Ahead of his latest exhibition, the Dutch photographer explains why the non-events of life offers truly exciting creative prospects
Amsterdam-based photographer Andre Thijssen takes the mundane and the ordinary, things the average viewer glosses over and barely sees in their periphery, and highlights the intriguing brilliance of it all. Images and short films by Thijssen will be shown in his new exhibition at the KK Outlet from his double publication, Fringe Phenomena One & Two, which went on sale last year. We spoke to the photographer ahead of the opening to find out more about his books and why learning to see the world through the eyes of child keeps him inspired...
Dazed Digital: What inspired you to start taking photographs?
Andre Thijssen: In the early years of my career I used to draw and paint as well but discovered the camera as the best tool to express my thoughts.
DD: Tell us more about the new exhibition at the KK Outlet...
Andre Thijssen: I've worked together with Erik Kessels on several projects for his clients in the past and was given a lot of freedom in how to approach communication, the conceptual and visual way. After having heard about the desire from many it was finally Erik who kind of pressed me that it was high time a book of my work should be published. Of all people he would be the right person to edit such a publication having me take a healthy step back after delivering him a bunch of photographs. That turned into Fringe Phenomena 1, a selection of mainly anecdotal, odd situations. I used the title Fringe Phenomena for years as it had always covered the work rather well.
The Netherlands Photo Museum in Rotterdam invited me soon after this edit was made for a major exhibition. I selected more work for that show than was to be find in Erik's edit alone and the publisher wanted to have the added photographs published as well. Instead of mixing it all in one book I chose a separate book for those works not only because I was very happy with Erik's edit as a complete body of work but there was a slight difference in atmosphere in my own selection. Fringe Phenomena 2 is more poetic, obscure even sometimes and still, the DNA of both publications is obviously the same. People sometimes call the work in book 2 more abstract but I don't agree on that, I see realistic situations in book 2 that only take a bit more time to have them revealed. The double publication was earlier this year chosen among one of the 100 best photo books published worldwide in 2010. Due to the more limited space a selection of the smaller sized prints from the Rotterdam show, is now to be seen at KK Outlet.
DD: What processes did you go through when curating your work for the exhibition?
Andre Thijssen: How to give an impression of the way I see the world when moving from A to B.
DD: Some of the work featured will be films, what creative opportunities does film give that photography can't/doesn't?
Andre Thijssen: In my case the short films are almost moving photographs including sound, no stories with a beginning, middle and end. I find the same situations suited for films as I see for my photographs with the difference that in between 2 shots something interesting is happening that better be captured with a film camera.
DD: What other projects are you currently working on?
Andre Thijssen: I am organizing and editing the results of my journeys of the last 12 months and possibly curate another travelling exhibition. Some of the filmed results from those journeys can already be seen at Fringe Phenomena. My autonomously made work has always also functioned within my commissioned work for magazines, newspapers, occasionally corporate work and the music industry for clients worldwide. If ever possible I try to apply my imagery associatively in commissioned work showing subject matters from unexpected, hopefully refreshing angles. The function of such images at first glance is to intrigue...and when the coin has dropped making you think differently about the situations dealt with than before.
DD: Which photographers have influenced or inspired you and why?
Andre Thijssen: I see work of other artists that I like a lot but if you asked me about influence or inspiration, I feel more inspired by -at first- ungraspable situations, call them mysteries on my path in daily life than by the work of other artists. As a self taught artist I am lucky to have never been told how to, or not to record these events. The first time I saw the inside of an art school was as a teacher. Still not to teach students how to do things but to stimulate the eye that is already there. My self taught situation has given me an enormous freedom in how to deal with imagery and communication.
No greater inspiration than to be confronted with the wonder of mysteries, like an unspoiled child almost, that most people learned to forget, ignore or seem to be totally unaware of. I see the unintended flabbergasting ordinary, the so called non-events often as highly exciting. One of the reasons making it worth jumping out of bed every new day.
Andre Thijssen, 'Peripheral Visions', KK Outlet, Hoxton Square, London, October 7 - 29, 2011