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Marco Naseman  

photo-based installations, tutor, arts coordinator, The Netherlands.

Detail from the installation, Reliekhouders
(Display cases for relics)
showing one of the 26 "displays", 2001.

The man portrayed here is Marco Naseman himself with two baby dolls displayed in the circular case. A lamp illuminates the entire object from within. The dolls refer to his own two year old twins.

I've been walking this planet for 50 years now and what has fascinated me most has been my fellow human beings. People are the strangest things on earth, and yet, the most interesting. People are unfathomable, inscrutable - nothing human is strange. Yet no person is as they are. Each plays a role - each day, each hour, each minute.

I call myself a "photo-designer" rather than a photographer. A photographer takes photographs of weddings, food, fashion and so on. In my heart and soul I am a designer, who happens to use the camera as my tool - perhaps because my father was a "real" photographer - but it could have been a paintbrush or chisel and all my photographs are printed as single unique prints. Years ago I did take photographs on assignment, purely for an income for my family. But that was never a success. I found it difficult to comply with the wishes of the client and photographed them or their product according to my vision. In 1986, one week before I began teaching photography at the Maastricht School of Visual Arts, I literally threw my last client out of the studio.

Detail from the installation,
Noli me Tangere, 1998.
An installation of 29 one-by-two-metre
digital photographic prints, foregrounded
by self-designed fittings, depicting the
history of a Catholic monastery.

"The world is a stage...." wrote Shakespeare and my goal is to confront humanity
- my 'public' - through my photographic lens. For me, a climax in this worldly theatre is the Catholic Church. Born in the Catholic South of the Netherlands, growing up in the shadow of the Maastricht basilica of "Our Lady", and being dragged to church every Sunday by my parents, has resulted in a mounting fascination with the repeating performance on the podium (the altar) in the church. I still find a Holy Mass, preferably with the "Three Gentlemen" (priests) and lots of incense, the pinnacle of theatrical gratification. No film, no play, no concert, can compare with this. And so my work is about the ultimate human theatrical expression: the (Catholic) role-play in its full form.

One example of this was an exhibition of an installation ('Noli me tangere' ) in 1998 of 29 one-by-two-metre digital photographic prints, foregrounded by self-designed fittings, depicting the history of a Catholic monastery. Currently I am working on an exhitition for Christmas 2002. It is a series of 26 display cases for relics (Reliekhouders ), incorporating steel, photographs, lighting and found objects. Sometimes I take 'normal' pictures, such as the recent photos of my youngest children, 20-month-old twins.

I teach in various departments of the art school and still find after 15 years of teaching that the first-year students are the most stimulating and challenging. For most students, I need to begin by explaining that the large glass is the front of the camera. Many have never worked with a single-lens reflex camera. At the end of the year, they are making photographic works that sometimes weigh 30 kilos or are metres long. I allow them to enjoy looking with new eyes at the reality everyone thinks they know.

Hot Kiss, unique photo print
(series of one as is all his work), 1992
by Marco Naseman.

The story of Eve, the apple and the snake,
70 x 100cm, triptych, 1991
by Marco Naseman.

Seven years ago, the former director of the academy asked me to consider developing a graduate organisation for our school, much like the alumni societies that exist in many universities. I began collecting information and on the basis of what I found I created the alumni society for the Maastricht Academy of Visual Arts. I realised that a society for graduates from an art school must be something quite different to one for graduates in economics or law. Graduates from our institute are artists or designers who are generally independently engaged in their ideas and projects.

Given this, it is a miracle that about 500 graduates are members of our society. The goals of the society are to provide a means of contact with the academy and with other graduates, through the exchange of information about assignments, work possibilities, subsidies, training, exhibitions, re-unions, lectures and so forth. In short, it provides a platform between the graduating student and "the world". We produce a magazine twice a year, which features articles on art and commerce, post-graduate opportunities, interviews with graduates and old teachers, prize winners and so on. In addition, about 250 copies are sent to museums, galeries, businesses, and institutes or organisations that have some relationship with the art academy.

The highlights of the society's activities are the exhibitions and projects that I organise together with member-volunteers. Alumni worked for a week on the Vrijhof (the famous central plain in Maastricht, surrounded by three basilica), with materials not usually accessible to graduates.

1997 Alumni Project,
Graduates worked for a few days in a central city square. Alumni member, Akos Zirahi is next to his sculpture.

Photo: J. Wassen.

Container Coup, Alumni Project to come...
Photo: J. Wassen.

In 1997, 60 tons of limestone was sculpted on that plain. In another year, 26 graduates worked for a week, each in, at or with a forty-feet steel sea-container, creating installations.

For another project, they made art out of recycled materials. The point of having the work in a public setting was to give the public the opportunity to experience the process of art-making and to provide a means for dialogue between the artists and the public. We have also organized annual exhibitions on various themes. In these exhibitions, design work is juxtaposed against conceptual-based interactive work or work in traditional media such as stone or oil on canvas.

The exhibitions are not just a show-case for the graduates, but also a way to provide the public with exposure to diverse approaches to the arts on a particular theme; for example, last year's show on the human body.

In this project, it was interesting that many members worked with old techniques, such as anatomical nude studies, rather than multi-media works. Another exhibition-project was located in various lounges of Maastricht hotels, during The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which is a world-famous event. Often, society members are offered work as a result of their projects or exhibitions. However, contact between the client and artist is always direct. Alumni doesn't get any fee or commission for helping artists to make connections. As a result of requests made on our website (, I often help members to get jobs teaching art at high schools and institutes for adult education.

I find managing the society's office very interesting. Years after having students as first years in my photography class, I encounter them now as designers or artists and see the surprising developments they have come to in their professions.

However my main passion is as a photographer in body and soul, who likes to hear the 'the kick of the click' each day!

Contact:         More of his work:

Alumni website:

  • Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, February 2002

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