RENEE VAN DER SIJDE
OUR NEXT FORM OVER FUNCTION ARTIST
IS RENEE VAN DER SIJDE, A TALENTED
PHOTOGRAPHER WHO ENJOYS CAPTURING THE HUMAN BODY AND ITS EMOTIONS THROUGH BLACK AND WHITE PICTURES
NUDITY, VULNERABILITY AND BEAUTY ARE RECURRING ELEMENTS IN HER WORK, AS SHE USES NATURAL LIGHT TO EMPHASISE THE CONTOURS AND CONTRASTS OF HER MODELS
IN HER FORM OVER FUNCTION EXHIBITION, CALLED 'LIKE ME' RENEE DISPLAYS A NEW SERIES THAT TELL A STORY ABOUT SELF-ACCEPTANCE, DESIRE, AND CONNECTION.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HER PROCESS.
- Can you tell us about how you got into the arts growing up and what exactly attracted you to photography in general?
I've always been drawn to the natural contours of the human body - especially the contrasts and details within photography.
I enjoy being able to see things from close up so I can really 'feel’ the image: being able to stare at and take in an image, to really take your time with it in order to see what it is that’s being portrayed.
- What were some of the key moments and decisions for you along the way to where you are now as a photographer?
I believe the people around me played a very important roll in my development towards becoming a photographer - they motivated me to focus more on my photography professionally. Having friends and family around you that are supportive of your career is obviously super helpful.
Additionally, I think moving to Amsterdam has had a very positive impact. I've been able to meet a lot of new, creative and open-minded people that have inspired me along the way to continue with what I'm doing.
- How would you describe your style now and how has it developed over the years?
I'm a self-taught photographer and started out doing business shoots and travel photography, but over the last 2 years I've started to develop my own style. You’ll also notice that almost all of my work is shot in black and white - it creates a calm that I enjoy. It also allows me to really play with contrasts and lines.
I noticed that during those business shoots I would always be drawn towards the more 'arty' shots - the ones that would be a bit out of focus, or where the model would have an unintentionally mysterious look. I eventually asked a friend of mine if I could practice nude photography with her as a model.
She has since become somewhat of a muse to me, and whenever I have new ideas I will ask her to model for me. You'll see her a lot on my website.
When I started out shooting nude art, I used to use 'harder' lighting that in turn created relatively deep shadows. More recently, however, my work has become a bit softer in that sense, and more thought goes into the narrative behind the pictures: I really try to create an intimacy between the viewer and the model.
The eventual choice to shift my focus on nude art felt really liberating, even though there is still somewhat of a taboo around nude photography and sharing the imagery in public spaces - such as the controversial limitations on social media of showing the female nipple. I actually find myself being motivated by these limitations to keep doing what I’m doing. The human body is beautiful and artful in so many different ways, and that is something that I think should be celebrated and enjoyed.
- Can you give us some insight as to how a nude shoot differs from a regular shoot, in terms of your creative approach and your communication with the model?
The most important thing is that my model feels completely comfortable at all times. Beforehand I will fully explain my work method and then I will ask them which body part they are most proud of - which would then be where we start. In general it’s a good idea to know beforehand what the model is and is not comfortable with, so you can work smoothly and prevent unexpected or unintentional tension. This can usually be achieved by getting to know one another beforehand in a more casual manner.
During the shoot I will continuously show the model the results and ask them whether they like where it's going - from there we follow that direction by focusing on the positives. It's very important to me that the model likes the shots, because it cultivates self-confidence during the shoot which allows us to get into a flow together. Before the shoot I will make and communicate a general plan, but once the model and I are totally in-sync with each other that plan can often be completely relinquished into improvisation.
Clear communication and agreements are key when it comes to sharing the end-results online. Being photographed in the nude is one thing, but having your picture exposed to the world is another. That's why I'm always super grateful for the trust I receive from my models with regard to capturing and handling their pictures.
- Your exhibition at FORM is called ‘Like Me’ and consists solely of self-portraits. How did you come up with the concept and what can you tell us about the narrative?
I thought of the phrase 'Like Me' because it can be interpreted in a few different ways. The concept is a social commentary on the general desire we have developed as human beings to being liked. The show portrays elements of a physical body - which is a more obvious source of insecurities - but wanting to be liked applies just as much to our mental state and our personalities. I struggle with this myself, in the sense that I there are parts of my internal being that are undeniable and I therefore have to learn to accept. This is also to say that you have to like yourself in order to be liked by others.
The phrase 'like me' also emphasises that this idea applies to all of us: you, the viewer, are like me in some way or form in that we all have to come to terms with certain parts of ourselves and at the same time strive towards an inner and outer beauty. With these pictures, I tried to capture a relatable vulnerability that can lead to connection and maybe even healing.
- What are some of your favourite and/or most inspiring artists?
Inspiration from Instagram
Anne-Sophie Guillet, Noa The photographer, pornceptual, Another Filthy Magazine, Vice, and most lingerie brands.
- What are some of your favourite museums and/or exhibitions?
Boros Bunker (Berlin)
Helmut Newton Foundation (Berlin)
Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin)
- Where can people see and/or purchase your art?
Op m'n website https://reneevandersijde.nl
- Do you have any other upcoming projects or collections that you want people to know about?
A friend and fellow artist is working on another exposition coming up this May and has asked me and other photographers to join. The concept is still being developed but essentially we want to 'post' pictures offline that we aren't allowed to post on Instagram - so you can expect lots of nudes!
YOU CAN ENJOY RENEE'S ART IN OUR STUDIO DURING ALL OF MARCH, APRIL AND MAY.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HER WORK, VISIT WWW.RENEEVANDERSIJDE.NL OR CHECK OUT HER INSTAGRAM PAGE @RENEEVANDERSIJDE