Drawing with Shoe Movement / Two Consecutive Floor Plans from Self-Portrait as a Building (May 21, 2002)


Pencil on paper / 109.7 x 79.8 cm
Private collection

MM: The last twenty-one years, I have been working on a self-portrait in the form of a building. The building is fiction, but everything inside exists in reality. The building is like a gigantic stage set frozen in time with lots of rooms that all seem as if they have just been abandoned. There is no distinction between works of, let’s say, fifteen years ago and a work I finished yesterday. They are placed in the same time frame. Like an encyclopedia, the building is always ready, even though it keeps on changing and growing or shrinking.
I am fascinated by the idea of creating a self-portrait. Not to document my personal history or my personal feelings. That is not the focus of my interest. It has more to do with the idea of constructing a self-portrait and endowing it with its own will, its own life. My other point of interest is the way objects can generate thoughts, how an object outside your body can bring about what you think. And that you can place one object on top of another, and that you can build a room like a wordless sentence...
My work is an ode to the fictional, “as if” way of thinking.
I believe it is important that people deal with fiction as if it were reality, despite the understanding that it is actually fiction. The fictional element in my Self-Portrait as a Building serves as a pole vault, which, upon my release, propels me forward into new territory. It is not an attempt to escape reality; it is a part of reality. I simply want to explore how far one can go in thinking and how that thinking can creep into a particular material which, from that vantage point, is then repeatedly registered in the mind, over and over again.
I have to say, it is fantastic to be alive and to be able to zoom in on a piece of wood that happens to be lying in your garden. I cannot allow myself to leave this world without first having said something. When I was eighteen, I realized that I had an affinity with the language of the visual arts, and I immediately felt a great sense of obligation to use it with care and in a concentrated way. At the time, I was also extremely fascinated by the fact that I wore shoes and that my feet had become so weak after undergoing such a long evolutionary process that they could no longer do without the protection afforded by my shoes. I was extremely fascinated then by how humanity had arrived at the human world through innumerable decisions, and how the human body related to this. I wanted to add a self-portrait to this—not a personal self-portrait in the literal sense, but more the idea of a self-portrait, the idea of a construction, a fictional self-portrait. A construction found outside the body, like shoes. I still believe that art is the language to work in. It is ultimately more precise than science.
After all, what am I? A human being who unfolds into a horrifying amount of objects and language by means of very precise conceptual constructions.