Transformation Design

Squatting Scenes

Alexander van der Heide
An ode to occupying spaces that are not intended to be claimed by me
Practice Autonomous Practices
Project Honours/Visual Culture
Major Transformation Design
Year Fourth Year

Nominee Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices 2020


I have been rejected for looking too feminine so many times in my life - in dating as well as other areas - that I started to reject my own feminine side. I only wore different shades of grey and blue for years in fear of looking too expressive.

“Movies (A/N: and western society, popular culture and mainstream media) don’t show boys how to defend themselves against the patriarchy,” (Stokes), instead they claim a space in which the power regime of the patriarchy is constantly reinforced and boys are taught to resist femininity, creating an (internalised) normative femme-phobia in boys and men.

We need new ways to fight our current regime. We cannot look at the past for solutions


How much space is there for me to find, be, value and express myself outside the masculine normativity that is constantly pressured onto my male assigned body?

“We need new ways to fight our current regime. We cannot look at the past for solutions,” (Preciado). In order for us to free ourselves from these power regimes [that establish normativities], we must change the way we experience them. Only by creating a consciousness of the matter at hand can we start to shift it in the right direction. “The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Proust as quoted in Hooker). With these words, we start to unpack how people can become conscious of the non-physical space that they have and rule over. We need not change how we express gender or coin it in different ways but rather redefine what it is and means for our society.

With coining non-physical space as one of the key concepts in my project I felt the need to give more quick-access insight into the term and theoretical framework. This is why I had the animation developed. As this new concept is quite abstract, the work that I present to you is a first step into the process of visualisation of non-physical space. At the same time, it serves as a beacon of support and visibility for other queer individuals.

Presented in the public space, these images, as well as that they visualise the squatting of non-physical space, confront the audience with its existence and with how it can be claimed.



There have been numerous occasions where I did not have the liberty or chance to reclaim the space that had been taken from me. In an attempt to open up this non-physical space for myself years after this took place I will be reflecting on these scenes with makeup, the medium I have most recently gotten involved within squatting the non-physical space I need for my own subjective agency.

I will be reclaiming non-physical space by activation in the public space. Forcing the public to open up a space to deal with our issues as a society, our issues as individuals and our internalised issues. Manifesting the literal change I wish to see in the world.

This project formulates, in a way, a reflection onto my personal life and work as an artist. An ode to defying norms in cultures of oppression, through the lens of my own life. I have developed makeup into a new language. Using it to show the ugly side of things, as opposed to making things prettier, which makeup is originally intended for. The slogans on the posters form cries of desperation in reaction to my otherness that have been thrown at myself during my life. The portraits and scenes are detailed to a level where they convey many layers, through which they become multi-interpretable and relatable to a broad group, but always a critique on our current systemic and institutional normativity.

In this project, I have collaborated with artists Tessa Ruger and Samuel Does.