Niels Vermeulen

nielsvermeulen.com

Interviewed by Niels Vermeulen


Practice

Definition

A cross is something special. It is two lines intersecting. Crossing something is changing your space.

Approaches

When collaborating I like to work with people that have a certain way of seeing things: playful. Making jokes is important.
I am an artistic researcher making art. I use all kinds of material and systems to connect my artistic actions to life itself. [...] I continuously reshape my practice in a way that I find interesting. I use spoken word, written words, body movement, musical instruments in traditional and non-traditional forms.

Learning

The mistakes and the failures.

Q: Could you describe your artistic practice? 

A: I am an artistic researcher making art. I use all kinds of material and systems to connect my artistic actions to life itself. I continuously reshape my practice in a way that I find interesting. I use spoken word, written words, body movement, musical instruments in traditional and non-traditional forms. I am fascinated by the human sensory system. Birds. Also I integrate short and long durational artistic actions in my teaching and in daily life. So to speak I am living an artistic life, just because I love it. And humor. That’s an amazing thing. 

Q: What defines your practice as being cross arts?

A: A cross is something special. It is two lines intersecting. Crossing something is changing your space. I don't define my practice as cross arts, just because It is not a term I use. I am using the words Artistic practice, Artistic Research and 'composer' and 'performer' . Also I sometimes use the words 'experimental' , 'synthesist' , 'teacher' , 'writer' and 'learner' . So, in a way I am still searching for the right words for the right context. But afterall I call myself an Artist. Prince got it right after all. I am not Prince by the way. That would not be clear.

Q: How are you approaching cross arts collaboration(s)?

A: When collaborating I like to work with people that have a certain way of seeing things: playful. Making jokes is important. If someone is not able to find the playfulness in life than I dont really like to collaborate. 

So, also I am hosting a lot of collaborations. That means that other people will do the work and I get the money. Some people refer to this practice as 'education' . Great term. I love education. It is a weird environment where people are often so serious about what’s going on. After all it is people getting together. Doing things. And then writing lengthy reports about what they have learned. Or getting numbers or letters on a paper. I think it's about feeling. About feeling good about yourself. Challenging yourself, getting noticed. Being in tune with your sensory system. Well, so the answer to the question is, I approach my collaborations with enthusiasm and play, looking for struggles and pleasure. The struggle is to stretch the comfort zone. The pleasure is to enjoy the whole thing. Most of the times these two intersect. Like a cross. 

Q: What have been your key learning moments related to cross arts making or collaboration?

A: The mistakes and the failures. Once a participant of a workshop refused to put a Post it on a wall because he thought it was childish. I thought a lot of it afterwards. At the end we had a conversation. That was to late. I changed my way of operating due to this mistake. If now someone has an issue in a project I am immediately responsive: great, we have problem!  Let's have a conversation. My solution now would have been to let the person be the audience for a while. Just look at what’s happening and check your sensory system. What do you like? What do you feel? Since this particular mistake I have realised that the workshop is also one of my pieces of Art , just as my Art is my piece of Art. So I have to be myself in all situations and respond creatively. Art needs an audience. I need Art. Hence I need an audience. And the audience is everywhere. You just have to let them know you are performing. Or not. Than it is a secret performance. Does that make any sense to you? Of course it does. You are a great audience. Let us enjoy a drink in the foyer and talk about the keywords. Did you by any chance move your torso while reading this? If not, why not? Try it, it is nice. Put on some music and start moving a bit. And then close your eyes. This interview is done. May your imagination take over for a couple of minutes. And then let me know what you saw. Always a pleasure.