It is hard to write an introduction for pages which do not exist yet. Usually these pages of a book are written last, when the contents of the book are known. It is the place where the reader is given an clue of what to expect, the place where acknowledgements are made. Only rarely do i read those pages thoroughly myself. I skip to the contents, the index and the bibliography. You might wanna do the same thing, so i can indulge myself here a little further.
It is hard to write an introduction to pages which do not yet exist. I did set out some guidelines for myself though. I will try to think of these pages as a public diary, a sketchbook. This will give me some freedom, not everything i do needs to be ‘perfect’ and ‘planned’. Ofcourse this is only to help myself, i am a terrible control freak, often prone to a paralysing doubt about what i do and its value. I actually thought i had given up my work for good; i had found a nice job where i feel happy enough, but quite suddenly i felt the need to rethink my old work, which i made when i was at artschool (’86-’91). The idea of combining my old work and the internet breathed new life in it. For a couple of months i was thinking about this new work. The main reason i would like this to be a sketchbook is that i realise i have to start making things. Its been quite some time since i’ve really worked and i know i have to go through the first disasters before i can come up with some quality – i hope. The internet is a nice fluid medium, where pages can appear and disappear in no time.
I am not sure how these pages will develop, i don’t know how frequent the updates will be. It might be less than i anticipate at this moment. Maybe, when you read this somewhere in the future, you will know more than i do now. Maybe than, where there is nothing now, there will be something for you to discover.
This text was published on 1 July 1997 on www.luna.nl/~ellen. In 1999 i moved my website to lfs.nl.
Looking back on my time spend working on lfs.nl, calling it a sketchbook was a good thing. Liberating. I could take breaks, days or weeks long. I could do anything i wanted.
I remember thinking that i would end it, someday. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know when. When i stopped, in 2006, i knew it wasn’t ended yet. The present i made in 2009, To do’s, was an impossible present in which i tried to get back to work. It failed.
In 2014 i simply started again. Making canvas presents. Writing. Making photos. Like i had never stopped. And then, in January 2015, i got the idea of making an about page.
Then the thought came up: this will be the last present.
I knew it. The moment i thought that, i knew it.
It took me a week to write the about page. The perfect ending. Not that what i wrote was all wisdom, hell no. But it fitted the sketchbook idea. It fitted with me, at that time. I had no idea what i was going to do next.
I didn’t know that in two weeks time i would start a blog. On ellenpronk.com. A domain i had registered years before. For which i had made several designs, none worked out. A domain i used for my work. Several subdomains of work for clients. Now, in two weeks, i had made a design and worked out the theme, started with a Blank WordPress Theme.
I knew i would post five updates a week. I loved making the Beauty posts, Food, Rotterdam. In summer i added a few more categories: My story, Songs. And finally Video Clips.
These clips are special to me. I loved how they came from my walks outside. I loved choosing the music for them.
In 1991 i finished art school. My final work were my selfportraits with the text Feel Me Fuck Me Free Me.
I really had no idea why i had made this. I remember having a halfway exhibition at art school with much more modest photos and texts. Comments from other people got me to try to be bolder and more in your face.
In the years after this i had a small assignment, an exhibition in Breda at Lokaal 01. But it wasn’t working. Not for me. I didn’t know what my work was about, why i made it. I was throwing things in the dark.
So when i found the chance to get a job, at a printer, i took it. One weekend of thinking about this and yes, i went for it. At least i was earning my own keep. And learning things. Living regularly, working with other people. We made a cd for Christmas one year, which was great. All songs written by colleagues. All instruments played by colleagues. Wonderful.
After five years i was done with it. I simply couldn’t continue. I stopped. I gave a great party, the Party of a Millennium. And i started a much more quiet job at a small design firm in Rotterdam.
Nine months after that i went to London. I actually got a job through my website. Which was a dream coming true. Well, i hoped it would be. The company went bust after around 6 months. But it also didn’t go that well. There was hardly any work. I was let go before the others. They extended my trial period. I did worry about that a bit. And yes, after two weeks i had the talk. Bye bye.
I got some small jobs in London. After a year or two i was back at the design company in Rotterdam.
I felt i had failed, to be honest.
I had only stopped making things for a couple of years. In 1997 i started making things for online. I didn’t call it art. I was simply enjoying myself. Flash was my first great discovery. I loved it! April 2000 i made Dream, which generated many visitors and responses.
I’m not sure why i stopped making presents in 2006. I had been going on for nine years. I could have stopped it then. I didn’t. I felt empty. No ideas were coming up. I had this to do list in 2009. Some of these to do’s i haven’t even done now. Five years of silence followed.
So here i am, on 14 April 2016.
This website, this blog, i love. The past year, five days a week, i made a post. I publish each post at 6:00 in the morning. This means i do most of the work the day before. I like it. It gives me a bit of time to think, a bit of time to reread, a bit of time to let it settle down. Not all posts are equally good. Like this week, View is a weak one. But that is fine.
So what do i want?
I could go back to work. It is not that bad. I make enough money that way.
But that is not what i want.
I love the walks. Around Rotterdam, on the beach, through the park. I love the talks with people i do not know. I love the smiles, the saying hello.
Right now my life is bare. A lot of time for myself. A lot of time to waste.
What do i want?
I wrote about my choice in life: a public life or a private life.
Then, exactly a year ago, i picked a public life. In my life since then nothing much has changed. Well, a few things have. I don’t have my old drawings anymore. That i actually gave them away is a big thing for me.
I still pick a public life. It is not that i want to become famous. That is more a byproduct. I want to meet people, talk with them, look at them, listen to them. I actually would love to travel a bit more. So far that has been low on my wish list. But i would love to see the world, get to know it a bit better. And talk about that here, on ellenpronk.com. As i already do now, but on a smaller scale.
I feel i am getting ready. A bit more. Not that i am perfectly quiet and still and prepared. It is more that i am less afraid. More curious. It is like, i was never that interested in the outside world before. I was just happy doing my own thing. I can still be like that. But i am more aware of what is going on outside. I’m not always right, but i do like to think and look and speak.
So is this art?
Most of the things i make can not be sold. Most of the things i make can not be owned by a single person. Some could be, i guess, but i will not sell them. So i do have to find a way to make a living, to earn money.
I could be a table lady at De wereld draait door.
I could have an article published in a newspaper.
Those two things have been on my mind this past year. I expect more will come to me soon. Hopefully.
I don’t know if this is art.
My favourite Dutch artist is Katinka Simonse, Tinkebell. She is couragous. Outspoken. Outgoing. Actually, she is all the things i would love to be.
I do need to find my own thing.
Well, i did find the songs and the video clips. I love love to make them. Especially the video clips. Wonderful.
I need to make some steps into the world.
I really really do.