Siri Driessen studied Cultural Analysis and History at the University of Amsterdam, and Fine Arts at ArtEZ Arnhem. She focused on photography, nineteenth-century cultural history, and new media. She presented essays about mapping, new media and network culture at the New School University and the Medialab Prado in Madrid. Furthermore, she worked for the Prince Claus Fund, where she edited a three-monthly publication that aimed to connect the archive of the fund to the present.
Siri was interviewed by Adéla who received a very similar set of questions a year ago when she started her Non-fiction career. Using the same questions for every new intern can provide an interesting pallet of opinions on Non-fiction and our practices and help us to understand what we really do.
So Siri, you obtained research master in cultural analysis at University of Amsterdam but before you did two bachelors: history (University of Amsterdam) and fine arts (ArtEZ Arnhem). And you also play futsal! This produces an interesting fusion of a scholar, artist and sporty girl. How did this happen and which of these personas are you planning to develop the most in future?
Yes, an interesting fusion that gives me an identity crisis every now and then. But, of course, for me there is some logic in my choices. When I was studying fine arts, I was always more busy with doing research and coming up with ideas for others than with working on my own stuff. I am not someone who creates things just for the sake of creating – but I like to delve into things, find weird information and think about how to present this to others. That’s why I decided to study history. History is a very narrative study that makes you conscious about the way you read, write, tell and experience stories – which, for me, really connects it to practicing art. Cultural Analysis allowed me to deepen this connection: it makes you become a hardcore researcher, but it also asks you to pay attention to the way in which you present your ideas. And if your idea is better captured in for example a documentary than in an academically written piece, you’re permitted to do so. I really like that. It emphasizes how important it is to package your information well.
We always have difficulties describing our own practice to outsiders. How did you find out about us, and why did you decide to apply for this position? Could you describe our work in one sentence?
I knew about Non-fiction for a long time, but I can’t really remember how I came to it. I probably saw something on the internet that caught my attention. But I read your updates from time to time and I thought that they breathed a very open atmosphere. So that’s why I decided to join.
Non-fiction in one sentence: curious and enthusiastic cultural entrepreneurs?
Now that you have been here for a few weeks, could you say what you are hoping to get out of your period here?
Difficult. I am now mainly working for A Perfect Day, which is nice, but not a typical Non-fiction project. Mainly I just hope get more experience in initiating and executing cultural projects, in order to be able to do these things by myself. I’ve learned to be an artist and a scholar, and now I have to know how to carry out these skills.
Last question: is there anything you could advise us to do to improve our practice?
On the one hand I think that we can sometimes take stronger opinions. Don’t be afraid for politics. On the other hand I really appreciate the openness and flexibility of Non-fiction. So let’s go for safe: more lights in the office?