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I grew up in the south of the Netherlands. From a very young age, I have been fascinated by materials and the sensations they gave me. For example, during dinner, I would secretly be rolling tiny balls of mashed potatos between my fingers. My parents used to say: “Monique, don’t play with food!” Or when it was raining, I asked permission to jump in the mud. Then I’d dream of lying in a bath filled with butter. I have always had this very physical, tactile way of observing things.
I studied at the Eindhoven Design Academy. At first, I had completely different career in social work and management. After being sick for two years, I came to the conclusion: I want to do something that fills my life with energy. I’ve had a lot of help from my labor coach during this process. When I completed all the tests to found out where my interest lies, I had terrible scores of interest on practically every subject, except from creating things. On this subject I scored really high. But of course there were the well known you-won’t-earn-a-dime-alarms ringing all around me. And I must say, those warnings were really holding me back, even though I’d been dreaming of a creative life for a long time. I was lucky to have a psychologist who helped me, and nowadays my troubles are gone and I have faith in my artistic self.
I found the courage to explore what fascinates me, so I could get started. In my work, I like to touch boundaries, even though I don’t really feel them myself – but I know that there is a limit to what is generally accepted. For example in one of my works I body-paint a dead mouse. In another one, I create something with hair, or with a fish. Some would find this dirty or scary, but I don’t feel that EEEEKKK-experience. I can say that I am open minded. Maybe that’s why some find my works edgy, but it’s not meant to be provocative.
One of the discoveries I recently had, was using hair as a medium. When I was working on my work ‘hair chair’ a lot of hair fell to the ground and I could see figures in it. So I immediately started shaping letters.
Recently I was passing by a fish market in Amsterdam and a bended fish caught my eye. To me, that clearly was an S. That’s when I just hung over the bins, gazing into all the different shapes. Besides that, a fish is obviously very slippery, which still appeals to me. Sometimes I just choose a shape or a letter, so that I can fully dedicate myself to the material.
In my work I am always curious and looking for the limits. I work from home, but also often in nature. It depends on the project I am working on. The photo of the chair made out of hair. I just made it in my apartment. Daylight lamps and go. First I worked mostly from home and later I started working more in nature. In the beginning I was very busy shaping the object, so I didn’t really pay attention to the background yet. Later I found nature to be the perfect unpolished stage. It was creating an enormous amount of depth.
A year ago, I suddenly looked at work and saw the common thread. Truly an AHA moment: it’s all about skin, it’s all about the body, about tactility. I always knew it was about material and I suddenly saw all kinds of categories.
In my last series I took this very literally. The feeling on my skin. Sometimes it feels a bit crazy and scary to share this. But this is what fascinates me. Each photo contains a material, a tactile and a sensual fascination. I always secretly knew I would do such a project. Because in the past I thought it would be great to pour blue paint around someone and photograph that. At that time I even lived with my parents. And now about 30 years later I just did this.