Interview: Linda Koopman
Luca Curci talks with Linda Koopman during CANVAS International Art Fair 2022, at Palazzo Bembo – Venice Grand Canal.
Linda was born on the 16th of May 1950 in Den Helder, the Netherlands. After high school she moved to Amsterdam to study ‘Monumental Arts’ at Gerrit Rietveld Akademie. Besides her artwork she teached arts and culture in Alkmaar. At the University of Amsterdam, she studied Cultural Anthropology; her special interest was ‘Material culture’. As a result of photo series and archival research about her surroundings, she writes articles for magazines about the cultural history of the landscape. In it, and in books on the subject, the photos are used as illustrations, but once edited, they stand on their own and are exhibited in photo books like ‘International Masters of Photography Vol 1’, photo magazines and exhibitions. Changing portfolios of her work can also be seen on the sites: www.NDMagazine.net, www.bandwmag.com, and www.socialdocumentary.net Last year her photoworks were exhibited at New York Art Fair 2021, Red Dot Miami 2021 and digital presentations on Blank Wall Gallery in Athens and Europe Art Fair in Amsterdam. This year her work will be seen on Tokyo Art Fair 2022.
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Linda Koopman – My parents were both avid amateur photographers. Because we didn’t have a darkroom, the photos were printed in the living room. That meant waiting until it was dark enough and the whole family gathered around the dinner table. Everyone got a task; as the youngest I was allowed to operate the bucket with rinse water. It was exciting to see the photos appear in the developer bath. When I got my first camera as a teenager, I took a course with a photographer in the area. He let me experiment so that I developed my own way of looking. Structures in landscapes in particular became an important subject. During my studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam I made photo series of structures in landscapes as a design for other visual work. I got my first serious photo assignments during that period. A teacher asked me to take pictures of his work for an art book. For a gallery in Amsterdam, I made a series of photos and technical drawings of antique Peruvian textiles. A nature and landscape association bought photo series of Dutch landscapes, which they used for publications and lectures.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
LK – While making the photo series of our landscape it became clear to me that I wanted to know more about how this landscape was created. Through the study of cultural anthropology I realized that the typical landscape arose over the centuries because people who settled there had to come up with solutions for the flooding from the North Sea and the many lakes in this region. They traditionally built their houses on mounds, drained water by digging canals, drained lakes with the help of windmills and stopped flooding by building dikes. Using old maps and archival documents, I search for these elements of which some, like the drainage canals, are still functioning today.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
LK – The four photos in this exhibition are about the drainage canals in the polder Schermer, which was reclaimed in 1633-1635 by 52 windmills, and the fact that the lands, due to their low location, are only suitable for cattle breeding and the cultivation of grass. The other 10 photos are about small dikes, made in the Middle Ages, life behind dikes and new inventions like ‘water storage in old polders’.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
LK – Almost every day there is a moment when the weather and the light inspire me to photograph this landscape. Especially at the edges of the day and in rainy weather and storms I walk along a dike or canal or go to the beach to look at the progress of new activities there. Under those circumstances, it is quiet, although it is precisely then that I am aware that this landscape is man-made and never will be ‘finished’. Especially in our time, in which climate change plays a major role, it is important to be aware of the old techniques, such as ‘creating new land’, and to develop new ideas, like ‘building on the water’. The more you know about it, the more you see interesting initiatives in your surroundings.
LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
LK – For me a photo is successful if it is as simple as possible and technically well executed. When a photo immediately shows me a specific aspect of a any subject, it invites me to think about it or give my interpretation to it. That is the reason why I often photograph details such as specific vegetation, a special construction, a wet piece of land or a bend in a dike. They are there for a reason.
LC – How important is the editing process in your work? How’s yours?
LK – The editing of a series of photos is in my opinion the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the process because most themes span many years. My last project was about the construction of new land on the seaside of the dyke along the North Sea. Needless to say, years have been spent on this and, once ready, it is interesting to see how such a new landscape develops. After choosing the images which tell the story most clearly I have to make a visual whole from the photos taken. To achieve the desired image of a series I make use of diverse technical possibilities.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
LK – Only in the press-release I found out there were three sections in this exhibition. I responded to the request to send some specific images from my website for Canvas 2022, so I assume my work fit in one of the sections.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID Group can represent an opportunity for artists?
LK – Every time you exhibit is an opportunity to introduce a different group of visitors to your work. I assume that the events ITSLIQUID Group organizes are well-attended and I hope my photos will be of interest to some.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LK – So far I have enjoyed working with ITSLIQUID Group. I have been happy with the tips I got when filling out the forms, communication is smooth and I feel free to ask questions if necessary.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LK – The locations that ITSLIQUID Group has at its disposal are beautiful, the presentation looks neat and you are kept well informed about the organized events and publications.