(Un)monumenting interview met Elsemarijn Bruys

As part of the exhibition (Un)monumenting: The Future Should Always Be Better, we sat down for a conversation with artist Elsemarijn Bruys. Her work, Volume 2.0, can be seen during the exhibition at NDSM.

Elsemarijn Bruys (1989, NL) is a visual artist with a strong curiosity for sensory perception. In her hybrid practice, she alternately creates sculptures and architectural interventions, but spatial experience is always her starting point. She primarily works with inflatables and kinetic mirrors.

My background in fashion has greatly influenced my material and sculptural work.

Elsemarijn, how would you describe yourself as an artist? What does your practice look like?

Messy 🙂

Haha, okay then. For the exhibition (Un)monumenting, you’re creating a new work called Volume 2.0. How do you see this work in the context of the theme (Un)monumenting?

I am interested in how space and material influence each other and the effect this has on the existing architecture. With Volume 2.0, I create a cube of air that seems to burst at the seams and fight for space. Trapped between the pillars and the ceiling of the industrial warehouse, the semi-transparent inflatable appears to both allow the surroundings to pass through and block the view of it. The work is part of my investigation into how space can be distorted by a temporary intervention that influences human movement. In addition, Volume 2.0 refers to the question of who and what is allowed to occupy space when there is limited space, touching on themes of changeability and temporality, which often form the basis of my practice. This aligns with the theme of (Un)monumenting: who is allowed to occupy space in public space? Who gets to feel represented?


To continue with the “fight for space,” the architecture and the material you choose work together in this regard. Volume 2.0 is exhibited in the NDSM Loods, how does it relate specifically to this place?

“The work nestles nicely into the structure of the NDSM Loods. This emphasizes the gigantic scale you encounter when entering the NDSM Loods. At the same time, the object itself is also of considerable scale, and wedged in the pillars of the Underscate, the space takes on a different character. As you walk around Volume 2.0, you see the edges of the cushion pressing against the pillars of the NDSM Loods, almost as if it’s about to burst. It gives an ominous but also a soft feeling. The semi-transparent material contributes to this as well.

I raise many questions about “occupying” public space.

You mentioned earlier that temporality and changeability are recurring themes in your work. Words that also apply to NDSM; a place full of projects that exist in temporality, a place of movement. Can you explain what interests you about these themes?

The inflatables I create exist only by the grace of the given air: a ‘material’ that constantly surrounds us without us seeing it. By filling a bag with that material, the object suddenly occupies space. In that sense, my work is temporary; it exists by the grace of air.

With the exhibition (Un)monumenting, we also aim to open up the conversation about monuments in general. What are your own ideas about what monuments should be and for whom, or if they should exist at all?

I raise many questions about ‘occupying’ public space. I like to be in places where supposedly everyone goes, like a station. Where everyone uses it with a purpose without too much interference from differences in culture and background. They are, in a way, anonymous spaces. I hope that in those places, it’s not about claiming space, as I find that a complex issue. Whose street is it, and which monument has the right to stand there? For whom is it there? I see many sculptures in public spaces as snapshots of time, and I am very pleased that there are increasingly different monuments for many more different people/groups/cultures.

Check out the work Volume 2.0 by Elsemarijn Bruys during the exhibition (Un)monumenting: The Future Should Always Be Better, on display until February 18th, Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM on the outdoor grounds of the NDSM shipyard and in the NDSM Loods.




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