documentation
2009 / 1000 BXL a conversation and work with Carme Nogueira. 'The places where we met' started as a research about places and about our different ways of approaching them. During the residency in Second Room in Brussels (three days of research, a week of working together) we used walking around (getting lost many times) as a starting point, but also as a form of research. In some way we always do that in our personal work.
This is how we started speaking about what to look for when we work and this is how the idea of “centre” became the issue.

Carme Nogueira and Dieuwertje Komen_ A CONVERSATION pdf

(d) You came up with the “centre”.

(c) Yes, but it was because you spoke about the channel. I think that when you want to approach a place, for example Brussels, you always want to find “important” places, to achieve the right thing to represent. This is why when you started to speak about the channel, I though that this structural place, this visible axis (we already knew the political and social importance of this place) doesn’t speak about uses but about representation, about the visible effects of an established order. I know it is easy to say but it is how we started thinking about our definition of “centre”. I wanted to deconstruct this line: the channel. When we spoke about the channel I remembered all small places that cross the channel or cross the main parts of the city. For me these small places are what I understand as a site: a social, physical and political place.

(d) I liked your idea about our search for new centres around the channel. I think it was a logical thing to do because we think that we recognize each other in the way we wander through places that we visit. 
It is difficult to explain why some places feel more important to me and become a subject; I think it has to do with a personal recognition. At the same time I want to understand them better, in capturing them in a picture I think I’ve found a tool to do so. 
And what about the centres we found? 
I remember that we started at Zennestraat because it is the place where we present our work, where the gallery is. I wonder if it was a coincidence.

(c) I don’t think so, I think we get the channel because it is constructed to be the place for the traffic (all kind of traffic: people, cars, public transport…) to be one of the main axis of the city, and also representative in a way.

(d) Also the channel, not the road, because it’s the structure of the channel what define the infrastructure. But also we speak about the channel dividing the city in two parts.

(c) This idea of the two parts, that in a way is true and very visible, was what took me out of the channel, because I think that it is very difficult to say anything about the channel, the two (or more) parts of the city. It is more easy for me to look for other spaces easily ‘to be own’.

(d) What do you mean? Because I think that I understand what you are saying but the idea of “easily be owned” is a very personal one. In fact we observed and we have seen some centres different from the ‘official ones’, but those are really social places, you can say… do you think this is a coincidence? Do people really meet in those places? Or do we just ‘like to think’ that these are the places where people meet.

(c) For me “Truth” (in capital letters) has nothing to do with my way of working. I don’t need to tell the central story; I don’t look for the real place, the real encounter or, for sure in my last works, the straight way of using the space. I don’t need to do a research in the academic way too. The centre doesn’t need to be a stable place. We can construct the centre. 
I really think that we always do that, in a conscious or unconscious way. Not only because when we look at things in this way we construct a centre (like I think you do this by taking a picture) but also because we act in the public space, in an outspoken way as I do, writing on the place my discoveries or in a more unconscious way.
 And also taking a picture is a way of acting, I feel.
The dialogue between us has also to do with this idea. For me it was a work about the “distance” between acting in a place (my work has always to do with this action) and looking at a place in using photography, the act of photographing. Telling what the space is after being there is always a very difficult thing but it is my work in a way. It is the problem that keeps me working. And I met you in this wondering.
 I wonder for example, what monumental photos are for you?

(d) Taking pictures is a way of collecting places that make me wonder about the way these places are constructed and the way people use them. My interest is based on an observation that first has to do with a personal recognition. I ask myself, can I live here? and if so, what is important to me and how would I feel? The decision-making of taking a picture of a specific place with a large format camera demands some concentration on the specific place to be documented. The act of photographing is important but for me this moment is not only within the second the picture is made. When I ‘document’ a place my attention for it has not necessary to do with the moment in time. I think I act because of the observations I’ve made before and the comparing of places I can do afterwards in the construction of the images I’ve made. 
I slowly discover that what I think is important in these constructed places are the traces people leave and the history and stories of place that become, I think, visible in the images. When I talk about monumental photo’s I think I refer to what images can become after they are made.

And in a way I recognize myself in you, when you explain that you are not seeking for the “Truth”. The importance of the photograph is the awareness of this specific place by turning it into a centre when I frame it and its possible subjective information it has after it is made.