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03 juli 2020 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (22): Karel van Laere

Theatre makers, actors, visual artists, and dancers are much affected by government measures to keep the corona virus under control. What is the impact of these measures on the young former nominees and winners of the Piket Art Prizes? Part 22: Karel van Laere.

Impact of the measures

“I should have been in Russia now, for a residency”, says Karel van Laere, 2014 winner in the Dramatic Arts category. Karel is used to travelling around the world with his (video) performances, but crossing borders in corona times is quite a challenge. “I’m dependent on festivals, so it’s rather a set-back that many have been cancelled.” At the same time Karel sees different ways of sharing work emerging. His performance The Non-Present Performer, for instance, had a single online screening on the website of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul. “The registration was much like a ‘real’ performance, starting at five p.m. South Korean time, 10 a.m. Dutch time. It was just as exciting as a live performance,” Karel says. “There were live reactions, too.” He expects more initiatives of this kind to develop in the future.


Impression The Non Present Performer

Just before the outbreak of the corona crisis, he had finished a project for Dutch Rail. “It meant I had a buffer. But as a result, I could not fall back on any of the government’s financial support measures, although I hardly earned anything afterwards. Fortunately, I always try to work as economically as possible.” The video installation shows Karel being dragged around Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station; it can be seen at the station’s platform 5/6 for the next three years.

Karel’s project at Sloterdijk Station.

So what now?

Just before the outbreak of the crisis, Karel invested in a new video camera. “I had been hesitant for a long time, because of the expenditure, but now I’m tremendously pleased I bought it. It will last for years.” In the Noord-Holland meadows he made shots of the dancer with whom he had planned to go to Russia. “My parents have a holiday cottage in the area and it proved to be just as inspiring as a foreign country.” In addition, Karel is working on a project with blind people whom he interviewed about their dreams and what they look like. “I’m not yet sure how this is going to work out. In any case, it will be  something with audio.” He also had a windfall. “I have been selected for the In Art We Trust Fund of We Are Public. Every month the income from We Are Public’s membership fees is donated to fifteen makers to give them a boost,” Karel explains.

 Plans for the future

In the autumn of 2021 Karel hopes to travel to Japan for a three months residency. “I signed up for it. Hopefully by that time it will be possible to travel again.” Karel’s grandfather also worked in Japan for some time. “He designed sweets. Of course, he didn’t speak the language and had to communicate with his hands and feet. I often find it hard to find the right words, too, so I’d like to develop a language of my own when I’m there.” In January of this year Karel was also in Japan. “I was right on top of world news. Just in front of my hotel, on the coast, there was this cruise ship where they had discovered the corona virus. That was something of a confrontation, but at the time I had no idea how the pandemic would turn out.” In the coming year, Karel will apply for an artist-in-residence position at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, a long-cherished wish. “I think that is the right place for me to develop.”

Photo top: Hessel Waalewijn