From time to time we ask users of The New Shopping Bag about their life. In light of our new art inspired collection ‘Untitled’, we’ve approached several fantastic artists to be part of this interview series. This edition we have the pleasure to have V&B on board. V&B is the multidisciplinary art duo comprised by Ellemieke Schoenmaker and Alex Jacobs. The colourful energy that exudes from their paintings, sculptures and installations, surely comes through in this interview.
Describe yourself in three words.
We are V&B.
Where are you now?
We are now in an interesting place in our lives, less depending on money from our practice. This is the mid-career era and it opens up new possibilities for the future. We still have the energy of the young and we have some experience of the aged. Time to make good use of this spirit.
We are part of a collective called Amber Solo, and Alex founded the Bcademie in 2015, an institute that coaches recently graduated artists and helps them navigate through the quicksand of the art world.
On the other hand it can be difficult in this modern day life to keep up with all social media, mortgage, our studios, school, collectives etc. More reason to focus on the future.
Tell us something about you and The New Shopping Bag
We have owned a few for more than 10 years now. We think it was Hidde van Schie who got Alex a small one for his birthday, a bright yellow and turquoise one. Alex used it as a daily bag for ever. So we guess we have ‘vintage’ New Shopping Bags! We even used one in one of our paintings.
What we like about it is that you can put your stuff and coat in it at an opening for example and tie the handles like a knot. This way you can put it in a corner somewhere without losing your stuff.
Tell us something about Susan.
Personally we don’t know Susan, but she would be a great candidate as a Bcademie guest teacher. How to get from an idea to an actual career/company must be an interesting time with happiness and frustration, luck and hard work, ups and downs.
In the end we used her bag so many times it did save on plastic bags, she did make a difference. Something we should all aspire to.
What ecological measures would you take if you ruled the world?
Ellemieke would educate everyone so that we all understand our decadency and the consequences of our behavior. With this understanding we would make better choices for the world.
If Alex ruled the world he would set up a 5 km wide solar farm all around the equator and distribute the energy to those who want/need it for free. He thinks nearly any harm can be undone with the energy of the sun.
But for now it’s just reducing the amount of energy we use, no Far World wine, a vegetarian diet and voting for the Party for the Animals because there should be more parties for animals.
How do you brighten up your existence?
A: My existence is brightened up by listening to Prince concerts, rehearsals and after shows. There are so many to be found on the internet, its a never ending source of great music. The other 10% I listen to the Duane Train and the Nickel and Dime show, both radioshows on WFMU.org. When I am working on a sculpture and we know it’s going to be great and the music is great I can work forever.
E: My day brightens up when I go running in the Kralingse forest.
What part does colour play in that process?
Colour is one of the most important parts of our life, all our work is about colour or more specific combinations of colour. We are visual artists working in sculpture, installation and painting. In plaster colours can be soft, in paint they can be hard. We love colour, also in our choice of fashion. Technicolour is the colour of our imagination.
What is you favorite ‘Untitled’ artwork? Or other favorite art (all time or recently)?
One of our pleasures in the studio is thinking of titles for artworks, we love titles. Untitled is boring. And giving titles is a way of giving direction to the thoughts of the viewer. A title is the perfect explanation or add-on of an artwork.
If there was ever an artwork we loved that is untitled it would be the 2009 film (Untitled) about the absurdity of contemporary art market. It is really funny to see how they nailed the relations within the artworld. We work a lot ourselves with the relations of us ‘the artist’ with our audience, the curator, the market, our work, the gallery etc.
Recent favorite artwork is a film called Liminals by Jeremy Shaw. We saw this video-artwork at the Venice biennial and we were mesmerized by it. This is one of those very few artworks that captures your attention and really sucks you in. You can’t really grasp what it is but there is also a deep unconscious understanding. Thank you Jeremy for making this work!
How does art influence you in your daily life?
As we are visual artists and an artist duo, we are always thinking of art. But not only from the creational point of view we also love art as an audience. We own a lot of works by others, either we traded them or bought them. Some are in storage, but we also have a lot of them in our house.
Art is all about going boldly where no one has gone before. This can be finding new ways of using paint to comprising total utopian worldviews.
Which music have you been listening to recently?
Ellemieke listens to 60’s and 70’s folk music but recently likes De Ambassade, a dutch new wave band. Pentangels, the Trees, Ariel Pink, Shocking Blue and Steeleye Spam are amongst her favorites.
Alex listens to Prince mostly but Bootsy Collins, Funkadelic, Larry Graham and all other funk and disco music.
What is your biggest loss?
A: I think there was never a real loss in my life. I could have done things differently. Maybe my biggest loss is when in 2010 I was a finalist in the miljoenenjacht show and I had a 50-50 chance of winning 1 million euro’s. I didn’t win and I have zero regrets but thinking of what we could have done with the money and what would have happened to our lives goes trough my mind sometimes. I did win 100.000 so the loss was easy to take.
Another thing I wonder about is what would happen if I had more determination in my solo career. But then again meeting Ellemieke and starting to work together was the best thing that could happen. So one guy’s loss is a couple’s gain.
E: I think losing my positive naivety. The older we get the more realist view we have on the world. But this realist view also makes you cynical and maybe lose hope.
What is your ultimate destination?
One of our ultimate destinations is the United States. We love all the beauty, the diversity and the wideness of nature there. We have been touring a lot of states combining with showing our work. Coming month we are in a museum show called CO/LAB IV in the Torrance Art Museum. After the Opening we’ll be touring a bit more. We are looking forward to this a lot.
Photography by Jan Bijl