Jeroen De Wandel (1980), photographer
How did you start with photography?
I’m a late bloomer. I have been experimenting with cameras for a long time, but I only started at the Ghent art academy at 30, in evening classes. I was never sure what to do with my life, but suddenly everything fell into place.
How did your work change since you first started?
A lot! I went from photography to mixed media: instead of photographing landscapes and people, I now mainly make collages, I sometimes use paint, experiment with other materials and also make objects.
What are you working on right now?
I’m fascinated by how memory works. Recent research showed we cannot trust our memories: they are constantly being processed and influenced by new events and experiences, as a foundation for future developments that might have an effect on our lives.
Memories are stored in different zones of the brain. The amygdala is responsible for processing emotional memories such as a relationship ending, war, etc. These memories are usually very well stored. Other memories get colored over time by, for example, by retelling them again and again, not knowing the exact facts over time. Our brain will fill in the gaps.
There's research nowadays about erasing those traumatizing memories, stored in the amygdala. We're closing in on planted memories, as you can see in movies like Total Recall. The collective memory, on the other hand, can be influenced by, for example, social media. Fake news is real!
What is your creative process?
I photograph a lot and I do it very intuitively. By now, I have a decent archive of analog and digital images: mainly my own work but also found material. Some images stay untouched for years, or return in other forms.
I process my pictures the way our memory works: I create new images by editing, tearing, re-photographing and experimenting with existing material. Is what we see an image of reality or is it fake news? Should photography as a medium represent reality or not?
Whose work is on your walls at home?
My walls are nearly empty, apart from a few weathered wooden panels with painted birds, a flea market find. No idea who made it.
Who or what inspires you?
It depends on the mood of the day. In general, I'm influenced by music, psychology, science and our society.
Lately, this has been my visual playlist: Edith Dekyndt, Wolfgang Tillmans, Katrien De Blauwer, Christian Boltanski, Tomas Saraceno, Roger Ballen, Joan Fontcuberta, Paul Klee, Batia Suter, Jaromir Novotny, Doina Kraal, Vincent Delbrouck, Quentin Lacombe, Gerhard Richter …
My auditory playlist: Murcof, Fire Orchestra, Laurent Garnier, Neil Young, Holly Herndon, The Comet Is Coming, Pink Floyd, 9T Antiope, Karen Willems, Felicia Atkinson, Amon Tobin, Stan Getz …
What do you look forward to in the future?
Evolve and experiment. Learn more about working with different materials, mixed media, video, sound …
In the near future, I hope to exhibit a lot, to find a publisher for two book dummies I have around my Amygdala project, and to work together with other artists.
What three words describe your work?
Resonance, energy, composition.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Work hard and never give up.