As a viewer, I am struck by the eclecticism of your images. How would you describe the core of your art practice?
Usually, I start with a drawing, then continue planning towards a process of building something or producing video material. Often, digital material leads to a physical translation of the work and vice versa. I consider my practice a series of attempts to channel the abundance of images into a work of art in an associative way. I shape my associations in order to communicate them to others.
Within my practice, I work at two different paces. One pace is very slow: works develop and grow over a long period and I need this time to give it the right shape and meaning. I showed Comment Aller Au Ciel? for the first time when I graduated from KASK & Conservatorium and I am currently still working with the same wild world full of different characters. My graduation show was a video work of 1,5 hours, projected as fragments on rounded walls that I made in the basement of the school.
I like having these two paces: one very slow and personal, the other one fast and produced as a duo
On the other hand, I work together with Sarah Lauwers, who also happens to be my girlfriend. We refer to ourselves as Sarah & Jonas or Jonas & Sarah. In the interaction with her, I work a lot faster. We blur the lines between performance, video and our bodies in a playful and intuitive way. I like having these two paces: one very slow and personal, where things don’t show themselves for a long time and take time to gather meaning, the other one fast and produced as a duo.
You are trained as a photographer. How did your practice evolve into this more corporeal direction?
It’s a classic tale: I was six years old when I got hold of a camera. I couldn’t be retained: I’d photograph anything and everything. Obsessed. The decision to study photography wasn’t a choice, it was evident at that point. I pictured myself graduating as a photographer and travelling the world, the way I had seen other KASK & Conservatorium graduates do before me. But when I started my degree, my approach to photography completely shifted.
The decision to study photography wasn’t a choice, it was evident
To be honest, I was influenced in a big way by the seminars of Hans Theys (teacher, art historian, writer). There was a certain brutality in how he treated images, in his way of decomposing a work. As an analogy, he would take a stick, break it in two and continue to toy around with the separate pieces. His seminar offered a significant momentum for me and the way I approached my practice.
Which artist do you look up to?
Laure Prouvost, definitely. I was truly blown away by Deep See Blue Surrounding You (2019) when I saw it at the Venice Biennale. It was a meaningful inspiration for my work: Comment Aller Au Ciel?.
You are collaborating on the project/exhibition Uninstructing Photography at KASK & Conservatorium. How do you look back on your studies?
As a student, I often felt reluctant towards some of the mandatory projects. Photography is part craft and though I am grateful for it now, I wanted to explore very different options. So much happens in the few years you spend studying and I feel like the real process of reflecting on it has only just begun. I had to defend the work I wanted to make. I don’t necessarily need feedback to fuel my process, I am pretty autonomous within my practice, so being faced with all these people having their thoughts about what I was making was intense. Some thought it was bizarre that I stayed in the photography department, but it gave me the privilege of taking on a certain role. Teachers knew that I would probably find ways not to take pictures but still produce something valuable.
Photography can be a very rigid thing, but I can tell that there is an open window to break it down. Now is also an interesting time to search for the extent of what photography can be, or to question its right to exist as an artistic medium. It has been great to give voice to the students and have them lead these discussions.
Now is also an interesting time to search for the extent of what photography can be