Seppe Claerbout

resident Bosacademie

Seppe Claerbout will have a residency in the Theaterzaal in May and will show his own work during 10 Years of Het Bos on May 22.

We asked Seppe some questions:

How has your education helped you in your career?

School helped me to just create and believe in myself. Though I am convinced people could successfully aim for an artistic career without the help of an institution, for me it was a necessary part of my journey. Without my teachers and other students, I would never do what I’m doing. You get an atelier and regular feedback, but above all you are granted time, time to focus on your practice.

I also believe this education will never stop; it’ll just continue through my hopefully joyous career. You learn from other artists, also from people who happen to be (un)interested in what you are doing.

For me, the moment an artist stops investing in their education, their art tends to become blank. I don’t mean a financial investment, rather an intellectual or emotional interest in the context inside and outside of yourself and your work.

How does your work comment on current social or political issues?

Apart from commenting on these issues, I feel like I am still discovering what these issues are for me as an artist and for me as a person. I am constantly thinking about the difference between art and myself. Is it about me or do I want to touch a broader context linked with but outside of myself?

I have my own experiences, which undoubtedly influence my work and will keep on doing this. I just haven’t figured out yet whether my work could function as a solution for these experiences. I struggle with his, as I feel like nowadays art should have a clear societal value. I feel like discussing topics such as identity, expression, exclusion, and self-admiration with other people helps me to figure out what this value could be for my work. Maybe people should be able to emotionally connect to the work, despite it being about me, to further reflect about themselves and their experience. This too seems to me a question that may always remain unanswered, though is relevant to keep asking yourself and others.

What motivates you to create?

For me, this motivation should intrinsically be found in yourself. I feel an urge to create something, I also feel this in people around me. Of course, school and projects could help to motivate, but I think as soon as you find this inner urge, it doesn’t go away. You’re constantly thinking about it.

I find this idea of the artistic urge so fascinating. At the same time, it is a struggle to deal with it. You have dreams and goals, though it is not easy to answer them in real life. Regardless of what people may think, I feel like choosing to be an artist is not the easy way. It is a way of living where you constantly question yourself and society. It is a life where you run away from expectation, you let go of comfort. It is a risk you take.

At the same time, I find it hard to call myself an artist. Apart from all the serious stuff, I am just having fun with all the things I’m doing. As soon as I lose the fun, I lose the interest. I must play and discover constantly, in order to create something. For me, it is also closely linked to my expression and identity as a person. The more I dare in my work, the more I feel comfortable with it in my daily life.