It’s actually difficult to categorize the Amsterdam-based Piet Langeveld. There’s her artistic practice that during its prime would range from video to sculptural works. Then there’s the way she leaves her apartment everyday, dressed in elaborate outfits that often consist of flashy sportswears, fake Louis Vuitton bags, long nails that are hard to dismiss especially because of their color.
When observing Langeveld from afar, it’s natural to experience a type of intimidation. In addition to the overall landscape of given confidence, there’s her sleek beauty that contributes to a general image of intangible humanness. Though, once coming face-to-face with Langeveld, whatever pre-set notions of unwarranted vanity quickly disappear, and the artist immediately gives way to her continuous, in-depth lightness. A brief dialogue on art, dressing, and fake brands.
Up until recently you worked as a full-time artist, then you decided to stop. You had briefly mentioned that you got sick of the environment. Can you share your thoughts a little more?
It wasn’t so much a decision to fully stop making art, but more about leisurely letting go of generally fixed ideas on how things should be done. I started practicing attention rather than art-making, a shift in perspective that allowed me to engage more freely with different fields of interest.
Fashion seems to be an important part of your identity. Are there certain things you’d like to express with the way you dress?
Not necessarily. Grooming is a valuable daily ritual and—apart from their practical functionality—clothing has an emotional functionality, too. Although I take great care in getting dressed, there’s no message per se. At best I hope to inspire to have fun, and not take yourself or public identity too serious. Wear crocks, it helps!
I guess I’ve always perceived your way of dressing as an elaborate act. You definitely put together an outfit, something that becomes easily visible within a place where most people tend to dress similarly generic. If you have any style inspiration, who do you generally identity with?
The hard-to-pinpoint types, those who don’t dress by the norm. They can be anyone, the dad, the tourist, the neighbour, usually the goofy ones. Also any type of uniform-wear, hunting, sport, religious, work-wear. Although seemly opposites, they share a form of vulnerability. Both letting go of codes that communicate a form of individual status.
In ways you perfectly embrace unisex style, gender fluidity. While there is androgyny to the way you often dress, certain female trademarks are pushed through. Like a fake Louis Vuitton bag, long pink nails…
My nails make me feel more cat like than feminine and my Louis Vuitton bag collection is a result of an ongoing fascination with (fake) brand symbolism. I guess I don’t consciously think much about gender. But I’m aware how certain objects can activate different energies, something I generally like to play around with. It’s alchemy really.
Can you expand on your fascination with fake brands? I find it quite fascinating myself, since it’s not about the product itself but mimicking a type of status.
Brands function as symbolic communication, codes that give us a quick idea of someone's place and status. The need to identify is part of our human nature. It becomes interesting when the codes are false, like an animal imitating another animal. I love the place between the real and the unreal. There are complete industries dedicated to the production of imitation objects, from fashion, art, antiques to technology.
There are the one-on-one imitations, same materials, same quality, they question the meaning of authenticity. And then there are the c-class imitations that take on a complete new designs, logo’s and colour ways (usually better than the original). There not even trying to resemble the original, they go beyond and become objects of desire, beautifully portraying a longing to another reality.
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