In summer 2019 I visited the Death Valley desert in the USA. It was my first time in the desert and it made an enormous impact on me. Somehow the mystery that struck me there kept me intrigued. What makes the desert so mysterious? That is what became the central question of my research. In 2020 I started graduating and began looking for answers while watching a bunch of desert movies. Just to see if there are certain similarities between them and the characters that play in them. There can be different causes that make the desert a surreal place. The extreme temperatures can lead to hallucinations, you can start seeing fata morgana’s etc. But the thing that stood out the most originated from philosophical theories. Because most of the time you are isolated and alone in this landscape, there is nobody to test your the reality to. Is what your seeing real if you are the only one experiencing it? Besides this, the deserts’ emptiness, the stretched out arid land can become a big projection screen to project your dreams on, its a place where there is enough space for them because there is less distraction as in the civilized world. This makes it a place where the outsiders of our society feel more free.
In my graduation project I am playing with the theme of how the desert can blur the borders of reality. Sky And Sand is a zine, thats tells the story about Hunter, a man that gets lost in the desert and describes his experiences in his chaotic diary. The heat and solitude drives him to madness and he starts to talk with the spirits of the desert. These spirits takes solid shapes in the story as well as in the installation that Sky And Sand is exhibited in. Together with furniture artist Koen van Eeckhoutte, I created a table and a chair that have the shape of the desert spirits.
Since Sky And Sand, the desert became a recurring theme in my work. Especially desert stories started intriguing me. Why do people live here, or go there? What attracts them? And what attracts me? Maybe it is the way you disconnect from everything in the desert, and the introspection after a period of solitude that lights up different interesting thoughts or perspectives on life. Because nowadays we are so connected with everything all the time and trying to be a somebody, the desert can be a fresh disappearing into the ancient nothingness where you can be nothing and nobody again.