Maaike is a artist born in Holland who studied at St. Martins in London. Her work - largely influenced by the likes of Gordon Matta-Clark - deals with the manner in which humanity simplifies and categorises the world at large in order to better understand it and discuss it, often at the expense of noticing how similar things really are.
Vice: Could you explain the winning piece for us, and what your work is about?
Maaike: All my work is about how everything we see in the world is basically the same. If, for example, you zoom into molecules on your hand, or you look through a telescope, it all basically looks the same. So I used that theory to make drawings of these cellular shapes that I have in all of my work.
Then at some point I wanted to make it more real, so I tried to break down my photographs with this construction, with glass and mirrors. So I'm trying to make things look the same, but to put it really simply, I'm trying to break everything down. It makes you think about how, as human beings, we give things names, and we categorise things to understand the world and to be able to talk about things. You also lose important information when you do that. You are just simplifying things. Even by using words you simplify what you want to say. For example, what I'm doing now, I'm trying to explain my thoughts to you in the most simplistic way that I can.
In what you and Ben wrote, you were saying that your aim was to break down people's monotony and expectations of walking around in a crowd. Is this the other part of what you were trying to do?
Well, that's linked into what I was saying about giving names and categories to things. But I think because you learn how to do that from the day you were born, a lot of people don't really look at things the way they really are. They just see things and place them into the category they know. We do that with people and buildings, all sorts of things. My aim with this project is to literally break that vision down and surprise the passer by, and maybe give them some new thoughts on what they see in their everyday life.
The specific piece that Ben chose as the winning piece, and also in reference to your work more generally, what is the importance of the settings and the surroundings of each piece? Or is it more about the universal aspect of your work?
It is definitely more about the universal aspect of it. I could theoretically do this anywhere. I have used the shards of photography in loads of different situations. It's definitely about taking a step back from the human approach and taking a more universal view on things.
Apart from this shards of photography piece, is there other kind of work that you do, other mediums and projects?
What I do at the moment is I use these shard photographs, but I cut them up into little pieces, and then I use cardboard to build layers. So I make sort of three-dimensional pieces, kind of like an architectural model with them, and I draw on top of these cardboard pieces and then create a three-dimensional view of a world that doesn't exist but uses the visual material of the world we know. So you keep that recognition of colours and textures and shapes, but you can't really fit it into something recognisable.
What do you think the state of public art is right now?
The concept of street art is really great. It has the potential to give a really interesting message. Sure, a lot of the graffiti that we call street art is more about the colours and the looks rather than the message. But I think it can be something good just to counterbalance boring and ugly buildings.
What was the most "unbuttoned" thing that you've ever done with your art?
I'm just thinking of one occasion, which isn't actually that extreme. But I was taking pictures in Liverpool street station and I was really excited because I had just built this massive sheet of glass and mirrors, which I had with me. It is something that I always use to take my images, and it's important to mention that I don't use Photoshop to take these images. I take the photographs through a filter with glass and mirrors.
So you carry a big pane of glass and mirrors with you when you're taking photographs?
Yeah. So it was one of the first shoots that I ever did, and I was inside Liverpool Street station, happy with what I was doing, and suddenly four guards came up to me, and they wanted to send me away. They thought I might have some kind of bomb. And it just made me laugh because I was literally exploding Liverpool Street Station, but just on paper. They were really nervous and almost tried to take my camera. But in the end it all worked out fine and the image turned out great. Is that unbuttoned enough?
Yeah, that was perfect. So what's the next development in your work? What would you like to do?
I would like to go more extreme with what I would call my two-dimensional sculptures, which are layered cardboard structures. Maybe I would like to use wood to make them into actual objects so that you could rock around in them. So that's my next dream.
Do you have quite a big studio for this then?
No. There isn't much room. Basically, I need a new sponsor after this. So let me know, I need someone with a big machine to cut the wood as well!
What kind of contemporary artists do you look at now who are doing something different?
One of my main inspirations - who isn't contemporary - is Gordon Matta-Clark. He literally went around with a chainsaw and lots of big tools to cut holes in buildings and took photographs through the holes. He is my main hero. I just wanted to do what he did but I had to find another way of doing it.
So he's your main inspiration. Are there any other contemporary artists that are doing a similar thing to you?
Richard Wilson is doing a similar thing. You probably have seen his work, just maybe without knowing it. He also cuts holes into buildings. For example, he cut a huge circular hole into a building and then he makes it turn around.
Another artist who is an inspiration to me is called Jan Dibbets. He uses photography, drawing and collages to think about the way we look at things. He tries to change perspectives in a way that totally confuses you, and I really like that.