Between green deals and ideals

Exhibition views Fotomuseum Den Haag

LOBBY offers a window into the European climate and environmental lobby. In an attempt to enhance the visibility and transparency of the world of lobbying, I asked 122 interest groups for permission to take a photograph of the lobbies of their Brussels-based offices. The project combines image and text and invites the viewer to navigate a labyrinth of lobbies ranging from companies, consultancies and trade associations to NGO’s, labour unions and religious groups. Who granted me access and who denied? LOBBY shows who seeks to influence policy-making in a time when climate change is permeating all domains of society.

Click here to read the introductory essay. 

Exhibition & book
2022 - 2023

This project was realised with the support of

Polite Fictions

Behind the public face of diplomatic gifts 

Throughout history, the exchange of gifts has played a central role in the conduct of international relations. While the rules, traditions and culture of gifting evolve, it remains a universal ritual that often reveals deeper truths about what it means to be human.

Polite Fictions examines this gifting ritual in the diplomatic field, where gifts once had the power to initiate negotiations, ease tensions or send subtle messages. What role do gifts play in fostering international relations today? What messages do they carry? And what can they tell us about the relationship between two countries?

Intending to research the meaning and significance of diplomatic gifts, my camera was denied access by the authorities. The government of my home country the Netherlands and the European Commission refused me permission to take photographs, as such transparency has the potential to harm bilateral relations. Only in carefully controlled settings is it possible to see, photograph and interpret diplomatic gifts.

In contrasting that which is seen in the public eye and that which happens behind the scenes, I created new representations of the gifts and their fate. Stored away and concealed, they underline both the prudence and practicality of European diplomacy. Polite Fictions uncovers the paradoxes of diplomatic gift exchange and portrays a system of conflict avoidance and securing interests.


Exhibition views Nederlands Fotomuseum, Arti et Amicitiae and Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

Mixed media: photographs, documents and drawings
6:24 min video

Click here to read the author’s note. 

Exhibition & book
2020 - 2021

The best light is no light at all

Residency exhibition at Berlinskej Model in Prague

‘The best light is no light at all’ is a phrase taken from a luxury freeport’s advertising brochure highlighting total darkness as the best way to store fine art. Freeports lack light in various other ways too, however.

Luxury freeports are storage facilities for high value goods located in free trade zones. Their attractions are similar to those offered by offshore financial centers: security and confidentiality, not much scrutiny, the ability for owners to hide behind nominees and an array of tax advantages.

If you ship a work of art to a freeport, you don’t ship it to another country, you ship it to a space in between where it technically stays in transit. Therefore a number of regulatory mechanisms don’t apply, such as certain taxations. Investors store art at a freeport to let it sit there for a number of years accumulating value while benefitting from the deferral of duties and taxes. They are not investing in art as a social good, but as an asset.
Proponents argue that freeports are useful to simplify commercial operations, attract investment and promote trade. Critics highlight the lack of transparency, risks of illicit practices, and the increase in investment-driven speculation while the art remains unseen.

The project explores several themes. On the one hand, it aims to raise questions about the commodification of art and the value we assign to works of art. On the other, the project seeks to shed light on the offshore economy against a backdrop of revelations and global discussions on tax avoidance and, ultimately, the mechanisms of inequality.

During my residency in Prague, I used my studio as a fictional freeport, letting both my research and imagination guide me into creating glimpses of this no man’s land.