StartPoint Prize 2015

Esther Hovers

The public space is ours, yet it belongs to someone. From the owner’s point of view, everything happening there turns into a performance. It seems that we still have to learn how to use this space, how to behave in it, so that it is living and "ours" but still gives freedom to others. The others are the observers who evaluate us, just like we do ourselves. An artist's view might also transform viewing street events into an observation full of details, as recorded e.g. by Robin van 't Haar or Paulien Oltheten. Esther Hovers is fascinated by how this arena of diverse interests becomes a place where it is determined what behaviour is still normal. The public space has changed from the meeting place of different groups into a place of maintaining security, where the most common gestures and movements are the most suspicious. Hovers deals with the topic partly documentarily. However, her photographs of deviant behaviour in the streets are most interesting. Layered records of standing, running or walking in one direction are so visually refined, colour-wise as well as composition-wise, that we forget for a moment that the artist has made us accomplices of the intrusive eye of the security cameras. (rv)