About Alex's graduation project 'Exercises in Freedom'
"My graduation project ‘Exercises in Freedom’ originated in parallels I’ve noticed in what I’ve felt in the past as a gay teenager in Eastern Europe, and in the present—as a migrant adult in the West. To visualize the idea that any society wants to grind down the misfits, I’ve worked with people sharing experiences similar to mine, until boundaries between our individual and collective emotions disappeared."
Hi Alex, congrats with your graduation! For starters, where does your love for photography come from?
In my family no-one was really interested in art, but when my father my father was young he used to develop our family photographs in the bathroom, and this transformation of an ordinary space into a magic room with mysterious red light is one of my most vivid childhood memories. So I think my romance with photography originates somewhere there.
How did you experience your graduation period?
To be honest, it’s all a bit of a blur. I mostly remember making the decision to just be completely honest and create an authentic work that would be unmistakably mine. I think the graduation period can be stressful because all of a sudden there is this pressure to achieve the unachievable, an ideal and spotless project that would win everyone over. So it’s important to let the work breathe, and not to suffocate it by perfectionism.
What's the most valuable lesson you learnt during your study?
Studies at KABK are very concept-driven. So in the last two years when the period of short assignments finishes, and you start working on long-term projects, the search for a theme or an approach can take a while. It was important to just get going somewhere without having doubts. Just to do what you want, and only after reflect on it. Don’t kill ideas too quickly, see on which journey they can take you—if you allow them to.
Where do you find inspiration?
In reflections of light. In a drop of sweat. In love and pain. In social developments and politics. In sculpture. In the nighttime. It can be almost anything, really.
How does your workspace look like?
What are your 3 favourite places in The Netherlands?
1. Top of the stairway sculpture ‘Kijk Uit Attention’ by Krijn Giezen at the Kröller-Müller museum
2. Dunes around The Hague
3. Any (big) building in a state of decay
What are your 3 favourite Instagram accounts?
What have you recently seen that you think is great creative work?
I was recently watching many films by Jean-Luc Godard. I think the freedom with which he treated cinema language is very inspirational, and it has influenced later generations of filmmakers immensely. Also his innovative use of type in titles is a work of art on its own.
What are your plans in the near future?
Finding a stable income is my priority. After that I hope I will have enough time and energy to combine new art projects with cool commissions. Oh yeah, and I’m starting to learn Dutch, finally!
Can you give one piece of advice to future students?
Don’t forget to rebel, but at the same time don’t disregard the opinions of others too harshly. I think it can be tricky to balance between pursuing your own path despite whatever authority figures or your peers say, and at the same time to recognise the value in feedback. But you can benefit tremendously from this tightrope walk.