We live in a visual age. Our pastimes are often dictated by those things we like to observe, in art galleries, at the cinema, at the zoo. In this surveillance-heavy era, our desire to watch often goes unchecked. Cameras dictate our day-to-day existence, we chase after images that fit our expectations and concepts of beauty, of nature, of gaze-worthiness. Our eyes are trained to seek out, capture, and fix on that which has meaning to us and could be potentially shared.
But are we critical enough of that which we look at and the position from which we look at it? We set definitions for the subject and the object, we break down the constructs of viewing in the hopes that we don’t fall into a pre-manipulated, voyeuristic trap. Men should not objectify women, tourists should seek the unbeaten path, no one should remain in the position of “the other”. It’s rude to stare.
Art has always offered the possibility of not taking these positions for granted. For as long as art and artists have existed, there have always also been the viewers. In this day and age, reflexivity has given way to self-reflexivity. Every voyeur is also a voyee. Through her art, Liselot van der Heijden explores these ever-evolving visual positionings. In her compact, spare, but multi-layered installations, the viewer always plays an integral part in the set-up and therefore, naturally, passivity is not an option.