World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-pieces, 14 – Astrid Ufkes
Astrid Ufkes’ Photography is al about ‘Me, Myself and My World’. The subject of her photos arose from the concept that simple, everyday things around you – glasses, flowers, blades of grass, locks, gates, buildings and shoes – get a whole different meaning when you insert yourself into the photo in a certain way.
This is done by adding a figure; a silhouette. In every picture you see that silhouette somewhere, in duplicate; a larger and a smaller version. ‘The two silhouettes are related. I play with the figures until they are in a place which speaks to me.’
There is a difference between both silhouettes: one is Me, the other is Myself. Compare it with Freud’s Ich and Über-ich. The environment around the characters is My World.
Looking at yourself in your world
Astrid: ‘By placing yourself in the picture and thus being able to look at yourself, there arises an interaction with this photographic image, a translation of my feelings, ideas, thoughts, images titled INFINITY or FEROCITY or...
They are different interpretations of the world. This creates an emotion; the picture comes alive. Then it is my world. Anyone could place themselves in it and so it can apply to everyone: ‘looking at yourself in your world.’
Ruud van Empel
Summer 2013 she was in Antwerp, where she visited an exhibition of the photographer Ruud van Empel. ‘I was very impressed. I thought: I should go shooting backgrounds. I did that all summer. The last four / five years I have shot people waiting. After that the idea came to me that a silhouette also says a lot.’
The photos of the silhouettes were made in Stavoren. ‘It was taken against the setting sun on a dike. Soon the idea came to me: I have to use this in my work’. Some see a male figure in it. It can be gender neutral; some recognize themselves in it. It is good to see that others can transfer themselves into it.’
She remembers the first Me, Myself and My World very well. ‘It was a ‘flabberguested’ moment. I had never experienced that with my artwork. I sat at the computer and the picture came alive. I will never forget that moment. ‘
There is a series of Me, Myself and My World in a dental environment. ‘I have a contact within dentistry and I was able to pick up some objects. Suddenly it flashed through my mind: ‘Me, Myself and My Dentist’. This is now a series. Maybe I’ll encounter a subject like that again. It usually arises from a conversation. I see it as an applied form of the concept.’
Astrid has a preference for black and white. ‘It is a personal thing. I have dishes in black and white, paper and pillows. The combination of black and white is something that really suits me.’ That does not mean that she doesn’t make colour photos. ‘Some people like colour more than black and white. They want to hang it in a certain place. For me it is a challenge to work on the idea in a colour environment.’
As a child Astrid was always trying to created unusual things. ‘Making masks from broken sunglasses, creating fantasy landscapes with ink, drawing peculiar figures.’ In High School she took a course in Applied Crafts. Then she started designing clothes.
She did a year at Art School at AKI in Enschede, in the Interior Design program. She modelled clay fantasy figures, made intuitive paintings and finally ended up making photographic images. There she could express herself best. It was great to finally find this, ‘THAT’S WHAT I AM’ moment!
Ruud van Empel’s Photography and Media Art went from Antwerp to New York. It is also Astrid’s dream to exhibit her work one day at a gallery in New York. Why? ‘In that city my work comes into its own; it’s a real drive for me. I enjoy when I notice that my work touches others, that people recognize their stories, their feelings through my pictures. And what better place there is for this than New York?