Thuistezien 43 — 04.05.2020

Emily Kocken & K. Schippers

During art fairs, galleries do their best to show new or original work by established or emerging artists. You may wonder whether new is still possible and whether an original could exist. In 2015 West presented at Art Rotterdam one of the most intangible art forms: the conversation. The series named ‘Encounters’ consisted of conversations between two experts. They were invited to enter into a dialogue about this shift in tradition and what appears to be replacing it: a focus on methodology. One of these ‘Encounters’ arose between well-known writer, poet, essayist and art critic K. Schippers (1936) and writer and visual artist Emily Kocken (1963), with Judith Vranken, a critic, writer and curator moderating the conversation. K. Schippers has an extensive body of work to his name, including novels, poetry, essays, stories and reflections, and children's books. One of his most famous works is the literary magazine ‘Barbarber’ which he co-founded in 1958 with J. Bernlef and G. Brands. Schippers takes an example from the work of conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp; animated by his work he introduced the readymade as a poetic form in literature. Emily Kocken also works within different disciplines, she published her debut novel ‘Witte Vlag’ in 2013, created a hybrid solo exhibition with video, performance and books at West. She also wrote the ‘Kunstgeschenk’ 2019 for the IKK, the Institute for Art and Criticism, which spread through Dutch museums.

The conversation in Rotterdam quickly turns towards questions about the original and how interdisciplinary developments are expressed in cross-pollination. Schippers emphasizes that it goes without saying, we are constantly consciously or unconsciously influenced by everything around us; other art forms, other artists, but also the light, the weather, (a pandemic), life. It therefore seems difficult to define what is the actual original. Deeper in the conversation, Kocken argues that art is also part of our collective thinking. A thought that sometimes comes to mind when writing her book: ‘ is currently being done exactly the same by someone else.’ Once you deliberately try to create something new and thus be original, it quickly becomes impossible. ‘What's up close, is hidden,’ is a quote from Schipper's poem that he recites at the end of the conversation. You won't succeed if you think about it too much, he says. Being original therefore has nothing to do with whether you already know something, or more precisely what you think you already know, but rather the way in which you will see the known all over again. It is the closest thing that remains most inaccessible to us.