Carlijn Jacobs is fascinated by traditional and performative forms of costume and cross-dressing. Her vision as a photographer relates phenomena such as the Japanese geisha and the age-old tradition of the Venetian carnival to the beauty and fashion of today. Jacobs is also experimenting with artificial intelligence, which incites and fuels her imagination. The images she is able to create through AI are like frames from a strangely appealing nightmare, which can occasionally be an invitation into a fairy world that the viewer can enter and explore at will. In the exhibition we see how Carlijn’s narrative and creative core is built around the fairy tale: Sleeping Beauty is a journey between two worlds in a continuous dreamlike state. Jacobs’ heroines seem to want to detach themselves from reality, from the conventional, from the ordinary, in a series of photographs where the nature of things is unreal and at times purposely disturbing. In occasion of the exhibition, Carlijn Jacobs invites Dutch artist and designer Sabine Marcelis to dialogue with her work by enriching the exhibition space with a selection of her drawings, allowing the two to create their dream world together
“I am fascinated by the idea of the mask. You hide behind something and can become someone else. The whole fashion world is actually a form of escapism: you create a new persona. Changing looks and combining the existing with something non-existent is something that plays a big role in my work. ‘Beautifying’ reality, and thus shaping a world that does not yet exist.”
A world, that of the exhibition, where we can play with the concept of appearance, because disguise is the tool that allows us to lie, to tell that lie we would so much like to tell. The mask then takes on a radical symbol of disguise, for when one chooses to wear it, one hides from reality and has the – apparent – right to feel like someone else. The eccentric creatures staged by the photographer assume in her practice a position of moral and social rebellion, where otherworldly subjects wander amidst the pageantry of a masquerade ball. The theatrical nature, originality and nonconformist aspect of Jacobs’ images signal a willingness to resist contemporary social norms. Inspiration for the visual language of the 1980s and 1990s that blends different artistic styles in a surprising way, this can also be found in the Eyes editorial project.
“I like taking things out of comfort; the pictures I’m most attached to are the least sophisticated. I just love to create atmospheres and stories where I feel drawn to, visualize the things that are in my head for a time.”