Interview with Stefanie Langenhovoven
Stefanie studied communication design, fine art, and photography at The Open Window School of Visual Communication, Pretoria (1999 – 2001). With a special interest in photography, she furthered her studies at the National College of Photography in Pretoria, where she graduated with a joint best portfolio award, (2004). After her studies, she started a commercial photography studio and was represented by Shine Photographers Johannesburg, (2005 – 2007). In 2008, Stefanie moved to the UK where she studied for a diploma in Transpersonal Integrative Psychotherapy at the Centre for Counseling and Psychotherapy Education in London, (2009 – 2013). This experience of an in-depth inquiry into the human psyche informs her work as a fine art photographer. In June 2015 Stefanie returned to South Africa. She has been a full-time artist since 2015. She participated in a number of a group exhibitions in galleries around South Africa, which include: Kalashnikov Gallery, DF Contemporary Gallery; Fried Contemporary Gallery; Priest Gallery; the KKNK (curated by Dead Bunny Society) and her work has been published in the online magazine Between 10 and 5 (2016 – 2017). She also exhibited her work in a group exhibition at Scope Miami beach for SeeMe (2018). Stefanie’s work has recently been published in the photographic Journal “Unvael Journal” which is a quarterly print journal that showcases a variety of unique and emerging artists from around the world, published by Michael Ash Smith (2018). Her work has been featured in online galleries and magazines which include: Casadiringhiera – work selected by Bastian Haus; Playtusu; Stellaremagazine; thetaxcollection; SeeMecommunity and Inspiration iii (2018). Stefanie has been collaborating with the music label Amselcom, her images will be used for an EP and the cover of the Artist Arutani (2018/19). Her work will also be published in the photographic print magazine Soundvision in the coming year (2019). Stefanie is being represented by DF Contemporary Gallery Cape Town and was an associated artist with the Dead Bunny Society, South Africa. She is a member of the SeeMe artists community.
– How do you briefly describe your artistic work to the casual inquirer?
I love how you talk about the concept of womanhood at the core. My work mainly focuses on women, and the way I represent the female body is unpolished and non-confining, challenging the patriarchy’s traditional feminine fantasy. So yes, womanhood is at the core of my work but I would even go so far as to say that I am delving deep into the feminine archetype of our collective unconscious. The feminine does not only relate to women but is part of the psyche of both women and men. I think the more we can
see ourselves as people consisting of feminine and masculine attributes, the less the one (men) will try to dominate the other (women). The feminine is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and it is clearly being demonstrated to us over and over again. Through my work, I am hoping to find and be a voice for the feminine.
-What is your primary medium(s), and medium(s) for the work being highlighted?
-As an artist, what do you value or enjoy most about your creative process?
The element of surprise, when I go into a shoot with a certain idea or vision but instead something else happens right in front of my eyes, and when I let that unfold, that is where the magic lies.
-What does art mean to you?
Art is vitally important to me in my daily life, it nourishes my soul. Making and appreciating art shows me and allows me to be completely and unapologetically myself. I truly believe that art heals.
-Where do you find your inspiration to create?
I have mainly found inspiration through deep internal inquiry during a psychotherapy process and especially paying attention to my dreams. During this process, I discovered just how much healing the feminine needs, and this is what inspired me to focus so much on the feminine. I am fascinated by the interplay between our internal and external realities and how this might manifest in making images through photography.
-What do you hope your audience gains from your art?
I hope that my audience really connects with my work, feels moved or touched by it somehow. Even if it makes them feel uncomfortable, in fact feeling uncomfortable is a good thing, as it brings us more in touch with feeling. I hope that it ignites some introspection and inspires dialogue.
-How do you set yourself apart from other artists?
I do not consciously try and set myself apart from other artists per se, but rather I try to be immersed in my own process and be as authentic as I can with what I feel moved to express. In a way letting my intuition and creative process guide me until what I see feels just right.
-What artists are you inspired by?
So many, but of the top of my head I love the work of Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Zanele Moholi, Yijun Liao, Elinor Carucci, Polly Penrose, Jillian Lochner, Jenny Saville, Marlene Dumas, Joyce Kubat, Marina Abramovic, and Ren Hang.
– What compelled you to pursue a partnership with SeeMe?
I really like the diversity of artists that SeeMe represents. It seems as though they care for the artists as individuals and value their work regardless of popularity. They seem to appreciate art for art’s sake.
-What do you value most about your partnership with SeeMe?
I appreciate that SeeMe does not try and box artists in to fit in with a certain style or brand that they’re trying to promote, but instead they encourage artists to be themselves and value their unique creations. I do really feel seen by this community.