About | Lydia Burggraaf

My current visual practice is built of serial interventions in constant response to my community. For me, this community is defined both physically and emotionally and is represented by places, localities, and groups of people. I attempt to not go into communities with any preconception of relevant specialist knowledge instead, I am always attempting to engage in a knowledge exchange. I am interested in the moment when the roles of power dictated by place or situation are pushed into flux.

The first stage of my production process is conceptualized as preparatory research. Often through sustained boredom, mild irritation, or child-like mischief, I begin spending time in a location. During my occupation, I develop relationships with the existing community that could be made up of employees, users of available facilities or resources, or inhabitants (human or otherwise). These relationships help me build a complex understanding of the location, its utilized processes or intended functions and the interrelations between its occupants. Based on my explorations, I intervene into the places, attempting to complicate current practices or subvert its function in an effort to draw attention to issues or ideas not readily apparent. Though the work sometimes causes or mimics a breakdown within the location, it is never really my intention to leave the location in worse condition than when I found it.

Conceptually, the artwork exists in the moments when for many or for few, for art-world audiences or for the security guard, the interrelationships between people, creatures, and location focus on a different point. Through role-playing, parody, and gentle teasing, I am attempting to shed light on the political complexity of a particular practice or situation. It is not my intention to remodel the system – I am simply hoping, for a moment, to more clearly define a small part of the larger picture. When the larger picture returns to focus, while the insignificant remains a blurry edge, some will still remember sort of, maybe what the small shift in perspective looks like.

Collaboration has recently played an increasingly important role in my practice. Most generally, I am interested in the way in which collaboration undermines my status as the artist within the context of the modernist tradition, a status I associate with the power roles I am attempting to subvert as described earlier. Additionally, other more subtle shifts occur in the various forms of collaboration I participate in. Cross-disciplinary collaboration facilitates an exchange of professionalized skills - in the case of my current practice, an exchange between artists and ornithologists. Existing within the expanded field of art, the work has the potential to become increasingly relevant to a wider audience. I am also interested in the potential of collaborating with audiences.

The subtext of these local interventions is a critical challenge of the modernist conception of art but I am conscientious of the irony in this statement. In an effort to create artwork that is more accessible while maintaining its value, I am interested in presenting in alternative forms and venues. However embedded in this effort, I am actually making art that’s content is partly a criticism of itself and therefore inaccessible. I am attempting to challenge this paradox by addressing issues directly relevant to the audience or location.


© JoAnna 2015