Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries
Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries is a Dutch artist whose socio-artistic practice has its origins in the conviction that being a studio artist is too isolated to translate his concerns about the world into work with social impact. He wants to reach people who are outside his network and converse with people with other convictions, values and backgrounds. He wants to break with his sense of social spectatorship and investigate and challenge who ‘the other’ is in our society. Social interventions that rely on co-creation and participation proved to be the best means for this. They are the key to a practice that operates at the center of society. He was a participating artist for Framer Framed’s contribution to the Amsterdam Museum’s online exhibition Corona in the City: Drawing Stories in 2020.
Himmelsbach de Vries works on topical issues that have social and/or political urgency. Recurring issues in his work are: citizenship and politics of exclusion, alternative histories, polarisation and neoliberalism. For these macroissues he looks for translations that are close to the daily and private life of the participants and his own surroundings. His projects therefore begin by creating a personal bridge, as a tool to discuss contested, often uncomfortable questions and to create more understanding on different perspectives.
Each project is closely tailored, made for a specific context and its stakeholders. Because of the diversity of contexts and communities I use a wide range of strategies. This varies from community art projects to organising political pranks; from making public sculptures to giving lectures and workshops; and from researching off-grid living methods to social interventions. With these projects, he tries to inspire his audience with a poetic and often humorous form of engagement: a light revolt against the conventional and linear.
In September 2020, Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries started his residency in Werkplaats Molenwijk. During this residency, he worked on an idea library containing 120 sketched plans for social interventions, which stimulate conversation. With these ideas as a source of inspiration, local residents discussed their own issues during weekly consultation hours in Werkplaats Molenwijk in order to develop new ideas and insights.
A retrospect of his residency is now available in the form of a fanzine: Ideeën voor crisis en gemeenschap (at the moment only in Dutch).