“Sometimes when I’m at a place that I think has potential, I start to dig mentally in my memory and find out which type of images could resonate with the place…”
Bas Princen trained as an industrial designer and architect before earning an international reputation for his photographic work, particularly for reflecting the transformation of urban space. In his projects, he focuses on the frictions between designed surfaces of cities and a “natural” landscape.
His exhibitions include: Shooting Space at Barbican, London 2014; Resources, Witte de With / Tent, Rotterdam, 2013; Photography, Landscape, Image, Architectural Association, London, 2012; projects at Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2004, 2006 and 2012; Reservoir, deSingel, Antwerp, 2011; Five Cities, Depo, Instanbul, 2010; Invisible frontier, AUT, Innsbruck 2008. Bas was awarded a residency in Los Angeles through the Mak Schindler Scholarship. In April 2004, he won the Charlotte Köhler Prize for promising young artists and architects in the Netherlands and at the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture, he was awarded the Silver Lion for his collaborative work with OFFICE Kersten Geers David van Severen.
Bas Princen’s aesthetic lucidity and his eye for void and space enable him to depart from traditional narrative. Yet, he reflects precisely the traditions that have led to the contemporary.
I go out to find photographs in which the artificial and the natural take each other’s forms and in which it is impossible to see if things are being constructed or destroyed. — Bas Princen
Freo Majer in conversation with Bas Princen
What motivates you to participate in Forecast?
I am curious what kind of ideas are out there, particularly in the field of depicting landscape that I am interested in. Normally, you see colleagues or students that are connected and shaped by the school or the field in which you are working together. But with this special approach, we can interact with a wider scope of possibilities. This is what interests me most.
In what way can the application process help with that, finding those people and getting in touch?
I think it cannot be medium-specific in my case, that’s the most important thing. I’m thinking more on a theme, something like: How to depict a landscape, not as a narrative, but focussed on the spatial aspects? That can be photographs, but it can also be a model, a movie or even an interactive animation. I am interested in how to depict the space of a landscape. Depicting a landscape is a traditional part of “art”, but this idea has to be updated and re-examined constantly and through new media. This is an absorbing topic that I like to keep myself busy with.
So would you actually invite people from any background, any discipline to collaborate?
They should really have an interest in spatial depiction and landscape. It should not be portraiture or take any documentary approach, that is not what I understand with this project. It is about spatial depiction.
Have you had a personal experience with mentoring?
I have been teaching myself, and of course I had a couple of great teachers and mentors, and I still refer to them. That is a connection that won’t disappear. I think in good mentoring that is what happens: Although in a strange way it hits a certain kind of equal level, there still is, I would say, a hierarchy. This relationship comes in different kinds. You can oppose someone sharply and actually learn a lot in that process. I think both are necessary. You need both types of mentors.
Is there something that you specifically want to give as mentor?
As I am not a full-time teacher, but an individual artist with my own thoughts and projects, it will be a special situation. What draws me into the Forecast mentoring process is an investment in bouncing ideas off each other with the participating artists/designers. I’d like to collaborate in making a project which is rich in the sense that you understand that you are working within a tradition and that you can make use of that, maybe you can reference an old photo or an artwork or a model, understanding that you are not doing something for the first time, and this is something that I am interested to work with. I am not really looking to completely steer someone else’s idea, I would rather look to add certain layers.