The Plantation Collective 2 

Maurice Van Es

Interview by Joanna Cresswell

sculptural photography


Tell us about your process. What reference or influence (if any) do you take from other mediums? Most important for me is the life itself. All the questions, concerns and wonder I get from living my life is the starting point for every project. I use photography to describe my relationship towards my subject. When I go and see an exhibition I like to ask the question: What if you have one life, what do you want the audience to see from it? The type of medium used to communicate this to the audience is not important. People who are wondering inspires me, and also artists where you can see their fascination in how they presented it: Artists who create their own world. Besides the art world I'm also very much influenced by low culture things as hiphop, football and television shows.  

Are these pictures concerned with exploring formal and aesthetical interests – studies of form, colour, movement, how things work together, or are they representational, metaphorical?  What is the weight that holds these pictures together? I use aesthetics to show my love to my subjects. Most of the time I am using a simple composition. When I studied my tutors were annoyed because everything had to be in the middle in my photographs. But what if that had a reason for me? It's just very natural for me to show the things you're fascinated by in the middle of your view.    


Are you a photographer or an artist using photography? Most of all I'm just a human looking at the world. By coincidence I'm Maurice van Es and I use photography in different ways to make work about what fascinates me. But that whole What are you? / What is it?  thing really doesn't interest me so much. (Most of the time people who are called photographers are afraid of being compared with their uncle who also calls himself a photographer.)     

Does your work reflect on the medium of photography or the photographic image?  If so, is that intentional? Yes, I'm fascinated by the role photography plays in our lives. We use photography to express our powerlessness to time. By using photography you're connected to the time element of the medium. I like my work to react on that aspect of photography.  

 Typically, are your works more about construction or deconstruction? For me as a maker I love the found sculptures more. They don't want to be anything themselves. I love things that don't have any intention to be something. Because of these unintended coincidence they can become so much more.   

 Are you interested in the notion of your pictures as objects? Do you think about how their physicality may endure as you are photographing them or is that an afterthought?  Yes wow! A printed picture adds so much. I love it how drawers and painters start with a blank paper/canvas and I am really aware of that. They add something to the paper/canvas to make it valuable and that's the work. With making a photographic print you can do the same, as it being the essence of what we do. In Milan I made a live print installation, I printed the photographs I had made while experiencing Milan. At the same time they were deleted. This way I ended up with a roll of 40 meters unique photographic paper, that was the only physical remaining of being in the city for 10 days. {C}

Often sculptural photographic works are concerned with elevating banal objects, situations or events to a status of ‘art’ – when does something become art for you? Art.. I don't know. I sometimes have difficulties with the word art, it's so high culture, privileged to things that can only be seen as important. While my mother also makes ‘sculptures’ while housekeeping. When I photograph a simple object, I would love the viewer to feel the same wonder as I felt when I photographed it. Or just give you the opportunity of a renewed view, as if you see this object for the first time again, in a different context. HUH? What is this? Personally for me all these moments/circumstances I photograph are entrances to a certain time, a certain place. They raise simple questions like: Where? How? What? Who? Why? They enrich the ‘now’ in a mysterious way. It's very nice to have these images.