Grolsch Unseen Residency: Thomas Kuijpers

by Unseen December 11 2017

Oh Yeah, 2016 © Thomas Kuijpers & Julio Parente, HOBRA Residency

The Grolsch Unseen Residency

With a common commitment to innovation and creativity – and a shared ambition to challenge conventions – Grolsch and Unseen joined forces in 2016 to launch an exciting new platform for emerging photographic talent.

The Grolsch Unseen Residency annually grants one artist with a scholarship to create new work relating to an unfamiliar urban context; that of a chosen European city. The next edition of the residency will take place in Stockholm, where the winner is supported by a local network of industry professionals, ranging from curators, gallerists and editors to publishers and fellow artists. The resulting project, with its unconventional approach to urban space, will be exhibited at the 2018 edition of Unseen Amsterdam.

Shortlisted Artist: Thomas Kuijpers

Driven by clear socio-political concerns, Thomas Kuijpers (b. 1985, the Netherlands) examines the portrayal of current events in popular media sources, working across a wide range of different media. Kuijpers frequently makes use of archival material in his practice, with recent projects focusing on ISIS and the threat of international terror, as well as populist movements both at home and abroad. Works from the Bad Trip series – the production of which saw the artist immerse himself in a number of right-wing online forums – were shown at Unseen Amsterdam by LhGWR.

Tube, 2017 (c) Thomas Kuijpers_LhGWR..jpg

Tube, 2017 © Thomas Kuijpers/LhGWR at Unseen Amsterdam 2017

In his project proposal, Thomas Kuijpers addresses the idea of equality in a Swedish context, questioning the extent to which this utopian principle might be applied to him during a temporary stay in Stockholm:

“Whereas the rest of Europe is more concerned with contemplating dystopia, Sweden and its neighbouring countries have never lost sight of utopia. Progressive law-making based on science and social studies leads to experimental – though often successful – advanced social structures.

“I’m very interested in the way governmental involvement affects the residents of a major city, and how people feel about it. I recently interviewed some Swedish residents, and the tendency overall is good, but sometimes the friction between these well-meant ideals and daily life becomes unbalanced. This friction will be the focus of my research.

“I will start by asking myself if this drive for ‘equality’ will also be applied to me, as a temporary resident. Can I, as an immigrant, become equal to the Swedes around me?

“By interviewing local residents, lawmakers, other immigrants and sociologists, I’ll try to gather ingredients to use in visualising this abstract topic. I’m quite unsure about the visual outcome, but I’ve worked before with certain abstract points of departure, trying to capture an invisible social structure. Usually this ends in a range of small experiments that somehow touch upon the notion of the topic, but never fully grasp it: as it goes in real life.”