Nominee Threshold Award Social Practices
Meet Julia van Duijn! Julia was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Social Practices with her graduation project ‘Rethinking Nature’. In this interview, Julia tells us about her work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
My graduation project started when, one day, I was walking outside and found some rocks on my path. I wanted to take the rocks home with me. This suddenly started me thinking about what it means to take something from nature home with you. I wondered how other people see this, and I started reflecting on our relationship with nature, how humans connect with nature, the ways in which we are in touch with it, and above all: what the term nature actually means.
So I researched what nature means to different people. I started a large-scale survey in which I asked people to share their definitions of the word nature. By doing so, I discovered that it is a very unstable and dynamic term that can mean many different things to many different people. Based on these different definitions, I created visual translations. Eventually, I showcased all these visual translations in a book called ‘Rethinking Nature’, alongside my research document that I called ‘Capturing Nature.'
The research also helped me rethink my own relationship with nature. I used to think of nature as something quite remote from us. A place far away from home, outside of the city. It made me consider whether I see myself, or humans in general, as part of nature or not. It is all a matter of perspective.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
With this project, I aimed to discover what the definitions and meanings of words can do to our philosophical groundings, values, attitudes and behavior towards the environment. The way we see nature is, in my opinion, strongly linked to the way we treat our environment. I believe it is important to look into the many meanings of the word nature and what we are actually talking about before we engage in discussions around climate problems and how to deal with them. As long as we are not on the same page, it is difficult to communicate effectively. My aim was to start a critical discussion about the meaning of the word and our way of communicating about nature.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I still want to develop this project further. Together with the Leiden-based artists’ collective ROEM that I am part of, I am organising a project in which we collaborate with students from Leiden University. Currently, I am working together with a student of English language and culture. We are doing research into the different ways people interpret language and how we create images in our heads, based on language. I can see this project as a kind of extension and side path of the research I did in Rethinking Nature.
To read more about Julia’s work, pay a visit to her Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, her journey can be followed on Instagram and her Website. The winners of the Threshold Award Social Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.