‘It is rare to find a contemporary photographer who pushes the boundaries by offering a new and different experience to the audience. Femke Dekkers certainly achieves this,” Zuleika curator Anstice Oakeshott says.
Drawing upon nearly a decade of work, her new Open Space exhibition at the Woodstock gallery reveals her unique way of bringing together photography, painting and sculpture.
“I feel more like a painter or sculptor than a photographer”
Treating her studio as a stage set she builds up layers and shapes using paint, paper, wood and tape until her work gradually materialises on the studio walls, which she then photographs using analogue cameras for the painterly quality of their prints.
She uses the camera merely as a tool to play games with our powers of perception, slowly building up to the moment when the ‘click’ of her camera transforms her work into 2D, pushing the boundaries of our spatial understanding by using optical illusions and unique perspectives.
Born in The Netherlands where she still lives and works, since graduating in 2011 Femke has exhibited widely across Europe and her work is included in numerous international collections.
A decade on, her new exhibition at Zuleika celebrates her unique ‘way of seeing’ and invites you to travel between physical and imagined space.
So how does she do it? “I judge all actions via the lens, I move constantly between the set and the camera, between action and result,” the Dutch photographer replies.
“After the ‘click’ of the camera the process of searching, trying out and correcting continues. That’s why I chose to name some of my photos ‘stages’. It refers to the stages of the process, but also of the stage set that I create in front of my camera.“
“For me this process is very close to painting. Here in my studio it gets more and more painterly every year. I feel more like a painter or sculptor than a photographer.”
Open Space is also part of Photo Oxford, a timely coincidence considering this year’s theme is ‘Women and Photography, Ways of Seeing and Being Seen’, (Read about Photo Oxford here https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/check-out-photo-oxford-festival-which-kicks-off-today-celebrating-women-and-photography/)
So why the title Open Space? “For me Open Space refers to my studio space where anything can happen. I never have an exact plan of what I’m going to do or make, everything is always open from the start, but also during the process.
“Every action I judge via the lens, because the single eyed lens sees the sets that I create in my studio very differently to me looking with both eyes into this same space. I’m fascinated with what the camera sees in contrast to how I see things.
“For example, when I’m travelling on the train, or by bike, I see compositions come and go/ fall together and fall apart again, just from the random things we pass by in everyday life and I wanted to capture that in my studio – different ways of seeing.”
Zuleika Gallery, 6 Park Street, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1SP
Photo Oxford Festival runs from October 17-November 17. https://sites.google.com/view/photooxford2020/home