J U D I T H   W E S T E R V E L D



As an artist I am committed to explore how people's stories and experiences are voiced, some being heard and remembered, others silenced and forgotten. Art's efficacy in bringing about change in society is an on-going concern of mine. The beliefs and rituals, patterns and hierarchies that define our ordinary day-to-day life are intricately intertwined, giving the impression of some kind of coherence. Coherence being what one considers normal, the beliefs and rituals, existing patterns and hierarchies. They feel set in stone. Of course this is an illusion as there are so many occurrences and circumstances, public and private, cultural and natural, which expose the inherent fragility of the systems by which we lead our lives.

Over the last years these aspects have found expression in my art practice, exploring these aspects in a socio-political and historical context, focussing on the shared colonial history of the Netherlands and South Africa, and how this past still influences the present. I am raised in both of these countries, which shaped my cultural identity as a person and it gives an affective dimension to this topic from an artistic point of view. I approach this subject matter from the inside out, looking at how people's stories and experiences are voiced, being heard and remembered or silenced and forgotten and I relate this to my personal and dual position, which urges me to approach this topic from multiple perspectives. To achieve this I research the relations between the archive, the voice and the narrative. I work in close collaboration with people, make use of written stories and sound fragments of testimonies from archives safekeeping the past, gather found footage and create new frameworks for interaction. I hereby gather a multiplicity of voices, perspectives and interpretations that are historical and contemporary, public and private, connecting and integrating the worlds of facts and stories. In my research, as well as in the aesthetic construction and presentation this manifests itself in the collage way of working that I deploy, gathering, connecting and juxtaposing seemingly disparate sources together.

By reframing that what is foreclosed, marginalized and normalized, I strive to find new ways to break apart the fixed positions of who is listened to and can be seen, who or what is remembered and historicized with my work. I thereby aim to present a new and more inclusive perspective that harbours the possibility for history to be augmented, changing our understanding of the present and vision of the future.