RUIS, the Dutch word for noise in the sense of the grains you find on images, is a brand new, Antwerp-based art collective founded by eight young, up-and-coming photographers and graphic designers. This Thursday their first group show, “Destination Unknown”, kicks off at neighboring galleries Chambre National & Collectiv National, and on the occasion we spoke with photographer and founding member Miles Fischler about it all.
How did the Collective emerge? How did you all find each other?
We’re all living in Antwerp, but from three different schools: KASK Antwerp, Sint-Lucas Antwerp and Sint-Lukas Brussels. Some of us were classmates or friends even before the collective. The initial idea came from Eva and Tessa, who had a duo show last summer and wanted to find a way to show or sell all the books and prints they had left. They realized that this was something a lot of artists would like to do and planned an art market at Mokkapot which went really well. After that the collective grew further and now we’re eight.
What’s your common denominator? What binds you together?
We’re all young artists living in Antwerp who recently graduated or will do so soon. And we’re all very interested in the use of images.
Why did you form this collective?
All of us have been working on several projects over the last few years, mainly at school, and are now keen on ‘coming out’ with our work, showing everyone what we do. To do this in a collective is much easier and more fun than on your own. You get to support each other, divide the work and you can reach much more people with your projects. Plus, it’s very rewarding when we discuss our personal work in the group.
What do you want to achieve with RUIS?
One goal is of course to get people interested in what we do and animate them to follow our work. And as an Antwerp collective, we’d love to build a name for ourselves in the local art scene. But our plan is also to reinvent our personal practices by working together, creating something new by merging our different creations.
Can you tell me more about the upcoming expo? What is it about? How did you come up with the theme?
“Destination Unknown” takes place in two neighbouring galleries in the city centre. Our starting point was the idea of travelling. Most artists, especially photographers, draw inspiration from their trips abroad, but many end up keeping the results only for themselves, because they’re waiting for the right time to show them. The exhibition is a platform for these works which are the offspring of everyone’s recent voyages. Eventually we also opened up the subject to connected themes like exoticism, tourism, being confronted with the unknown, etc.
What did you personally choose to show and why?
I decided to show a small selection of six images of my recent travels. I had never used my photographic work made during travels for school and was getting anxious to show some, so I’m really happy I finally have the opportunity to do so. I went to Marseille and California last summer and I recently visited family in Israel. I’m always photographing a lot more when traveling, because you look at your environment with fresh eyes, with a type of heightened awareness, which I find really pleasant. I selected images of things I bumped into while strolling around in these new places. They are compositions and scenes that caught my attention, things that I find interesting, absurd or beautiful.
How would you describe your overall photography approach?
I never have a concept before I make a series, it’s really important for me to be able to walk around with an open and curious mind. The moment you plan what you want to photograph you end up blocking certain opportunities and your intuition. I take a look at the work I have made and then find a certain subject or aesthetic that connects them. Colour and the light of the moment are very important. Eventually, it’s always a matter of selecting after the images have been made. For me, it’s the most natural way to work.
What are your future plans with RUIS?
We hope our exhibition will be a success. Then, from mid-April to mid-June we will be opening a pop-up store close to Berchem Station selling prints, but also different types of handmade objects. If all this goes well, we’d like to organise more RUIS events every few months. Currently, we’re also thinking about a type of party or festival that brings together visual art and music.
RUIS are An Onghena (graphic designer), Eva Donckers (photographer), Joanna Maria Druyts (photographer), Miles Fischler (photographer), Sander Adriaens (photographer), Tessa Van Thielen (photographer), Tille Lingier (graphic designer) and Valentina Stellino (photographer)
“Destination Unknown” runs until 19 April