Laura Bouman is a Dutch Visual Artist with a focus on photography. She playfully investigates the bond between humans and vehicles through her work while integrating mixed mediums.
Could you share with us your journey into the world of photography and arts and what inspired you to start working with this medium?
At a young age, I was gifted a little camera from Aldi (the supermarket), and it instantly captivated me. It felt like I learned another language of expression that resonated with my thoughts and actions. From there it accelerated and the urge to photograph has never left my system. As my art practice also involves sculpture and installations, photography remains at the heart of my creative process and is often the start of a project.
How has growing up in a family that had a car and motorcycle garage shaped your perspective in art, particularly in the creation of ‘Fuel’?
Exploring different art forms and methodologies is an ongoing journey for me. However, it is recently that I discovered that there are many ways of doing and thinking from the vehicle subcultures that actually resonate with me more naturally in creating my art. My family has a hands-on approach to things, where curiosity drives them to discover, experiment, and create. You can compare it to a big puzzle where there is no sample image. By collecting all the pieces and trying them out, there will in the end appear a image. This way of doing this is how ‘Fuel’ is shaped. Also, upcycling is a method that is common in vehicle subcultures and became an important method for my work. And so, ‘Fuel’, is now being upcycled in my upcoming research.
Motorbike trips are a significant part of your family’s tradition. Could you share how these experiences have translated into your art and the creation of your project?
The trips are my embodied experiences that inspire me deeply. As well as in the moment itself and as a memory. For me, riding a motorcycle or sitting in the back of a car is a way to meditate and relax. These trips and events are routine in my daily life that offers the opportunity for observation. I do cherish these moments as a nourishment for my thoughts, allowing me to reflect and find inspiration.
You use several different mediums. Can you discuss your process and approach to combining photography, film, sculpture, books, and performance?
For a long time, photography has been my primary medium. However, when I started focusing on the subject of vehicles, I felt a strong need to show more and stimulate the senses in a different way beyond photography’s possibilities. As a result, I unconsciously started to use multiple mediums to express my work. Looking back, I find this approach fitting for my artistic process. Like a puzzle again, creating with different mediums different pieces that in the end shape together an installation. But as I mentioned before, even by exploring more new mediums, photography is often the heart of my work.
Which role did the book play in the whole project?
The book brought a lot of support when it comes to the research. Thoughts, observations, and research are written in it. It was a tool for me to occasionally look back at certain observations that were important in the process of creating. The book plays still a vital role in my work’s long-term development. It supports new research and allows me to build upon existing elements by creating new projects.
“A vehicle is not just a means of transport, but a character, a protagonist, a vessel of memories.” – Laura Bouman
The use of colour in your work is truly captivating. Can you talk a bit about your approach to using colour?
The colours used on vehicles and related objects from the 50s-80s era are incredibly appealing to me. I have a particular obsession with a specific orange colour of the favourite motorcycle of my dad. When it comes to creating my art, I do consider these interests, but I must admit that most of my colour decisions are made by intuition.
The comparison of the human body to vehicles is a fascinating concept. Can you share more about this metaphor and its significance in ‘Fuel’?
The vehicle being an extension of the body is a common concept. It fascinates me to delve deeper into its interconnections with various subjects. What does it truly mean for the vehicle to be an extension of our bodies? How has this relationship influenced humans over time? Moreover, how does society handle these developments? I am convinced that there are many issues tied to this notion and I do believe that exploring this idea could help us in understanding how we as humans, interact with objects and occupy space in this world. It is also related to our ability to control machines, aka technology. By exploring these comparisons I hope to raise essential questions or even give answers.
How have you translated your observations and experiences with vehicles into the depiction of human bodies in your art?
By taking the comparison very literally between the human and the vehicle. We often think this object stands far away from us while we actually act very directly with it. In the past, we relied on living organisms, the animal, to move us forward. This has left traces that still influence how we interact with vehicles today. Though non-living, vehicles become extensions of ourselves, controlled as if they were living beings. By directly comparing vehicles with humans, I explore these connections, revealing our historical and current interactions. Through these insights, I hope to contribute to future developments and offer new perspectives on our relationship with this machine aka technology.
You’ve said before that “a vehicle is not just a means of transport, but a character, a protagonist, a vessel of memories.” Could you expand on this idea and how it relates to the project?
There is a statement by Roland Barthes in an extract from Mythologies (1975) that is always present in the back of my mind, where he states that the car is an ultimate reflection of an era. It’s fascinating to witness how an object can reveal our attitudes and actions throughout history. Vehicles hold a lot of memories and development because of our direct engagement with them. They become like characters we shape ourselves. Considering that vehicles are extensions of ourselves, these development offer insights into our identity as a human and society. What does this vessel of memories reveal about who we are and what we do?
Are there any new projects on the way? If so, could you give us a small sneak peek?
I’m currently working on exciting new research and creating new work all related to the vehicle, also from upcycled previous work, but unfortunately, I can’t share it just yet. I hope to finalize everything around next June when I complete my Master’s studies.
For more information about Laura and her work check out:
Find Laura’s book ‘Fuel’ here: