Along Linear Streets
Interview for TOURIST Magazine with Jan Rothuizen by Serena Adams
1. Who are you?
Aha! I am what surrounds me… a reflection/adaptation of my surroundings. But in my passport I am a male
2. Where do you live? this is easier to answer. Amsterdam
3. Where were you born? In a hospital room with light blue walls along a canal in the centre of the old town (Amsterdam)
4. What is a soft map? A map with information that is subjective
5. How many soft maps have you made so far?
I never counted. I did recently published the SOFT ATLAS of Amsterdam this contained 42 maps but I made much more
6. Where do you plan to make a soft map next?
Next week I will visit IKEA together with the person who thinks about the design and routing of these megastores, also next week I go to a small town in the south of Holland which is shrinking.
7. Are you mainly interested in cities?
I always like think of myself as a real outdoors person but its cities I visit read and think about.
8. What makes a city, a city? people
9. Why is this better than a traditional map? Its not better, but different.
10. When did you first begin making soft maps, and where does the idea come from?
It came from the fact I felt I was a better artist walking the street instead of sitting in my studio working on paintings, Yes I was trained as a painter
11. What do you use to draw them with?
I always work with a fountain pen and black Indian Ink
12. How do you see your soft maps being displayed? Are they art to be shown in a gallery or something more practical for the public to use?
Right now I am publishing monthly in our biggest national newspaper, besides this I publish books. I enjoy that my work is accessible outside the art world. Although I also show them in galleries and museums.
13. Are they more personal than public?
The maps you mean? Yes they are personal but I am also aware of my audience, just like a novelist I try to explain things.
14. What are the steps in making a soft map? Can anyone make one?
Yes when I teach I often ask students to make a drawings of their own room or the room they grew up in. Its amazing how much details are locked up inside us once you start digging.
15. Please tell us about the other art you create. Why do you do what you do?
Whoa that’s a big question, you could say my work was when I was younger more about how I and people in general look and perceive their selves. After I had my faith line extended by a plastic surgeon the perspective changed a bit, other people inhabit my work now much more.
16. Which materials do you use?
I use for ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ paper clippings from archives newspapers and magazines of people that looked like me. I have been buying homeless signs when I was living in New York. I work with photography, but most materials I use are light weight portable art that is!
17. Did you/do you study art?
Yes, I was a terrible student, ignorant and insecure, a difficult combination.
18. How many languages do you speak?
Two ( and some languages nobody understands but me..)
19. How do you define the ‘self’?
As something fragile fluid. 20. Do you believe we are made of many selves or only one self?
Yes I think I am many different persona’s
21. What was the result of your investigation into representations of the self in Self Collector?
You could say that after this investigation of how others look at me I realized language is very important once we don’t have a camera to reproduce images. The ability to describe somebody for a portrait artist is all about the ability to find the right words. It’s like talking about wine, you need definitions to describe things.
22. Is your art a way of understanding life, and yourself?
Absolutely, But not in a way to find answers.
23. Do you prefer working in black and white? it looks like it. Although I just did a series of really bright silkscreen’s
24. What is the effect of using black and white photographs rather than colour photographs?
I guess its a matter of taste, sometimes maybe its too artistic or romantic, but I don’t really think about this a lot .
25. Are there any artists that influence you?
I worked with Keith Haring when I was very young, strangely I think of his art recently again. There are fiction writers Like Jonathan Raban who wrote in 1974 a book called ‘Soft City’ about London. But also Somerset Maugham ( a writers notebook). Paul Auster’s Trilogy on New York, the drawings of Saul Steinberg,. 1.
26. Who do you see as your contemporaries?
David Schrigley’s work, Dave Eggers especially ‘what is the what’ and ‘Zeitoun’, but also Michael winterbottom’s movies. ( I don’t want to seem pretentious but Dave Eggers and also Winterbottom use their work sometimes also as a social/political tools.
27. Describe your typical day.
My son (2.5 years old) wakes us up around 7:30 I get up and make him breakfast, I take him to the Kindergarten and I am in my studio around 9:45 There is always things that need to be done yesterday, commissions appointments etc. I go home around 6. In the meantime I try to make a good mix of social things, visits calls appointments and the exclusion to do some work
28. What are you working on at the moment?
A new book.
29. Which is your favourite project?
All projects are one, and I really enjoy my job
30. Where is your favourite place in the world?
For food. Singapore, for driving Namibia, for fall Paris, for spring new York.
31. Do you think of yourself as a tourist?
Yes I like to be a tourist, wondering about the things surrounding me.