Visual artist and fine art photographer Daantje Bons doesn’t necessarily consider her work to be feminist. She just thinks of it as something that naturally occurs because the work she creates is often seen as provocative. Gender, and to be more specific gender identity, is something that particularly triggers her. Growing up she was very aware of how her gender played a role in how people looked at her. She was considered a tomboy, and didn’t fit in the stereotypical image of a “girl”. Getting older, she realized that now that her body started to change, people around her changed their behaviour towards her. As if she was, suddenly “worthy of their interest”. These events shaped her idea about gender and made her decide to create her own rules.
“I do like to use cultural feminine elements like colours or materials to speak my mind about gender, but there is also definitely masculine counter energy while creating some of my work”.
She is passionate about many things in life, but what defines her is the urge to live her life as freely as possible. To be, and create without boundaries.
“It’s not always fun, but it makes me feel in charge of who I am. As an artist, I am someone who loves to play with given ideas about ideals and stereotyped behaviours. I never know what will be the results when starting a project. The way I perceive an idea or project is always adventurous, my work is led by intuition, and therefore it is always exciting to start….
Anything can trigger me. A feeling, a moment, arousal, or a thought. Sometimes it is just an object that “speaks” to me. I am inspired many times during the day and because I feel no pressure to get inspired, it runs freely. This however can be different when I have a certain assignment. The pressure to perform can sometimes be a mood killer. So then I have to remind myself to let go of expectations”.
Besides working with many different techniques, photography is her favourite medium:
“There is something very honest about the final chosen outcome where everything comes together. All elements have to be just right to communicate a certain feeling or idea. When creating (self)portraits there is also a performance that takes place, not exactly knowing what the camera sees and the way I or someone I photograph likes to be seen. There is a certain tension that makes me feel aware and at the same time forces me to let go”.
Is there an underlying message in her work? She explains:
“The thing I love about visual communication is the ongoing conversation between the viewer and me. There are no rules when you look at my work. Some people find my work arousing, some find it offensive and others can identify with it. The message underneath is happening between the moment when my work is presented and when the viewer takes it in. I love for my work to be looked at twice, to not present any certainty or truth. For me it is all about an open mind, learning how to move freely, and at the same time an honest connection with different-minded people”.
In Daantje’s art, contrasts play a greater role than beauty in itself:
“Beauty is more something thatoccurs, It’s the contrast that makes it intriguing”.
She loves to use cultural aesthetic values in her work, but only when there is an interesting contrast to be found as well.
“For example, I use sweet and gentle aesthetics in my work as “bait” to then confront the viewer with a more provocative thought. The outcome can be humorous or absurd. I like to put complex subjects into perspective and make them more accessible”.
At the moment Daantje is looking for a new studio, where she can combine her workspace atelier with a gallery.
”It’s my dream to create an intriguing space where visitors can immerse themselves in my art and where I can enjoy exciting collaborations with other artists as well.
As for personal projects, she has several ideas on the shelf. One of those is a project about masculinity and the exploration of masculine sexuality and how this is being displayed.
“My main goal is to keep developing and exploring new artistic adventures. To challenge myself, I also need to get out of my comfort zone. Not only within my artwork but also in my personal life, as these are so intertwined. This makes it sometimes difficult for me to plan or visualize a certain future idea. What I would like to accomplish is to show my work to a broad audience, as I love to create a discussion about my work. That’s why I have a vision of exposing my work life-size on a building. Just to see what the effect would be….