CHARMAINE DE HEIJ.
TODAY WE ARE TALKING WITH PHOTOGRAPHER & ARTIST CHARMAINE DE HEIJ.
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As what do you define yourself?
I define myself as a photographer and as an artist.
What are your main sources of inspiration and how do you apply them in the work you create?
I have different main sources of inspiration. With my photography I reflect on contemporary issues, that also concern me on a personal level. I get inspiration from the incomprehension of the world we live in today and occurrences close to me .
The inspiration can come from a psychological state of being to identity.
I dig into hidden memories and creates representation of what can be lost in the mind.
What are you currently working on and is there anything you could share with us?
I have several projects I will be working on the next couple of months. One of them will be with the topic of representation, racism and stereotyping of people of colour in Western Society. I am very excited to work on this, and I hope that my project will make the spectator think about the issues that people of colour are facing.
I also have a ongoing project about Corona, and I will continue to add photographs towards the series while the virus is still ongoing. I hope of course that soon this whole situation will be over. I also find it very interesting to see all the other artists that are working on this topic. Another project I want to finish during the next months is a project about Winti, a religion from Surinam. I am also working on trauma. For this I will explore the trauma created by others, and what it did to me. Being confronted with those that created it, made me re-experience everything frequently. It did a lot on my mental state, especially when occurrences repeat themselves. It feels like a rebirth now, and not forgetting who I am anymore.
What is the main theme that you apply in the photos you take? Could you tell us more about this?
I have different themes in my work, I explore different subjects. I always have a personal connection to the themes, and I know these are experiences that some people can identify with. Not everybody can find identification, so I also hope that the people who don't have identification with certain issues can open their mind while looking at my work.
Fragments of reality 1 & 2
How did you start shooting? Has this grown onto you or is it a fascination that you have always carried with you?
I always had a big interest in photography and art. When I was a kid there was a photograph from Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin in a magazine that my mom used to read. It was with two girls eating a ice cream on a bike, and it totally mesmerized me. That was the first time I fell in love with a photograph. That same feeling I got years later while visiting a Gregory Crewdson exhibition. I used to take really shitty pictures with my phone ( I think we are talking about 1,3 megapixels), but a teacher in my high school said I got an eye for photography and that I should do something with it. And actually that made me think of doing something with photography in the future.
Is there a special type of photography that you specialize in?
My work mostly exist out of still lives and portraits.
Fragments of reality 3
Do you like to work on assignment or do you also photograph autonomously?
Most of my work is autonomously, but I also work on assignment.
Does being a woman affect your work?
I actually never thought about this, but I think it does. I look upon things from a female perspective, and my work is a reflection of myself. Nevertheless I hope that people who don’t identify themselves as female, also can see something in my work.
Do you have certain rituals that you get into a good workflow?
Headphones, phone on flight mode, and making sure I don’t have too many distractions. For every project I work differently, but their are some similarities. I do a lot of research, to know more behind my topic. I don’t want to be narrow minded in what I photograph, I find it important to see what other minds think about this. I did a project about Black Hair, and for that I researched a lot about the history, but I also went to a exhibition about the topic. I also always think about what I want to photograph, and how to get the props. For the props I look first what I have at home. Most of them I re-use. Looking for props also gives me a lot of inspiration for images. Thinking beforehand what I want to photograph, makes my workflow going.
What is the main message you want to give to people when they look at your work?
Every project is different, and they all have a different main message.
My work reveals the invisible and I want to uphold a mirror with my photography. I want the spectator to think, and I want to create a dialogue with my photography.
I hope that people can recognize themselves in my work. For fellow artists I hope that they see that the past can be a inspiration, or current situations. The past to learn from, and a current situation to reflect on. I also hope that fellow artists see that it is okay to tell personal stories. If you have something to say: say it, say it loud and clear.
Under my bed