What to do in corona-times with… Valerie van Leersum

In these times of #stayhome, we want to introduce you to people on the wharf. We’ve asked them for a portion of Monday’s motivation and what’s on their minds now that so many of us are confined to our homes. This week: Valerie van Leersum.

In her work Valerie van Leersum (1973) investigates the imperceptible. In an anthropological way she explores local stories, rituals and histories. She connects the present with the past in order to find the friction between fact and fiction. From her atelier at the NDSM-wharf she creates images and installations about the relationship between man and landscape.

Hi Valerie! What were you working on before the coronavirus got the upper hand?

I was working on an imaginary study of the Horizon. I did this as part of the Oerol festival, but unfortunately this can’t go on this year. Looking at this apparent line, which connects us to the distance and at the same time brings us back to our self seems to be made for this time. The subject has caught my attention, so I’m slowly working on it and trying to experience the topicality in it. We are going to show it sometime.

That would be nice! Now, have you delved into something else?

I’m quietly continuing to work in my studio. I’m currently working on a portable expedition kit for the North Sea Embassy. Last year, I researched the colour of the North Sea.

Do you listen to some music whilst at it?

Wouter Planteijdt’s new record ‘Bullhorn’. My husband on double bass, so a bit prejudiced but really nice!

I’m sure he’s worth listening to! What are you doing yourself to get through this difficult time?

I’m currently reading two books. ‘Conversations with Friends’ by Sally Rooney which I got from a friend. I hear her laugh when I read it. And ‘Mondrian from Nature’, a book written by Marcel van Ool. Also very beautiful!

That should keep you entertained for a while. Do you also listen to podcasts?

Every day I listen to an episode of ‘Alone on an Island‘. Life radio reports by Godfried Bomans and Jan Wolkers, who each spent 7 days in solitude on Rottermerplaat in 1971.

It seems as one can sometimes feel a bit ‘alone on an island’ during these times as well. May I also ask for a good film tip?

A film I recently watched again, and think is beautiful is ‘The Weeping Meadow’ by Theo Angelopoulos. The music is melancholic but goes straight to the heart!

Is there something we better refrain from?

We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was exactly the problem. I think it would be desirable in our global world to connect more with the local. In place and in time. Personally, I think the latter is quite a challenge. I think we are also invited to reflect, experience and think about other structures. We have to and we want so much, that sometimes we ignore what is right in front of us. This dazzles the unexpected.

Is there anything we can do to make that connection?

Listen to nothingness every day.

What would you like to do that now seems forbidden?

Being together with a nice colleague, in the sun, drinking coffee on the slope.

Click here to view the work of Valerie.

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