Nazif greets us when we enter Boijmans at the main hall. The very impressive coat-hanger is still there. He has an interactive installation set-up for us. From the main hall, we enter a large room next to the street. At the centre of the room there are all-different objects placed. It looks like rubbish at first glance, as if Nazif toured the city just before the Roteb collected the bulky waste.
The objects don’t seem to have anything in common and are placed at random. When I ask Nazif about his cacophonous still life he explains: ‘These objects are all loose ends in my notebook, all different ideas I had in the past but couldn’t work out – mixed with associative ideas I had walking around here at Boijmans.’
Around the still life are seven easels set up. Ah okay, cool. So there’s an emphasis on this still life, but why? ‘We (you) are going to draw this still life,’ Nazif continues. ‘From seven different perspectives, using seven different techniques, together with six other people.’ I do have to admit that I’m more of a writer than a drawer, I’m also guessing that my photographer also isn’t a good drawer. ‘That’s part of the performance today,’ Nazif adds.
Nazif gathers random visitors at the museum to join us on the drawings and explains what we’re going to do: ‘You see a still life, with seven easels around it. Everyone starts at an easel and draws for three minutes using the materials at that easel. After the three minutes you move to the next easel and continue drawing what you see.’
Everyone is a bit timid, but the fact that nobody is an artist (I think) reinforces the idea that we can’t go wrong. I start off hastily, because I want to draw everything. This is not possible in three minutes. There’s already a start on the next easel when I get there, so I can add some objects. The canvas is pretty much filled with the obvious objects, shapes and colours when we get by the fourth round. I just stick to adding small details. I start to notice even more details after viewing the still life from some time and different perspectives. The canvas is is almost completely filled by the time I’m at the last round. I see that my fellow drawers also note small details, I can only add some strokes with a pen.
The results are pretty cool. Thanks for this creative opportunity Nazif. But why did we do this? ‘The idea came to me when I was doing a group project at art school. We had to make a game – things didn’t work out. Everyone had his own opinion, giving critique on the other ideas. That’s how this project started. Everyone can have his own opinion and everyone can comment on other’s work. This time without fighting and still adding to a beautiful result.’
‘I don’t see myself as an artist per se. I use illustrations to think. I think in images and try to solve problems. What can an image do and accomplish next to being just a pretty picture? This performance for example solves my problem I had with the game instruction at school.’
The still life on itself is based on the core collection of Museum Boijmans. Nazif deliberately used different materials to trigger the drawers to better look at and examine the works of art. The still life at the centre needs it’s random drawers to make it whole. Without the audience as an active spectator this art installation is too random. But with it’s audience there’s a balance between the static art at the centre and the dynamic drawers emphasized by the arbitrary invitation to the people who draw the conclusions. That’s why this project is more performance art than just an art installation.
I ask Nazif about the artwork he has made for us. Nazif responds: ‘The idea was difficult. I had no idea what to draw. I used to make just illustrations, but nowadays I work more autonomously. I don’t want to repeat myself in my work, I want to explore boundaries and shift those. If I make an image now, I want it to be more spontaneously.’
‘That’s why I used an older artwork and worked on that. The artwork used to be part of my Shaped Canvas. The Shaped Canvas where coloured shapes to hang on the wall. To make this image more interesting and spontaneously I scanned parts of it. This is one of the resulting images for that. It’s a good way to illustrate how I work. There are always loose ends and random images in my work. I like to use those for further research and next steps in creating new new boundaries of work.
Thank you Nazif! We had a blast drawing the still life. Check Nazif’s website for more Nasbami projects and art.
14-02-2018 pictures by Arno Hartensveld, text by Wouter Kloot