Tell us about the "Garbage Collector". In which circumstances were you in China, and what was the inspiration for the picture?
was commissioned by FOAM magazine to make a series about Shanghai. I
got lost one day with my intern Guus on the bicycles we bought and we
ended up by a river that runs through the city. Suddenly, we saw this
man in a boat passing by with a fishing net. We followed him for a bit
and saw he was collecting the trash from the river with this net. It was
beautiful to me: imagine someone searching the Seine on his small boat
trying to make this world a better place. In my city, people do this
with big boats and mechanical grabbing arms.In the picture
you took at Prospect Park, you turn yourself into a caveman, covered in
mud, surrounded by lush green vegetation - and outside the frame, by
skyscrapers. The log cabin motif, life in the woods, a “back to nature”
state are recurrent in your work.
Of course it is. For me, this
is something I struggle with all the time. I want peace and quiet to
think, rethink and work. But I need the city, television and too many
people to get annoyed and be able to respond to all this madness. I try
to balance my path through life with my work, and it shows in my work.
In Prospect Park, I am in this river washing myself. There was a time
not so long ago when this was common practice, and it still is in a lot
of places. What I wanted to achieve in this, and the series I made in
New York, is to show where nature is in the city and how we have changed
our connection to it. It was part of us, now it's something we go and
look at, like an attraction. In this particular park, it was so bad
there was a fence next to the path I walked. I had to climb a fence to
get there.You have worked in China, Slovakia, France, the
United States… territories where you export your fantasies and create
amusing scenes. Looking at them, Shanghai and New York no longer seem
quite as intimidating. Were they welcoming playgrounds?
was chaos at its best. The nicest and most interesting city I have ever
been in. A mix of New York and Bangkok, but so much better. New York
sucked as a photographer - nothing unexpected happened, it was like
painting by numbers. I was helped a lot by people there to make it
happen, which was really nice, but it took a lot of effort and sweat. You
often give your projects amusing and unusually long titles - almost
sentences. Is it a way for your to address the beholder as if telling a
I want all of my pictures to tell a story by themselves.
Every picture needs to have a storyline. I don’t want to tell the same
story twice, so my work is quite diverse. I do focus on certain themes
to organise them into a series, but consider this as one work. I think
the titles help as a guideline to get into a chain of thought.
I should also add that my titles are getting longer and longer because my urge to write is becoming stronger.
Limited edition, numbered and signed.