Jan Hoek

Jan Hoek

Photographers are generally eccentric people right? Jan Hoek proves that statement true. I mean….he basically wears a uniform, hosts a very exciting book club and has a lot of tattoos.

What is your full name? Where do you live and what is it like there?
Jan Hoek and I live in Amsterdam. It is comfortable and my friends live here, but it doesn't have the X-factor that the cities have where I normally do my projects such as Pattaya, Thailand or Lagos,Nigeria. In Amsterdam we do have cute canals and a red light district, but it's also very clean and touristy.

You are an artist. A writer, photographer and mixed media artist. When someone's granny or uncle asks you, "What do you do?". How do you answer?
I am also a baby sitter for already 19 years of the same boy! His name is Bruin and he has Downs Syndrome so I will babysit him forever. Every Monday evening we do cool stuff together, filling his room with pictures of sexy women, imitate fashion photo shoots or playing self created games.

To the uncle I normally say 'artist/photographer' or I just start talking about my last project.


How do you decide whether or not to bring your camera with you when you go out the door?
I always have the desire to cruise around with my camera on the streets, being a sort of a Diane Arbus, always on the hunt.

I did that for a few years, but it turned me crazy. I became so obsessed with it that I didn't could even shop for groceries anymore without forcing myself to invite myself into the house of this lady who was always talking to the pigeon's outside the shops. If I didn't do it, I felt so bad afterwards and thought I was the most lazy and scared photographer in the world.

Now I just take pictures for my current projects with my camera. For fun I take photo's with my mobile phone and sometimes they end up to be good as well. Those I use only for my Instagram.


How do you dress? Are you loud or subtle? Is there a staple item that you always wear?
I normally only wear training suits - preferably with matching top and bottom. My shoe taste is so bad that my friend Duran Lantink (the one who designed the vagina pants for Janelle Monáe) said he didn't want to be friends anymore if didn't throw away all my old shoes and give him the exclusive right to choose my shoes. Now I suddenly have Raf Simons shoes!


What is the last thing you wrote about that really got you excited?
It was for the (partly photographic) comic Mental Superpowers that I was making during a three months residency in a psychiatric hospital. I lived on an abandoned floor of the Kings County Hospital in New York and worked with clients from the psych unit. 

Together we made a dazzling comic about the idea that people with a different mind are the real superhero's of this planet. It contains text, photo comics, drawn comics….with many things made by patients from the hospital or in collaboration with them. Also, artists from outside the hospital who I consider brilliant, but who also struggle with mental health were welcome to contribute something.

I loved writing about this topic and writing about my own mental condition. And about the relationship between "crazy" and “brilliant”.


Describe your personal style with a movie title:
A mix between Melancholia, Nymphomania with a sauce of Nowhere (from Gregg Araki).

Do you have a hobbies? For example, are you into cooking, clubbing or crocheting?
I don't do clubbing anymore since I stopped drinking… but I do have a very exciting book club! We read a book every month and then we discuss it.


Do you collect anything? 
Yeah I collect self portraits from tattoo artists from all of the places I visit. So in each new country I ask a local tattoo artist to make a self portrait from his or her face on me. They have total freedom in how they want to portray theirselves. In the end, you can see how tattoo artists all over the world want to see themselves.

I have self portraits from tattoo artists from Lagos, Nairobi, Berlin, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, New York, Montréal, Seoul, Chiang-Mai, Taipei, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Marseille, Ventimiglia, Antwerp, Zürich, Kumasi, Schiedam, Genova.


Images courtesy of JAN HOEK


interview ASHLEY MUNNS

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