Goodbye 2019, Welcome 2020

As 2019 comes to an end, it is time to review the year and look ahead to the year to come. From a Barbie role model to a university guest lecturer, 2019 was filled with honourable stages and rewards.

Much time of 2019 was devoted to moving from the city Amsterdam to a country side village in the lake district of Friesland. In between these private life adventures, there was plenty of opportunities to travel across the world to share my work. I have presented my latest project on a stage, shared with colleagues I have admired for at least a decade. I have challenged myself to give talks and share my thoughts not with images, but in words.

On International Women’s Day I had the honour to be chosen by Barbie as one of the 60 female role models to inspire a new generation of girls. As a mother to a 3 year old girl, it was wonderful to share the book with these 60 stories of strong women with my daughter. It is a precious gift to share my story in such way that it can move and inspire young girls.

In the meanwhile I have been experimenting in my studio with techniques I learned and observed in North Korea. From Chosonwha painting (ink on rice paper) to mosaic art. These materials and technical processes inspired me. I experimented on how to incorporate them into my photography. I have shared some of my experiments on Instagram, and will sure keep on doing so during the upcoming year.

The summer brought me back to Aomori in Japan, where I could bring the works of Ode to Nebuta back to the prefecture where they were created. They were exhibited in an old sake factory in Hachinohe. The smell complemented the colours and the sound of the exhibition. It turned out to be the perfect place. Also, it was a trip down memory lane; it was heart warming to see the places and people that have gotten so close to my heart again.

In September, me and my husband Cris went to Sharjah. We both had the chance to show our work during Xposure. This photo festival blew me off my feet. Each exhibition was well-curated, beautifully displayed and the overall level of the festival was beyond expectations. Also, I gave a seminar describing my upcoming project in North Korea. I shared that stage with names… colleagues I have admired, some of them since childhood. Well, it is fair to say that I felt among the stars in photography-world, and as a cherry on the cake, we all received an ‘Oscar’ to even feel more like a star-photographer.

To conclude the year I gave a guest lecture at the University of Leiden to master students at the department of Korea studies. I spoke about my experiences in North Korea, and what I have learned about North Korean art and its artists. My latest travels to North Korea have been alongside and with Koen De Ceuster, a professor at this university. I felt proud to have the chance to feel like a professor for a day too. Maybe a bit because some of my high school teachers believed I wasted my talent by going to art school, and now I can tell them I still made it to university 😉 But mostly because by working with De Ceuster I started to see that the synergy between science and arts is truly inspiring, and it enriches the stories the we can tell.

For 2020, I hope to further enrich my project that has evolved since 2017. In this project I research North Korean art and its artists. At this moment of writing I am only starting to discover the many layers this project has. Can only imagine how many layers the final works will obtain. I am estimating a production time of at least two month per final art piece 😉 I say cheers to that, looking forward to many hours into my new studio, finally ample of space to create my imagined art pieces.