Dindi van der Hoek, artistname dindi. (1976, Gouda, The Netherlands) graduated in 1999 at the Willem de Kooning Art Academy Rotterdam. 

By shooting and situating her photographic scenes partially under water, Dindi develops a unique and distinctive photographic oeuvre. The movements and reflections of water and the optical distortions water causes, are an important base in the search for her imaginary and visual language.

With her staged underwater photography, dindi tries to capture and visualize the balance and duality of inner contradictions.

Dindi: “What appears to be fairytale aesthetic at first sight, behold forms of frustration and destruction at the same time. As a viewer, you are confronted with images that are simultaneously intimate and intimidating. This contradiction provides an unmistakable character to my work: the game and battle between the two egos, the good and the bad, the fate of human nature. I am intrigued by the investigation of the balance between the conscious and unconscious part of us, meaning ‘you see’ versus ‘you think what you see’. Our perception can be misleading and sometimes tempting and treacherous. I transform the human figures by dressing them in clothing that resembles a mythical world. As I have a background in fashion as well (graduate in Fashion and Clothing in 1995) I am able to design and make all these costumes myself. This allows me to control all intentions of my photographic work. There is only one thing I can not fully control and that is the impact of water. 

I work referring to sketches of a concept that almost always is an answer to previous creations. I did a lot of drawing and painting in the past. In fact I have not changed very much in my method of working compared to the way I did during my painting period. I work as a creative imaging artist and to that purpose I use photography as my medium. This medium is the last link to the final result. The approach is in fact equal to that of a painter. I also work in layers like painting in oil, I build up the image slowly. Either in my studio and under the water surface to finally make the finishing touch on the computer. The costumes (and in fact all auxiliary materials) I make or remake myself in my studio. In the first stadium of the image I work with live models and each model gets her own unique costume, atmosphere and universe. There is some kind of undulation in the working process from the first idea to the final picture.

In general I create 1 series of pictures a year, consisting of approximately 5-10 creations. The creative part, the start of a new series, is the most intensive period within the process. Fortunately it does not take too much time, a couple of weeks at the most, or else I would perish. The bombardment of images developing in my head is rather overwhelming and completely takes over my mind. So many hatches open, even those I never knew they existed. I force myself to halt this process enabling me to enter a new phase, also an interesting and a very active period, manufacturing all the staging auxiliaries, as well as shooting en searching spaces and backgrounds.

The third phase is photo-shooting the models with the costumes and auxiliaries applied, followed by the underwater shoots, which are both completely technical and emotional processes of letting loose  the original picture. The water takes over. Sometimes the costumes I worked on for weeks are hardly recognizable in the final image.

The last phase is the finishing on the computer in order to combine all the layers together to 1 image. In this process I try to control the influence of the water. It is always a battle within myself, searching for the right balance and thrill of the image.

Nowadays I more and more go beyond my working methodes of the past but still experimenting with water. I build a big waterbassin in my studio so I can more often experiment without needing a big swimming pool. It gives me also more options than before, I can for example use colored liquids in the water.

At first glance the images have an aesthetically attitude which appear to be less friendly when observed more carefully. This dual momentum and paradox returns in all my work, every time in a slightly different appearance. Water reflections are an important element in my work and, in fact the only element that I can’t fully control. The water makes sure that both of the staged image and the surrealistic water reflections are in an interesting and fascinating new balance. Water brings a certain spontaneity in my work and also surrealism and alienation of reality. What first looks like to be a fairy-tale-like aesthetically image gets a shape in which frustration and destruction dominate. The reality and the reflection keep each other in a sort of balance to create my own imaginary worlds.”

*All of my works are photographed with a Canon 5D Mark II, pictures are partly shot in my home photostudio and partly in a swimming pool. While doing that, my camera is covered in an Ikelite underwater housing and I use underwater flashlights combined with flashlights on the surface.

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