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Takeover #191 Geertje Brandenburg

Geertje Brandenburg: Instagram / Website

#191 (24/01 - 28/01, 2022) written by Esther van Zoelen

‘To remain and be seen’ as written on Geertje Brandenburg’s website, for her means the way of showing identity. How much control does one have over their own image when other people see it? This visibility can be unpleasant and feel too public, creating a dilemma Geertje sometimes feels when using photographs of other people in her collages and installations. Instead of her artworks being about the portrayed, they often are another way of self-portraying and recognizing herself in them; offering an opening for other people to see themselves and their own stories in it as well. Geertje graduated from the HKU with a Bachelor’s in Fine Art in 2020. She feels that making art for her is inexplicable, it is something deeply human. The essence of her practice is communicating slivers of recognition in form and image.

“I hope that when the audience sees the work, they experience a flash of recognition or remembrance that I experienced too whilst I was working on it. Hopefully somewhere in their heads a train will start to travel.”

Geertje’s studio is a treasury of archives she builds, consisting of many kinds of images such as pictures from books and family photos, and also texts. This collecting is an important aspect to her work, as is placing it in a room and seeing how it works spatially. Being in a space is crucial for analyzing the work, as well as when doing research. For example, to create a work around the story of her grandfather, she visited the places where he had been. Just like in a picture, a punctum can be found. The stories Geertje weaves in her art often already exist and are a way to – again – relate to herself and let others relate to them. She connects these thoughts in installations, as well as in publications. The difference between these two is their perceptual framing and structuring order.

“I think that as a human I only have one benchmark and that is the things that have already happened, something you can factually measure yourself against. And the other benchmark is me. In between I try to find truths and how I relate to certain things. I am also very interested in the transferability of identity. How do works I make about stories from the past influence myself at this moment? How much of me is in a picture from 1950?”

The way Geertje brings relating stories into their material form is kaleidoscopic; seeing things from multiple perspectives through many different media, like collages. She is also interested in dreams, where nothing is correct yet simultaneously very logical. She always uses found images and discovers what she finds interesting about them, not necessarily what they were originally made for. This finding should not only be aesthetically pleasing, her way of using it has to have a reason. Having said that, she also thinks the joy of art is vital. Art’s function does not have to be proven; it is part of our primary needs.

During Geertje’s takeover on Rizoom, we can expect images of her treasure studio with its ‘mess’ and her way of working, a closer look into the process.

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