Where I'm @

Let the Unexpected Unfold

Stephany Caparn
Fri 8 Mar
Function Photographer
Year 2018
Major Photography
Practice Commercial Practices

What is your occupation now?

It has been quite a rollercoaster after graduation and wonderful things happened to me I didn’t even dare to dream of. During my graduation, I met Myrna van de Water (if you are still a student at WdKA, go visit her!) and thanks to Myrna's help and advice my work is now sponsored by Instax via a creative agency. Whenever I work on a project I always shoot some cool polaroids.

A few weeks after graduation I started working on a commission for The Wereld Museum Rotterdam as a follow-up of my graduation project. I teamed up with an amazing stylist Inez Naomi and models and shot a series about female mythical figures inspired by the collection presented at the museum.

Contemporary Archetypes. The Caregiver.
Contemporary Archetypes. The Innocent.

In the meantime, Wim van Krimpen invited me for my first solo exhibition at Museum Villa Mondriaan. It did not take me a long time to think that over and it was my first experience building an exhibition in a museum. I got the chance to work with very inspiring people and also the youngest female Director in The Netherlands! I have gained new experience in putting together an exhibition and have learned so much from those days building up. The energy we all shared was overwhelming. And somewhere in between these two busy projects, I had received an Emerging Artist nomination from Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Solo exhibition at Museum Villa Mondriaan, opening. Photography: Evelien Hengeveld.
Solo exhibition at Museum Villa Mondriaan. Photography: Daniel Hoitink.

Unfortunately, not long after all the fantastic stuff had come along, I have been knocked down by mental health issues. For a very long time then, I had been working inefficiently and overworking myself without taking any breaks. It took a while to understand this and find balance in being a single mother and being eager to thrive as an artist. I had been always on the go, go, go, never saying no to anything. So in the end, I really needed to take my time to rest (and, sadly, had to say no to things I would have never rejected otherwise) to work on my healing. Now, I return to being myself again, become more active and my inspiration and passion are starting to blossom up again. Losing my inspiration and having zero interest in any photography projects had frightened me, as well as thinking it may not come back anymore.

I was always on the go, go, go, never saying no to anything.

Remarkably, after daring to claim the necessary break, things kept on developing without me actually doing any physical work. My hard work done before was not wasted! Recently, my work has been nominated for the Harry Penningsprijs 2019, great news! This means there will be another exhibition from March 29 till April 17. Slowly but surely, I am getting back on track and am facing a new exciting project. It works so motivational to be involved in social events and share your thoughts, your visions, your ideas and to discuss them with other creative minds.

Solo exhibition at Museum Villa Mondriaan, talking to Benno Tempel. Phototography: Evelien Hengeveld.

What did you gain from your study at WdKA?

Learning to always stick to my guns, while respecting my teachers' feedback. The feedback moments are by all means crucial, but somebody's opinion about your work is just an opinion and it is up to you whether you take it into consideration. During my first two years at WdKA, I was mostly pleasing others, which is never satisfying for an artist. Neither did it take me any further. It is OK to fail and not know where you’re heading at, as long as you do what you feel you should be doing. The experiment is key.

Motherhood reinforces every perspective I have in and about the arts.

But the real turning point for me as a person and artist happened in 2016, in the midst of my bachelor, when I became a mother of a daughter. Motherhood reinforces every perspective I have in and about the arts and it plays an important role in my development as an artist: I continue to practice introspection over and over again, turning myself inside out in order to grow.

Earth Girls 2018 for Wereld Museum Rotterdam

Sangyang Ratih, Goddess of Love,  Feminine Power, Mystery and Fertility.

Motherhood makes it impossible not to put my heart and soul into work. Being a mother and an artist, I use the emotional connection, love and caregiving to create and defend my identity. I want to acknowledge and embrace the role of a mother and make it visible because this role is an undervalued form of work. That is why I focus on gender inequality in the art world and society.

Marina Abramović once said that having children would have been a disaster for her work and that children hold women back in the art world. I find it a very old-fashioned point of view, I think being a mother and a successful artist are not mutually exclusive. Motherhood is an inspiring superpower that challenges you mentally and physically every single day (while writing this I’ve heard  “mommy” at least 200 times).

I can’t imagine photography will ever become extinct.

Favourite WdKA memory?

The lovely time I spent working and printing at the Publication Station with Jasper (Koster, coordinator of WdKA's Print Station). It was my second home. And, of course, Karin Arink (Course Director of Fine Art & Photography departments) holds a special place in my heart for her support and encouragement.

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

I think filming will play even a bigger role in the near future since this is already happening, look at Theo Wenner. But I can’t imagine photography will ever become extinct. I got my first Pentax at the age of 13. I was so thrilled about WdKA having a doka, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. I am so glad that analogue photography is being appreciated again after the dominance of digital photography. I hope this isn't just a trend.

You never leave your house without…?

My lipstick!

Name your favourite recent project.

I think many artists know the feeling of never being really satisfied with own work that also pushes us to our limits, sometimes thinking f*ck it, I am going to delete everything and start all over again. My last project was creating portraits for The Wereld Museum Rotterdam which I really enjoyed because the museum has given me a carte blanche. Looking back on this project I regret that my camera broke and had to use a digital one for emergency (talking about stepping out of my comfort zone). Analogue photography is a door to a different world. Nevertheless, I very much look forward to my upcoming project which I don’t want to trumpet about yet. Let’s stay in touch!

Earth Girls 2018 for Wereld Museum Rotterdam

“She, who observes all sounds of suffering in the world” Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.

Earth Girls 2018 for Wereld Museum Rotterdam

A contemporary translation of Agbagli Kossi’s Mami Wata.

Any words of advice to future students?

Don’t tie yourself down to anything. By that I mean do not trap yourself into thinking you can only do this or just one thing. If you want to become an expert in one discipline - that’s great and you should definitely follow your gut feeling - but try to keep your door open for something you have never considered doing. Let the unexpected unfold, be efficient but at the same time go with the flow. Also, if there are any studying mothers reading this, don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a legitimate cultural creator or artist as a woman or mother. You are.

Earth Girls 2018 for Wereld Museum Rotterdam

Sangyang Ratih, Goddess of Love,  Feminine Power, Mystery and Fertility.

Future plans and hopes?

I actually never thought of working with museums and galleries (which perfectly illustrates my answer to the previous question). I made it quite easy for myself by thinking I would become a commercial photographer and collaborate with magazines. This is still something I’d love to experience. I plan to keep on developing new projects and reflecting on society and consider applying for a Master course in maybe women/gender studies.


Visit Stephany's website.

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