Dwars door de Buurt, Amsterdam, February 24, 2001, monthly newspaper
Art in the Metro Station
Robert de Lange
This interview took place on February 2001 when a few artists - including Nikki Lindt - were exhibiting their work in an Amsterdam metro station, the Wibautstraat. Nikki's installation, "Acts of Exposure", was shown in a space located in the main hall of the station. The paintings hung from invisible threads suspended in air, rather than hanging on the wall. In her studio in the Pijp area Nikki explained the concept behind her art.
A subway station is not the typical space where artwork is exhibited. Do you think this is a good place to show the installation "Acts of Exposure"?
"I really like the idea of my work being exhibited in a metro station because it's such a public space. It's less isolated than in a gallery, and more people can see it. Because 'Acts of Exposure' is about people in a mass, the flow of people passing through the metro station represents the central idea in the installation. The idea of crowds and the interactions that take place between people within that crowd has very much influenced my work. The installation is a reflection of the groups of people passing by."
Can you go into more detail about the idea behind your art?
"My art is figurative. I am curious about human interaction and how people react to each other in a mass. 'Acts of Exposure' is part of a series that I've been working on for a couple of years. I started it in America where I grew up. A few years ago, I lived in a small town called New Haven. Everyday I went to the local Burger King to draw what I saw. Burger King is really a great meeting spot for a lot of different people.
When I started to work on this series I just came back from the Netherlands where I studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie for five years. Having been in a different culture I was able to look at the people in America with different eyes. I started to notice a lot of things I did not see before. Burger King was the ideal place for me to watch the way people interacted, and for a year I sketched and observed those interactions. That is how the series started. For two years I focused on gestures, on body language. Then I began to look at the faces. I thought I would only make a few portraits, but before I realized it I had made 80! They were all painted individually and in the beginning I considered them independent paintings. Later on I put the paintings together and suddenly I saw a crowd, a mass in front of me.
In daily life the way one person looks at someone else reveals something about their relationship. I tried to express this in the installation. For instance, if you hang these paintings in different places in the same room you see that each face's role changes as it's moved. The whole meaning can change based on that face's relationship with the faces surrounding it. In this way, the installation is about the individual as well as the role that individual plays in a larger crowd."
To become an artist is not an everyday decision. When was the first time you knew you wanted to be artist and how did you make it happen?
"From a very early age I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was always busy drawing or painting something. But one moment really stands out when I think back to how I got where I am today. When I was 14 or 15, I was sitting in the back seat of a car during a long trip with my father and grandmother. In the front of the car they were actively talking. I looked at my father's profile and suddenly an image came into my head that made sense to me but I could not express in words. At that very moment I started to draw it. I think from then on I started to think and see the world in another way, more as an artist."