How do you shape your culture?
In his classes, Rik Dijkhuizen consciously seeks out collective discussions. This is how students keep themselves, each other and him on his toes. On an individual level, it creates the awareness as a creative to not only imagine what the world should look like, but also to be able to make a difference. This calls for a meta-position, for critical reflections, so that you as a maker can relate to culture. 'In this way, I want to prepare students for a world in which we have to deal with urgent issues more than ever.'
I think it is important to clearly and carefully position yourself as a maker, not only within the professional field but also within our society. In my classes, students are going through a development that, I hope, will take them to a place where they are enthusiastic and confident about their own work. This goes beyond just stylistics. It requires a critical view, reflection, formulating an opinion that matters and translating it into creative projects. I think it's important to really think carefully about the themes you want to cover and to be prepared to let your choices be guided by a concept rather than unsubstantiated preferences that have little expressiveness. For me, a creative project is and remains a means by which we communicate about things that are close to our hearts.
Practice what you preach
I also apply all this in my own work in which I reflect on more fluid forms of being, otherness and togetherness that transcend our normative world and in which we are expected to perform in a perfectionist way. One of the theories I refer to a lot is hydrofeminism where our bodies, landscapes and times are understood as "watery" and the lines between good and evil are slowly condensing. Water, therefore, plays an important role in my work. I am currently working on a performance film in which I become a water creature from the cult film series 'Creature of the Black Lagoon'. This low-fiction story exists in a place that's not quite of this world but feels oddly familiar. The parallel with how we ourselves are regularly misunderstood and seen as monsters as soon as we deviate from the norm is clearly noticeable. Previously, I did watery projects with pools, fountains, buttercups, synchronised swimming etc. In my work and also outside, I try to deal with the stigmas around well-being and the fear of being labelled as deficient because you feel overwhelmed, appear to be drowning or in other waters. I wish my students a world in which there is room for that: the reassurance that it's okay to show your vulnerable side more and not always have to be that perfect version of yourself.
Communities for individual development
I see my classes as an extension of my artistic practice. Together with my students, I consciously create temporary communities where togetherness, listening and motivation coexist. By initially seeking out the collective discussion about urgencies that play a role in the world, it becomes clear how you as a person and maker relate to our culture and the social issues that play a role in it. I invite students to work together, to think along, to exchange topics and to keep each other sharp. This gives room for further development and deepening of your own world of experience. As a teacher, I am quite radical in this regard: students are given a lot of freedom, my assignments are conscious, and now infamously open. After a collective kick-off with the group, the individual process follows in which I act as a sounding board and supervisor. Each student goes through their own process, leaving more room for surprises, forging new paths and exploring new shores. Of course, there are parameters for the completion of the course, but ultimately, I focus more on the creative research than the result.
Rik Dijkhuizen (34) is a guest lecturer in visual storytelling | concept development | positioning and works as a visual artist [Instagram] @rikdijkhuizen
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