Winner Henri Winkelman Award 2020 (first place)
On November 5th, 2020, Roos Tulen won the Henri Winkelman Award (first place) worth of €10,000. In this interview, we discuss Roos’ ambitious career plans and look back at her time at WdKA.
What does this prize mean to you?
Winning this award, and especially winning such a substantial amount of money, is a profoundly humbling experience. The acknowledgement feels really incredible. And besides that, this award allows me to invest in myself and to lift my business to the next level.
How would you introduce yourself as a practitioner today?
“Hello, I am Roos Tulen, experience artist.” I would say. The idea of experience artist is something I developed during my time at the Academy. I have been refining it for the past four years now. It is a new branch of art I developed, in which I combine my observations and experiences with those of others in order to create a new experience for the audience. It’s about getting closer to yourself and discovering yourself by learning from others. The experience artist almost ‘sculpts’ the feelings and experiences of her audience.
It’s about sharing stories, not only by telling them but also by ‘feeling’ them in a multi-sensory way.
What role did WdKA play in the process of becoming the professional you are today?
During my time at WdKA I discovered myself on a deeper level. I didn’t only discover who I am as an artist, but also that I work quite differently than most people. I see my time at the Academy as four valuable years of research, after which I created one large masterpiece—my graduation project the Dinner for Fortune-Hunters (Het Diner voor Gelukszoekers). That is a different way of working, because at the Academy we usually had to finish and present our work before the end of each semester. I realised it is perfectly fine to make one great, finished artwork per year. And ever since I have embraced this idea, my fire has been burning even stronger!
Also, the freedom of WdKA’s education, has given me the chance to discover myself as an artist. I remember that in my minor, cultural diversity, we were working on a project with people from a neighbourhood in the East of Rotterdam. I couldn’t really find my way in the project, so I started working at a refugee camp instead. There, I discovered my talent. I am quite average when it comes to artistic skills like drawing, but when it comes to people and communicating with them, I am really in my element. People are my material.
In your nomination video you mentioned the term ‘Articipation’, can you explain what this means and how it came about?
A lot of my art revolves around the power of the collective. I am fascinated by a theory called ‘The Wisdom of the Crowd’, which says that wisdom can be created by combining the knowledge of a large group of people. It was introduced by the British scientist Francis Galton at the beginning of the 20th century. In one of his experiments, he asked 100 people to estimate the weight of a bull. Surprisingly, the average of all estimations was almost identical to the actual weight of the animal. This experiment demonstrates the importance of collectiveness, group decisions, and knowledge networks.
In my work, I experiment with the power of the collective in order to achieve results even the most talented creative genius would not achieve.
I came up with a name for this collective art practice: Articipation. Articipation combines the Theory of the Crowd with the creation of art. It goes beyond participation: whereas participation means ‘making art with others’, articipation is defined as ‘the art of making together’. The experienced that this collective making creates is central to this form of art. Because the term speaks to the imagination, people can immediately envision what it entails. Just like the term experience artist, articipation is a means of communicating what I do with the rest of the world.
What are you going to do with the prize money?
I applied the ten-ten-ten rule, which means that I used ten percent of the prize money to buy a gift for myself, I saved ten percent for my future and donated ten percent to charity. I invested the other 70 percent of the money in the development of my company. Initially, I wanted to use the money to make a documentary about the Dinner for the Fortune-Hunters. But instead, I decided to invest the money in a business coach that recognises my talent and can help me grow my business. My ambition is to become the largest and most renowned experience artist in the Netherlands, maybe even a multi-million company. In order to achieve that, my mindset needs to grow as well. My coach helps me develop my business mindset, but also on a spiritual level. For example by addressing feelings of inferiority and insecurity of my creativity. Making art means to expose yourself, and for that, you need to be self-confident and sure of your ground. If I get the opportunity to work on an amazing large-scale project, I am now confident that I am ready to take on the responsibility.
The jury recommended you to guard your own principles in reaching the audience of your work. Has this been a reoccurring challenge in your art practice? And how are you going to follow up on this feedback in the future?
Someone from a coaching programme I participated in once gave me great feedback on this. He told me that I should see myself as a ‘content pump’. I keep pumping the things I believe to be interesting and important into the world, and by doing so I build my own brand. It does take a bit more time and effort to find my audience because there is not just one type of audience for my work. Instead of saying what my audience wants to hear, I say what I believe needs to be said. The audience that relates to these ideas will find me. This is a very different approach than the one I learned at the academy and the way I have been working for the past couple of years. I need to learn and exercise to trust myself. Although I am still uncomfortable saying I want to grow a multi-million company, it may be just as much within reach as this €10,000 award.
How has the Corona crisis influenced your work?
The crisis has changed everything, in my case in a positive way. The world is changing in its fundaments and I can observe what that means for people. I am an experience artist that works with people, so this is a fascinating time for me. For example, I now see new connections with the Dinner for Fortune Hunters. Refugees often spend at least three years in isolation and suspense, not being able to see anyone, not having any money. Now, I can point out that in many ways, their situation is very similar to what many people experience during the lockdown.
At the Academy, I learned to find creative solutions. As I mentioned before, I am working on a project for which I asked 100 artists to send me a piece of art on what ‘home’ means to them by post. I am now making a book with one artwork per page. In order to read the book, the reader needs to tear open the pages, almost like a letter in an envelope. Like this, reading the book becomes an experience. The corona crisis requires different approaches and trial and error, but that makes it interesting as well.
Where do you want to be in five years?
I recently discovered my passion for coaching. I heard that the planets are aligned in the same way as when the renaissance took place. That is mind-blowing! But as long as artists are not producing masterpieces because they are struggling to find their place in the market, there will never be a second renaissance. So, I made it my life mission to help artists find themselves and make good money with their work. It is going very well so far, and I feel like I have truly discovered my hidden talent.
In the future, I hope to empower even more artists to reach their full potential, because in that way, I believe we can truly change the world.