The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Interview with Chrystl Rijkeboer

Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some backround info, etc?

A)I am Chrystl Rijkeboer, 47 years. Living and working in Haarlem the Netherlands.
Started my 'working carrière' as a photographic assistent. Later I did the training for schoolteacher, but this was not 'my profession'. I worked as a social worker in a fosterhome (children's home) for many years. At last I decided to do what I really wanted and I went to the art academy.

Q) How did you get started making art?

A)I always loved to create things.

Q) How would you describe your art?

A)The last years I almost work exclusively with human hair.
The work is figurative and recognizable but shape and proportions are not necessarily correct or ‘beautiful’, what matter is the sensation they evoke. You can always view my work in two ways: kind, pleasant and innocent, or frightening, condemning and guilty. The objects and installation I create are divided between soft, touchable and an anxious distance.
To provoke in an ironic way is an important expression resource. By the direct, literal approach of subjects I can surprise, astonish and stimulate the viewer.
I work in various media; sculptures and installations (made of human hair), photos and video works.

Q) Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

A)The theme of the work is astonishment about human life.
Key point is the life cycle: from birth and 'innocence’, till development to maturity and 'guilt'. Into my work I emphasize the concepts influencing and consciousness raising.
The reason I work with human hair, is that hair has symbolic significance: beauty, strength, health, attraction, etc. The moment it is separated from the human all these factors turn around, hair is considered dirty, unsavory and dead. Human hair is a hyper-individual material, which I felt or spin into yarn, the material for my work.

My greatest source of inspiration is everyday life; my personal point of view compared to the public opinion, represented by television, the news and the newspapers, to put it briefly, how it is interpreted and manipulated by the media.
The 3 dimensional work, knitted or crochet of human hair is mostly about the feeling of impotence. I identify more with the 'victim' instead of the 'offender'.
Within my work I try to overcome social discords. I mix races, colors, religions, ages and social standards. By this I create an average, equal human being. Working with human hair is originated from the knowledge that each hair contains the DNA of an individual person, which I manipulate very literally in my own, personal way.

Q) What are you working on now?

A)I'm totally occupied by logistic matters at the moment. Making transportation boxes for my work, writing plans, interviews, statements etcetera. I have a lot of exhibitions abroad on hand, so that keeps me busy at the moment. I made a video of my Burka last week and I have to get started editing it.
And I keep spin every day, so when I have time again I can start work whenever I want. I always need spinned (human) hair as a basic material, so it is good to have some in stock.

Q)Are there some web sites that you would like to recommend? Artists, art communities.

A)Just look at my web site, under button links.

Q) What programs / materials / tools do you use to create your pieces?

A)Human hair, spinning wheel, knitting, crocheting and felting, video and photography are the "materials" for this moment. But I use whatever I need to create work. I can weld as well.
I work in various media; sculptures and installations (made of human hair), photos and video works.

Q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

A)I myself feel as an up-coming artist. The advice I give myself is: stick to your ideas, stay 'pigheaded' and believe in yourself.

Q) What is your personal definition of life and art and everything else in between?

A)Life is my inspiration source.

Q) Do you think that art is a univeral language - transcending all the different languages, cultures and religions etc?


Q) What are your artistic influences?

A)Influence is always a big word. I can be touched by work. I do like art that confronts and is direct. I do like Brit-art: Sarah Lucas, Tracy Emin, Marc Quin, Damien Hirst and many others. And I'm a big fan of Kiki Smith.

Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)Unbelief the work is made of human hair.
People always want to 'pet' the work, but when they realize it is made of human hair they get a bit scared. Reactions are ambiguous, jus like the work.

Q) Do you have many connections in the underground scene?

A)No, but I run a window-gallery at my house, which give me a lot of contacts, national and international. I invite artists to show work every month. Take a look at:

Q) Tell us about a recent dream you had.

A)I never know what I dream, I wake up and have forgotten everything. Just start the brand new day.

Q) What is freedom to you as an artist?

A)Personal artistic freedom:
To create whatever you want and about what subjects you like.
To make the work I want and to show where ever I want. I don't have a gallery that will arrange and decide these things for me.
Artist freedom in general:
To make work of social critic issues and be able to show them in public. No censure!

Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

A)Love is the Devil, Stolen Identity, Burka and Avatar are my best works.

Q) Last Books you read?

A)Until I find you, from John Irving.

Q) Last records you bought?

A)That must be years ago, all my music runs through my computer.

Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

A)Kiki Smith and various British artists.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…Links

A)Take a look at my web site:


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