We had a great day in Brussels, visiting friends and eating fries. Around two we walked back to the train station, to catch a train home. At the traffic light just before the station, we saw about 10 police cars passing by with sirens, driving towards the central station. My girlfriend immediately said: “there’s something going on Thomas, an attack.” I said: “no man, nobody is panicking, if it were serious you would have known.” We walked closer to the central station, and people were still quite calm. No police, no army, though a strong smell of explosives was present. On the square in front of the entrance, I saw a lot of fireworks, like the ones used at football matches. We walked into the main hall and it’s filled with smoke, the smell of fireworks even stronger. My girlfriend doesn’t want to go in, she doesn’t trust the situation. I see the sticks of fireworks, the remains, and think it is quite a dumb and provocative location to fire off fireworks, but immediately know it is harmless. No terrorist would pronounce his attack with dozens of colorful fireworks. The fog was a bit red-ish, as far as I could tell. I convince her it’s all okay, and we can catch the train. Think this means I’m healed. Terror threats haven’t been super present in our daily news the past weeks, ISIS seems to be defeated for the most. This was the first time I felt the bad trip disappearing from my system. Later when I looked it up, it indeed turned out to be football hooligans of Luik/Liege, that misbehaved. My rational response was accurate.