Rachel De Joode

Do you see your affiliated projects, such as the De Joode & Kamutzki auction house and your commercial photography studio Stu Stu Studio de Joode, as activities that inform and operate around your art making practice, or as activities that form a direct part of the body of work you produce?
I see these occupations as separate things, especially my freelance work (Stu Stu Studio de Joode), that’s all about getting paid for helping clothes-brands sell products. That’s not in any way my art. The auction house (de Joode and Kamutzki) is a curatorial project and an investigation in the economic worth of art, this is more linked to my art-practice, but also, I don’t consider this to be ‘my artwork’.

In the documentation of your works, your gallery-installed sculptures exist in homogenous, white walled, identifiably “art” spaces, and in your studio-based practice the backdrop of the simple colour gradient is something that plays a major role in the framing of your work. Do you feel that this “setting” of your work is a conscious negation of site specificity, or something that you feel is symptomatic of how art is currently disseminated?
The works I shoot in my studio can be considered traditional still life photography (works such as ‘Clay Scrollbars And Several Rocks’ or ‘Sculpture In The Space Between Blinds’). These works live a life as such: printed out and framed. Objects are staged and the background is chosen specifically. Art documentation is something different, it exists circulating on the internet, on art-blogs, in books and magazines. The codes of our contemporary art-world forces these images to look the way they look. Of course, paradoxically, it’s the same thing (a still life): staged artworks in a white cube. When I make works that exist in a gallery space, I play with these codes, these signifiers of the white cube art-documentation.The works I make deal a lot with issues like two-dimensionality versus three-dimensionality, with proportions with performativity of the work, with surface, with ‘in-real-life-ness’. Art documentation stays an image of a stage: an installment of artworks that are presumably to be seen IRL and often buyable: a shopwindow image. A still life is something different.

Your work has often drawn upon cheap or “free” resources on a global scale from euro store bought items, mass-produced frozen pizzas and online distribution, with Wi-Fi acting as a kind of resource for praxis. In a work such as ‘Subject of Labour’ you claim that the piece “questions truth, realities and the significance of raw materials as universal means of production”, so I want to ask, is your elevation of resources that are taken almost for granted part of a wider societal critique of consumption?
Working with materials like that is in a way a critic of consumption, but for me it’s more an exploration of cultural objects (artifacts) and semiotics. I am more interested in what a frozen pizza or faux marble means in terms of how does it fit into our human existence? What is the thing-in-itself, without criticising global capitalism. Of course, this is part of the question, but, for me it comes second. In this specific work ‘Subject of Labor’ I was investigating the possibility of “fake art-like materials” such as wood-printed plastic, fake marble or stone-spray, replacing “real art materials” – an investigation in value, but also in semiotics and truth, in surface and reality: which material is more “real” fake wood or real wood? Which material has more “right” to be an artwork?

The “About” statement on the front page of META Magazine claims that it’s aims is “To play with information in all its astatic glory.” This seems to me to bear direct relations to your art making. Do you feel that your role in META is a sort of curation of information; adopting elements of the same approach you utilize to curate the objects in your works that form your sculptures and photographs?
Meta is unfortunately not active as it used to be because I don’t have so much time at the moment to maintain a fluid feed of stories. Myself and three others launched the project about 5 years ago with the intention to present our thoughts, research, interests to ‘the world’ as a Wunderkammer. We published I believe up to 50 stories so far. Now we’re taking it slow; maybe publishing a few stories a year. I always enjoy the crossover between art-science-theory-nature and researching things that happen ‘underneath the surface’ in unexpected corners. It has been important for me as a large pool of knowledge and research. But, it has not much to do with my practice, other then the stories that we publish are things I find interesting, so it’s a bit of a peak in my brain.


Projects such as your ‘What is the artist?’ survey utilize a very playful approach to the role that the artist occupies, while still containing an underlying seriousness in it’s critique, by asking questions such as whether the person taking the test admits their biases of primarily thinking of an artist as a man or woman, black or white. What is your relationship to assuming the mantle, or job title if you will, of “artist”? And do you feel there is a diminishing sense of criticality in the adoption of the role “artist” in a lot of contemporary practices?
I think ‘the artist’ is less of an individual and more of ‘a role’ then for example a writer. A writer is always thought to somehow be the main character of the novel. The artist is more a stereotypical person, less related to the work he/she makes and more a general stereotype. I just think it’s amusing, especially when viewing the world from an alien perspective, it’s an extremely funny and silly thing an artist. Personally, I think it’s ok to be ‘the artist’ depending on the circumstances, but on family gatherings or other non-art-related social events at least I know how people assume me, my persona, to be: poor, a bit crazy, serious, probably feminist (when female), a dreamer, living outside society etc. It’s ok, I can play along. It’s all a game anyway: the human condition.

You frequently refer to your work as objects even though in a lot of cases they are composites of numerous different materials and components. As examined by figures such as New Media theorist Lev Manovich the cinematic technique of “compositing” forms a major practical & technical part of computer usage. Do you feel that your compositing of separate materials into documented objects has a relation with the potentially homogenizing effects of the screen, and it’s blending of multiple, heterogeneous spaces?
Probably, but I can’t answer this right now.

Your work’s full awareness of its lifespan and representation is quite easily allotted into ideas and notions of Post-Internet art, with Marisa Olson contributing to your exhibition catalogue Real Things, and Jennifer Chan explicitly discussing concepts of Post-Internet art with her essay Stacking and Leaning for the same publication. I wanted to ask you directly what your standpoint and relation is to this term and the various discourses that surround it.
I am not necessary a post-internet artist. I don’t want to claim myself to be, at least not in first stance. I work with the idea of real space versus virtual space and ‘IRL-ness’ versus the ‘the digital life of art-works’, but does this make me a post-internet artist? I am ok with being categorized as one but also ok when I am not. I am more interested in working on my art at the moment, rather then thinking to which niche I belong. That said, I am friends with many of them and I think this turn of the digital age is an interesting time to be an artist for sure, I am happy to live now!

In an interview with the website Beautiful/Decay you claimed that, “Regarding any crafts, I am an autodidact.” As an artist myself, my practice is heavily concerned with understanding the effect that processes of auto-didacticism as formulated by contemporary network culture have upon the creation of artworks. I know that for me personally, the use of auto-didacticism to facilitate the creation of artworks can feel like I am engaging in some form of digital “craft making” to positive and negative extents, and I wanted to ask you what your personal relationship to auto-didacticism in the arts is, and if there are any certain political and ideological standpoints for you in this employment of self-education?
I am a do-er, I want to do things and get things done. Often, when I don’t have the possibilities (financial recourses) I am forced to simply do it myself. Sometimes this turns out well, sometimes not so well. But, I always learn something along the way. It’s not really a choice to be autodidact/to do something myself, it’s more a result of me being impatient, poor, independent etc. And because it’s not by choice, I also don’t have any political stance towards being autodidact in many things. It’s just the way it is, things need to be done.


In some of your works such as Clay Scrollbars and Several Rocks, or Sculpted Human Skin In Rock (I & II), I feel like the distortions of form in these works emanates from an almost perceivable physical exertion, that has taken place upon these objects and sculptures through the technological processes of representation and manufacturing they have undergone. Do you feel that your use of texture, force and re-shaping in your sculpture’s are part of an aim to humanize the mass produced objects and materials that you use?
That’s an interesting way of seeing it! I guess I like to use Anthropomorphism, or personification in my work. I like to attribute human form, human gestures or other humanness to inanimate objects, or, anything other than a human being. By doing so it de-centers the human from our very human existence on earth, cause it makes everything comical. Yet, in particular, the stretching and reshaping I personally see more as a homage to surrealism. Like ‘Clay Scrollbars And Several Rocks’ or the shapes of ‘A Ruin’ or ‘Sculpted Human Skin In Rock’. I like this curvy, droopy, drooly, slow-motionness shapes. It gives a character a sentiment to the thing (the artpiece).

In the same way that your sculptural work has become more intrigued by sensations of the corporeal, and how something can manifest physically, do you feel that your process of documentation, which has remained relatively consistent in it’s documentation of the studio and the gallery space, will attempt to embody the physicality of the object more?
Interesting! Maybe, but at the moment I am more busy with the objects on the documentation and how these objects can exist in the documentation and at the same time in real life. I actually stopped doing still life works at the moment. I started to use photography more as ‘two dimensionalisation’ method and less as ‘a storytelling’ or ‘semiotic puzzle’. I can imagine working with the documentation more physically, but, I need to think more thoughts to be able to come to a clear concept or answer 🙂