As an artist you can’t afford to just make beautiful things .. you are almost obliged to show some activism in what you do as well.
There has to be some statement in art. Nowadays I think there’s no other way. With my work I am able to make a statement. So I feel obligated to do so. With everything that’s going on at the moment, it’s inevitable.
Pim Vlug creates, designs, shocks and rebels. His art is polymorphic, intrusive, inappropriate, euphoric, seductive and sometimes hilarious.
From an early age Pim is a creator. It starts in primary school, fascinated by sex, he creates his first “porn cartoon”. It’s is passed on in the classroom and is finally confiscated, and ends up in the teacher’s lounge. He’s then nine years old. When he gets older he gets more and more fascinated by fetish. Does this have something to do with the fact that his parents were scuba divers?
He remembers it well:
Those tight-fitting neoprene suits with hoods. Stiff, tight suits that you could only put on with talcum powder. I remember looking at these hanging to dry in the bathroom when I was a child. The look of it, the smell.. It surely had an effect on me.
During his audiovisual design study at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, he creates his first fetish performance for Paradiso, together with his partner in art and crime; Peter Hertog. They now are the Art Brothers.
His career really takes flight when they create a play which is based on the great fire of Rome and is to be regarded as an indictment against the construction of the pretentious and expensive building of De Stopera (The new Amsterdam Opera house and City Hall opened in 1986). For this occasion they team up with colleague artist Marian Theunissen as the Three Nero’s.
But despite the permission of the municipality of Amsterdam, the play will not be performed there. It is misinterpreted by the hard core of the squatters scene, and to prevent an escalation, they decide to cancel it. They decide to take the play on tour to several theatres. And then, it’s picked up by the media and appears on television. Last but not least, the performance is exhibited in the museum Boymans van Beuningen. However, despite the fact that his work is now exhibited in the museum, he only receives only a travel allowance in return. It’s hard to make a living out of art is what he concludes.
Because he has to find a way to make a living, he starts to focus on set design. He becomes responsible for the decoration of music center Vredenburg, but he is also asked to design the decors for the presentation of Het Gouden Kalf. (the Grand Prix of Dutch Film) and De Nacht van de Poëzie (where up-and-coming talent and big names from Dutch-language poetry alternate with musical and theatrical entr’actes). The often huge set pieces are designed , but also hand painted by him.
He spends a lot of time a lot in the nightlife due to his work, and privately he also enjoys the alternative and fetish scene to the fullest. But besides the “rock and roll” existence as an artist, Pim is also a family man; he is a father and husband. He therefore starts to avoid the uncertain and sometimes even somewhat unsafe world of the nightlife a bit, even though the dark side keeps luring. However, he continues to work as a DJ at fetish and Gothic events and in the renowned club Korsakoff in Amsterdam, just for fun. And at the smaller fetish party’s such as Dominatrix.
At that time there was much more of a spillover between the alternative (Gothic) scene and the fetish scene. I was a bit in between those two. Unfortunately a lot of the smaller parties are gone now. Politics also played an important role in the commercializing of the fetish scene. Everything became more and more restricted and rules were made up for everything. The scene disappeared from the dark locations of the old city center in Amsterdam, and moved to large, massive locations in the suburbs. There was a creative drain as a result of it.
In his personal life things are changing too. Due to the expansion of his family, he eventually leaves his old characteristic canal house with studio in Amsterdam. It will be a new beginning, with two young kids, away from Amsterdam. However, artistry continues as usual and new ideas are formed and new forms of work are found. The creative process never stops.
Through his work as a set dresser and painter for festivals, he is asked to make wall paintings in well-known cafes and clubs in Amsterdam, such as famous gay venues club It, and Havana. after which the duo is asked to design grand cafe Dantzig in the City Hall of Amsterdam. And he is also popular abroad. He exhibits his paintings at, among others, Moulin Rouge and Nuit Demonia (France), Rubber Ball (England), and Fetish Evolution (Germany) During that time he starts working as a visual artist for Wasteland party.
I’ve wanted to get into video for years, and this was my chance. First thing I did was creating video images for a performance with Peter Diablow. Wasteland was so struck with these visuals, that they asked me to stay, and I never left. To this day I am responsible for the gigantic video walls, where my visuals can be seen all night during the party. I work according to the theme of the party , but like to push the boundaries. As a video artist I use the alias: Run Paint Run.
It is great fun to work with all kinds of different people. Different genders, looks, and personalities. And it’s nice to be able to magnify all kinds of artistry, and of course all kinds of fetishes, and alternative forms of sexuality.
But that’s not all. for years he has been designing the parade boats for the gay pride. Like, for example, a boat for the GGD Amsterdam, with famous drag queen Coco Coquette , dressed in a giant dress decorated with the city coat of arms of Amsterdam.
With all the boats I design for this purpose, you have to take into account the bridges in Amsterdam. This leads to ingenious constructions . After all, all boats must be able to safely pass under the bridges. So the dress was completely collapsible.
Pim also works as a light artist under the alias Run Paint Run. His designs (large monumental works of art where a light source is the important starting point) are exposed at different festivals. He has been asked no less than 5 times to design and cooperate for the Amsterdam light festival. At this annually festival, eleven different international artists illuminate the city of Amsterdam with various works of art. Pim is one of the most frequent asked artists to design for the festival.
Unfortunately, despite all the charm that the city has, Amsterdam is not a safe city. The freedom we think we have is an illusion. An awful lot still needs to be done in the field of freedom and equality for the different genders and orientations. Terrible things are happening in Amsterdam. There is a lot of violence against minorities, such as trans people.
I have a 12-year-old daughter of my own who is transgender, so I am personally concerned, deeply concerned, about her safety. I believe we need to educate people. We need to offer clear information to parents, and help teachers, so that they can offer the right education in school. But we need to educate and inform the police too, and many other (government) authorities.
I work as a volunteer at Go Transvisie, a foundation that represents the interests of transgenders (https://transvisie.nl/). I wish there was more that I could do. That’s also the reason that I need to make a difference through my art. Show people that the world is complex but accessible to everyone. That there is more possible than you think. That it’s okay to be different. In the end, we are all different, and yet the same. You have to cherish those differences. I like to show those differences and similarities through my art.
Pim is not out to shock or overwhelm people. He creates art from integrity and openly opposes false shame and fake emotions. Passion and conviction is important to him. In the end he’s nothing more than an idealist. With the heart of an activist. Pim is open to new artistic collaborations and challenges.