Vere van Gool
Vere van Gool Paris FRVere van Gool is wearing the Miniature Twist.
Over the past decade Dutch-born Vere Van Gool has lived in New York City, London and now Paris. She uses her global understanding of culture across her multidisciplinary work to create new conversations and evoke change. A firm believer that you become whom you surround yourself with, Vere is excited to be back in Europe where conversations and opinions feel authentic and engaging. Often looking for the curve of tension, we discussed her recent projects in publishing, her trip to an unimaginable desert as well as her thoughts on time and the constants in her ever-evolving state of self.
Interviewed by Sofia Nebiolo
Photography Huy Luong
- S As a new calendar year begins, I wonder, how do you approach time? In 2022 you worked on a calendar magazine called Futura Proxima. I am interested to hear about your work with this hybrid publication.
- V My role was Art Editor at Large and I was in charge of selecting the artists and the artists commissions. I had been writing for A Magazine Curated By and I think what that really allowed for me to do, in a world of opulence, was showcase that authenticity in art and commissioning art is so important. My good friend Dan Thawley, Editor in Chief of A Magazine Curated By, thought this would be a great project to collaborate on and we came up with the idea of responding to the theme of a new year but also to a time that we will never experience again. It was looking at the impossibility of predicting the future and how that can shake your imagination today.
- S Could you tell us more about your project for the Harvard LOEB Fellowship?
- V I recently worked with Harvard University on a book which brought together hundreds of oral histories of alumni who participated in the program from Theaster Gates to those now working in the White House. It is a truly fantastic group of people. However, we worked with an appointed graphic design team with whom we didn’t see eye to eye on the aesthetics. I see the visual aspect as very important to the overall message. I decided to take matters into my own hands and very much true to who I am and the projects that I do, on the day of the launch I went to FedEx and reprinted the book on regular white paper with black text, around 1800 pages, punched holes through it, got zip ties and made my own little publication. And that was so much more powerful than the bound text.
- S Do you find there is one constant in your multidisciplinary practice and if so what would it be?
- V I would say that my constant is thinking outside the box. I was born and raised that way. I went to a school called AA (Architectural Association) in London but I never designed a building. My graduating thesis was about how many buildings I could break into within a year. I learned that by breaking rules, you actually come to better understand what those rules are. Rules are often societal infrastructure and sometimes are about connections or interactions. When you step over rules and push boundaries, I find I better understand how you can change culture, people’s minds and ultimately inspire. Using art and culture to stretch your imagination about how things could be is how you create change. This is a constant whether I am writing an essay, curating an exhibition or consulting for curatorial strategy. It is very much about finding that curve of tension. Over the last year, I started my own studio where all of these different projects can live together. It was funny because on one hand I was working on the Harvard project that was so aesthetically unsatisfying and on the other hand consulting for the art department at Chanel; which is of the utmost about aesthetics. It was interesting to have these two projects at the same time of equal importance and equal intellectual value. In a strange way, I wish Harvard were more like Chanel and Chanel more like Harvard.
- S You recently organized a salon in honor of your essay about Gertrude Stein for the newly opened Jacqueline Sullivan Gallery. Can you tell us more about the essay? What are the similarities and differences between your salon of today and yesteryears?
- V I had a phone call with Jacqueline, the founder of Jacquline Sullivan Gallery, and in keeping with how I work, just a few minutes before, I started thinking about what to pitch because I really like ideas to come intuitively. I instantly thought that I would write about Gertrude’s salons and the actual building where they took place and how the design of that space is a hieroglyphic of culture and her legacy. Off I went to 27 Rue De Fleurus on my bike. It was a sunny day and I was thinking I would just stop by and try to explore. Remember I was saying my graduation thesis was on how many buildings I would break into? I figured I would wait until a neighbor left and just as the door was closing I would head inside. I brought my camera and I documented the entire building, climbing the same stairs as Stein, Picasso, Hemingway and Virginia Woolf. I like the idea of using history as a way to show people that what they do today is important because you will never know how influential it could be in the future. It is important to keep pushing boundaries and bringing people together. I felt this was also very much in line with how Jacqueline came to start her gallery. When the essay was in its making, I was thinking we should host a salon and do the same thing that I preach and that Gertrude Stein was doing; bringing together people from various disciplines to have organized conversations with an audience. And that is what it was. We hosted a salon in New York and I think what was most similar to what may have been the case at Gertrude Stein’s salons is that a lot of people came for real dialogue.
- S I was in awe of your recent trip to Uzbekistan. Can you tell me more about your experience there?
- V I have always been very interested in geography and travel. I have a really good friend that is from Kazakhstan whom I met at school in London. We both happened to have two weeks free in our schedules. We decided to fly out to a town in the middle of nowhere called Aktau and from there we went on a trip into the desert. There is a really beautiful old sand plateau called Ustyurt that used to be a part of the Tethys Sea. You can see the layering of earth shaped by the forces of water. There are seashells and fossils. It is untouched with nobody around. We camped there for three days surrounded by the wildest nature I have ever seen. We continued on to see beautiful old towns, ceramics and people along our trip. Traveling outside of the common tourist zones is a really good reminder, that like nature, unkempt culture can be so much more inspiring and educational than the expected routes. It was quite a wake-up call for me about my personal privilege. We entered a region that is a lot more complicated than I will ever be able to comprehend. There is a different religious context, societal context, and the way women are perceived is completely foreign to me. I think there are lessons to be learned by traveling but there is also a limit to how much freedom one should take to explore the world. I felt a little voyeuristic at times and I think it is healthy to feel that way. I am not hard on myself but I also think it is good to realize that when you are standing somewhere in a local community be it in Uzbekistan, Chile or a country that does not share the same values as where you are from, it is important to be very modest about your presence.
- S Where are you headed next?
- V I am really excited about my studio because it will allow me to better collaborate on various projects. Today a lot of my work stems from my past experiences. I write because I have written, I curate because I have curated. I want to curate for the writing and write for the curation and do strategy for the magazine and visuals for the university. I want to connect these different parts of myself and I think that is what makes for an interesting studio. It is also a more contemporary approach to today’s culture. The idea of a curator who just does curation is so old-fashioned. No writer I know just writes and no photographer just takes photos. It allows me to express myself authentically and act a bit more like, what do you call those little animals with a thousand legs?
- S A centipede?
- V Yes!