What does it mean and entail to be
alive - a human being?
I'm obsessed with being alive.
Yet mostly, I live in a state of forgetfulness and interruption;
questioning how I could be living life differently,
in a more complex way and (worst of all) ''better and more efficiently''.
Questioning how much I can control the course of my life,
and how much others are influencing my life.
Looking for timeless truths and contemporary dogmas.
Thus, my art is a documentation of my development as a human being.
Very ''po-mo'' right? Being both the researcher as well as the subject...
Ever in a sickeningly romantic attempt,
to reach the impossible goal, of being 'enlightened'.
And then, after yet another
ugly breakdown or surprise,
I finally escape the paradox through art.
- Only briefly -
And then, slightly transformed, I start all over again...
Working and living in Rotterdam (NL)
Stijn Huijts (director of the Bonnefanten Museum):
''Jessica van Deursen is an performance artist, who pushes the boundaries of the common fine-arts practice. Not only does she challenge the borders between her art and her personal life, she also challenges her own mental and physical limits. While questioning to what extend she can control the course of her life, and to what extend others are influencing her, and which role art can play in this investigation.
Van Deursen sees her art as a documentation of her development as a human being. During her performances, she confronts her audience with ritual or interactive happenings, through which she wants to stimulate her audience to become more aware of their own behaviour, thoughts and feelings.''
At the age of 17, Jessica moved to Rotterdam to study fine-arts at the Willem de Kooning academy, and to start a pop-up gallery together with fellow students called Downw_arts (2008-2013), for which she coordinated and curated many exhibitions.
Starting her fine-arts studies as a painter, but quickly evolving towards making performance art. And in that way, integrating her love for and experience with theatre and music, for which she had been taking classes from 2005 - 2008, into her fine-art performances. During her studies at the Willem de Kooning academy, she also took classes in philosophy from a.o. Henk Oosterling, Awee Prins and Jos de Mul at the Erasmus University, as the minor degree for her bachelor.
After graduating in 2012, she continued her studies at Codarts for her master's degree (2012-2014), in order to acquire more theatrical skills and knowlegde as a performer, yet again taking vocal, acting and singing classes. Here she wrote and published her book A Map to a World Called Performance Art as her final thesis.
Although her work could be read as a personal diary, its themes have become more political and socialy engaged since graduating. Firstly, this was expressed in her autonomous projects. But since 2018, she initiated the gesamtkunst collective Alter Moderna, for which she's the art director, composer and one of it's performers. Together they bring to live a alter modern and -all black and white- world, in which they lay bare criticical parallels between ancient, contemporary and maybe also futurist -but always all so human- repeating and self-defeating believes and traditions. Pointed out through music, video, performance and sculpture.
Since 2014, she also shares many of her (sometimes embarrassingly honest and 'too-ugly-to-be-blog-worthy') details from her personal life on her personal blog and vlog called Arty Farty Life, on which she examines how all kinds of small and daily proceedings, might become more than just banal methods of staying alive. She believes that the answer lies, in to be able to live autonomously, and also sustainably; from living a 'modern' vegan lifestyle, to testing and reviewing old fashioned methods and customs as it comes to making your own clothes, preserving food, and joining networks to exchange knowlegde, services and goods.
In 2016 she was rewarded the Young Talent Grand by the Mondriaan Foundation for her work.
Forthcoming and previous solo/duo exhibitions include Art Rotterdam (NL), Palazzo del Mora, Venice (IT), Pictura, Dordrecht (NL), KIPAF, Kolkata (IN), Concordia, Enschede (NL) Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (NL), pAIR, Kumasi (GH), Root Gallery, Rotterdam (NL) Defibrilator Performance Art Gallery, Chicago (US), Goethe Institut, Rotterdam (NL)
2012 - 2014 Ma of Arts, Community arts (specialisation in performance art), Codarts, Rotterdam
2008 - 2012 Ba of Arts, fine-arts, Willem de Kooning academy, Rotterdam
2011 - 2012 Minor Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam (as part of Ba fine-arts)
2002 - 2008 VWO, Emmauscollege, Rotterdam
2012 Masterclasses New Music Theatre, Codarts, Rotterdam
2007 - 2008 LOT course, preparatory training for theatre school, Hofpleintheater Rotterdam
2005 - 2008 Acting and singing classes at Jongerentheater Quint, SKVR and others
2019, Stichting Stokroos
2018, IBB CBK Rotterdam
2017, Snelloket, Gemeente Rotterdam
2016 - Mondriaan Foundation, Werkbijdrage Jong Talent (Young Talent Grant)
2012 - Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude Scolarship
2012 - Bekker la Bastide Fonds Scolarship