Jeroen De Wandel — Stroking the inner side of the skin

Interview: Bob Vanden Broeck


We find ourselves on the fourth floor of FOMU. The fourth floor is divided into three orderly spaces. Perhaps you’re in one right now, or have already seen another or are planning on seeing all of them soon. Remain in front of or walk back to Jeroen De Wandel’s work. Now where are you?



If you had to describe your work thematically, what would those themes be?

I prefer people to look at my work with an open mind. It isn’t a matter of knowing but of feeling. Of course there are subjects that are important, that return. Impermanence, for example, is a theme that I have approached in various ways, in different projects. Here at FOMU too.

There is a multi-layered dialogue between the works and the space within which the works are displayed. How did you arrive at this idiosyncratic image composition?

You can see that two photographs overlap each other, that contrasting colours play off each other. If I move a photograph ten centimetres to the left, then the entire composition falls apart. My gut instinct determines the composition but that instinct is determined by the location and the moment in which I find myself. At the next exhibition, the format and the position of certain photographs may be completely different. A person is a bundle of contradictions.

And that creates a multi-layered dialogue between the works and the space within which the works are displayed.

That’s how I explore the space. The two pictures on the edge suggest an inner space, a room within a room. I place a bell jar on a tree trunk in the museum room. The dead insects under the bell jar link the object substantively with the dead flies in the photograph on the far right. As a result, there is indeed a layered dialogue. I apply considerable tension to the notions of inside and outside. So it’s important to view the images from a certain distance. Then you can sense the different spaces that are situated in and around us.

So this is why you put the emphasis on materiality both in and on your photographs?

Tactility is hugely important. You can take feelings very literally. That’s why I focus on structures. Sometimes my peers call me an abstract photographer, but what I’m looking for is the border between art and reality. Is photography the right medium for this? I’m experimenting more and more with other media.

© Jeroen De Wandel
© Jeroen De Wandel
© Jeroen De Wandel