dislocate

This is This and This is This

Hey!

Happy New Year.

Here are some things:

This is some snow. This is a book at the presses. These are the first dummy tests for the "dislocate" books. This is a good whiskey (after having a few). This is some more work done on the "yakuza" solo exhibit in april. And these are flowers for my mother.

....and there's much more to come.

2013 is going to be a good year, I'm sure of it. For all of us... it has to be. My best wishes to each and every one of you... and see you soon.

a

Dislocate, a First Chapter: Tokyo/Brother

As you know by now, Dislocate has been playing around in my head for several years. I've always had a feeling about it, but I could never put my finger on it, figure out what it was about, or even if it would ever be or become a project. A while ago I wrote that it was time to really think this one through, that it needed the airplane treatment so to speak... And yes, I'm happy to say that it now feels like I've finally found what dislocate is about. I know, it sounds weird to talk about projects this way, but it really works this way for me: something starts, i see something, hear something, a vague feeling, an itch, it comes into my mind... and at some point I start scratching. I realize I want to get it out, but to do that I must first find what it actually is and define it. More often than not it remains a vague feeling for a long long time (in this case, 4 years)... hopefully at some point becoming clear.

dislocate | tokyo

Once the feeling acknowledged and defined, I must decide if it is worth pursuing, worth following up on, worth investing my energy into... worth trying to tell the story and worth making it happen. A lot plays in my head at this stage: will I be able to cope, will it be long term or short term, how much will it cost, will I be able to make money, will I be able to grow as an artist, will my family understand, will others believe in it too....

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So goes the story of Dislocate: for a long time I had the feeling of being homesick for no reason. Nothing bad, nothing shocking, but an itch nonetheless. After a while I started paying attention to it and this feeling always seemed to come pretty randomly, strangely not related to any place or time or travel. I found this very weird - for example, I'd sometimes get homesick being at home, and this I didn't (and still don't) understand. Given my family that I love dearly, I should have completely no reason for this.

So... long story short, I've decided this is interesting enough to pursue... and now a part of me is focused on identifying my "homesick moments" and trying to visualize this through images, and write down the story. It feels like a real journey I'm undertaking, because, I guess, if I feel homesick at home, there must be some other place I do feel at home, right?

dislocate | tokyo

So I'm going to visit places until I find my true home. Does this mean I'll be visiting the places I used to live, Saudi Arabia and Australia, or the place I live now, Belgium? I don't know, maybe... but I think it would be a testimony to a very limited definition of "place": just geographical.

Places more often are related to people I am close to or connect to: a place as "with a person", wherever physical that place might be or might change over time. I know this sounds kind of abstract, but at this point it seems like the best definition I can come up with to describe the quest of finding where one feels one really belongs.

And I know maybe most people do have the feeling they belong... but surprisingly, many people I talked to about this over the last months, expressed a strong feeling of recognition and surprised me by saying they had actually felt this way for a long time and never felt they could talk about it. Sometimes this crystallized into the feeling of not finding a soul mate, and other times it was expressed in the most literal sense, an immigrant who has no connection to his home country anymore, yet at the same time is fighting to find a home in the new country he is (sometimes not very) welcomed into.

So where is my home? Where is my land? Where is my place?? Who is my place? What sets my mind at ease? Who sets my mind at ease? Where can I belong? How can I find out?

I'm going to explore all this. Going to document all I come across that is related to this. Hard, because I cannot easily "summon" or predict or even plan that feeling of homelessness setting in, just to explore it. It's really hard and often pretty painful. It comes and goes quickly at times, but sometimes can also last for days, completely paralyzing me.

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Sometimes little things make me feel at home, like for some reason flowers do. Other things on the contrary make me feel away from home, alone, tiny, wrapped in a blanket wanting to be somewhere else but at the same time knowing that being there is the catalyst for that feeling. Staying at a hotel room for me is always a very strong catalyst for such things, and I try to nourish that, make use of it as opposed to letting it paralyze me. Instead of fighting it, I'm now deliberately letting it. for better or for worse. you'll find images that feel like home, and images that feel like lost... and those images might be surprisingly different for everyone, or even surprisingly the same...

We'll see where the journey brings me, but I certainly can see now already that it'll be intense. First chapter is chosen: "Tokyo/Brother"

I hope the above made some sense... if not, don't get to upset... more to come soon... just wish me luck :-)

Have a great day today, a

I was a Dog (exhibit)

A quickie. I was recently asked to join a collective exhibit of former students at the photography academy of my home town. I was honored of course, but as I couldn't show work from the Yakuza project (someone else has got dibs on that biggie - I'll reveal very very soon :) I opted for an edit of images from my Mexico work in 2008.

Six images from a chapter titled "I was a Dog", part of Dislocate, the broader story in which I try to come to terms with my feelings of being uprooted.

The hardest part for me is always how to visualize the reality of the printed image in a given exhibit space, and depending on that, to try and make the best possible choices: which image edit, which size, to make an accompanying edition or not, and how to present the images. A good way for me to help visualize is that I not only make a simple sketch of the space and add the work into it, but that I also add silhouettes of people at the correct relative sizes. This never fails to amaze me, and always proves to be very helpful. Bigger is most definitely not always better.

For this exhibit, I had available 3 large panels of 2,5x3m (8x10ft) each, white, both sides usable.

 Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02
Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02

As you can see by the relative size to the silhouettes and the panels, in this case, the prints should be quite large, 44" high by almost 70" wide.

If I would've printed a test image at this size without having made the sketch first, I would've most certainly opted for much smaller prints, because, right now, drying on my table at home, they seem way too large:

I was a Dog - image of print
I was a Dog - image of print

Presentation-wise, I'm going for a "bare bones" approach, hanging the prints with two steel clamps directly on the paper, without any framing or glass or filter at all. Light prints, heavy content. I hope it'll work out.

How on earth I'm going to transport these beasts to the venue next week is a mystery to me.

And I've beent told that any exhibit is prone to last minute changes because of many unforeseen/practical circumstances... e.g. what if there are only two panels available instead of three, or they cannot be setup side by side...

So I might have to adapt on the spot.

Makes it all the more exciting me says. Fingers crossed.

Cheers,

anton

More exhibit info on the website of the Academy of Fine Arts of Hasselt (in Dutch).

Dislocate...

When i was in Mexico in the fall of 2008, during the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, i made the first image of was to become a life long project. I knew when i had made the image, that something had happened.

But i needed long talks with family and friends to be able to put my finger on what it meant exactly... David, being in Mexico as well, was the first i could talk to. At the time i had no clue how my developing visual language was tied into my own psyche, my own history and personality, and i really needed help contextualizing what i had just created and what it meant to me.

 dislocate_ANT6334

It was a hard time for me right after that image.

It felt like I had touched something very personal, and to be honest i never expected this to happen. I mean, while taking pictures? It got so bad, I'd find myself traveling, wandering the streets all over the world desperately trying to find myself, pointing my camera inwards along the way.

Only very slowly i learned to use this feeling as a positive rather than a constrictive force. But it was hard - and sometimes, when i get into that mood, it still is - to make that switch.

Yes, i'm a gemini :-/

 dislocate_ANT9957

I honestly never thought i would ever even have something resembling anything close to a life long project. It sounds so daunting. It's sounds so... pompous. So... something that fake artists declare, so... something so not like me, and certainly not something to tell anyone about.

But for some reason, it gives me a tremendous peace of mind and a kind of tranquility that i never expected.

I know i might never complete it, let alone publish it. Come to think of it, completion is not even relevant. But publication is, i guess... And i have a gut feeling that the chance of publishing this project will be directly related to how successful in general i will be as a photographer, because i'm sure i'll have to use up all my credit to get this one published.

I am, effectively, building up my entire career, just to have enough credit to make this happen.

No joke. That's how it feels. Sounds weird doesn't it.

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The project "dislocate" not only photography: it spills over to the rest of my life. My relationship with my family has always been exceptional, and now it is even better; I'm much more at ease in any friend or love relationship; when I'm working, I now work harder and more efficiently; and I love what I do more than before.

On the other hand, I'm also much more intolerant and nervous, and get angry more often, when confronted with things that waste time or energy... I'm much more focused, and realize more than before that we are all given only one time here on this world. And I feel I have to make it count.

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"dislocate" is not a singular project anymore. It's an assignment, it's commercial, it's art, it's my life, all at the same time. It does not distract me from any other work i do. It is just, simply, there.  I could best describe it as an energy, a mood that runs through me, all the time. It isn't even fixed to photography... Photography just happens to be the vehicle to express at this point in time.

"dislocate" forces me to open my mind as wide as i can. It makes me not judge others and listen instead, trying to understand. I honestly believe it might even make me a better person.

"dislocate" is my sense of my place in this world. Me feeling uprooted, my incessant looking for where i belong.

Where my land is.

Funny that feeling dislocated, something that used to unsettle me and make me nervous, now actually makes me feel calm instead.

I still get nervous sometimes though... but not too often anymore.

Actually, I think "dislocate" is never meant to be finished. It is just the thing that makes me feel that i am a photographer.

Hmm...

I hope it never goes away.