This interview was first published in Dusza exhibition catalogue. Dusza by Ruudt Peters took place at Galeria Sztuki in Legnica, Poland, in April 2015
by Benedikt Fischer
August 25, 2017
Benedikt Fischer: There is an image that shows you as a kid, wearing a catholic priests outfit and reenacting a church scene.
I find that very unusuaI, I know nobody who did that.
Ruudt Peters: I stitched the chasuble myself as you can see, it’s very badly done. I was eight years old, I think, and I was fascinated and very serious. I made this wafer, circular bread, and gave it to my friends and they had to be VERY serious, otherwise I would slap them in the face. Be silent and so on, so it was a very serious play. But I think this play, and also the catholic upbringing, made me want to have a meaning and a background within pieces, in what I am doing. Without meaning there is no need. Why should you add a piece of jewellery to this world without any meaning? There is already so much shit in the world.
Would you say you are still religious?
I am religious. I feel that I have these rituals and I feel that I have this mystery, this feeling of mystery. I don’t like the church as an institution, that is not where it comes from. But there is something more than what we can see, that’s a belief, that’s what I believe in.
How do you see your work in relation to religion?
I think that if Geist1 and the soul are part of a piece it has a lot to do with religion, with what is inside of you.
Some series have a religious starting point. It may not be so visible in the end. But it’s about Buddhism or Judaism some people say hey, now you tick off another religion but that is not the way it goes. It’s maybe more alchemy and very dark, strange mystery of things. And in that whole path of searching I found some things, they pop up. And when they do I think well, I have to do something with it – or not.
I don’t want to be a fundamental Christian gay jewellery maker. When I made corpus, I had a huge fear that people would abandon me because of the fact that I made this crucifix. I had a big fear. I thought oh my God, what am I doing here. Because honestly, you can talk about Hinduism, Judaism, Kabbalah, blah blah blah, alchemy, but when it comes to your own religion, when it comes very close, CHRRR, they can fire you directly, because they can knock you down. And I was like,.. that was very very,.. I found it dangerous. And on the other hand I wanted to do it because it was something that was already there for years. It’s not only that I am talking about Christianity. I am talking about religion in general when I am doing something.
Do you than feel like the pieces you make are falling into a void? Religion doesn’t seem to play such a big role in our society any more.
There are two parts. One part is when I make a strictly religious connotation in my works, than it is yes. But the second I make the pieces more universal or try to make them more universal, that there is an emotional aspect to it, it’s readable by a bigger group of people. But maybe they don’t read into it what I am talking about. And that’s no problem for me. But the fact is that all these different religions are a certain kind of anthropological mirror of society.
But you are right that I see that there is – and I don’t want to say that out of my perspective of being a little bit older – but for me it is a pity that our society lost a lot of knowledge and spirituality by having the religion removed. So I think in one way it is true and the other way I see that usually on Sunday morning the church celebrates its mass at 11 and now the museum is opening at the same time and all the people run to the museums to get their transcendental input. Because they want something! But don’t call it God or whatever because that is too much. And another thing is that I realize, I am not going to church every week, but sometimes when I am going I think wow, this is fantastic, I am sitting there an hour and I am silent, I can reflect on my things. And what is it? It’s great to have one hour per week for reflection on your life. And now we are running, rushing, sunday markets are open, shops, blah blah blah.
A meaning! That’s what people are searching for, they are really searching for what is my life? Why am I here? Is it only for eating, drinking, working, sex? That’s it? No, I think there is something more. And that more is maybe soul.
How would you describe the soul in general?
In general it’s the unsaid thing. I can look at a thing and I can give a description of the piece, but than what is underneath, what is not said, you can not give that a mark, you can’t say hey, this is what it is – so the nonverbal inner part of a thing that speaks to you but what you can not describe – that’s where things start. That’s very difficult, because it is very different for a lot of people, what a soul is for you is for someone else no soul. Could be.
So for you it is something that you can’t intelligibly recognize but rather emotionally experience?
Yes. That it is an emotional experience and that it touches me. By touching I mean the way that I touch you and by touching you can become touched or the piece can guide you to certain kinds of thoughts – or different ones, that there are more layers, layers are very important. When the piece is only tack tack tack tack, than it’s also not universal in that case, cause than only one group of people can follow that thought. Than it becomes something else. I am very interested in someone else telling me about a totally unexpected part of my work.
If we are talking about the soul of a certain piece, would you say you give a part of your soul into it or does it get its soul independently? You are the maker, you leave an imprint.
Sure, I leave an imprint, but for me it’s too heavy and too loaded to say that I give a soul into a piece. It is like maybe you blow in it but it’s not that it starts a life. It’s like God who is giving life to Adam.
I am also not working on getting a soul in a piece, never. I don’t even think about it, maybe afterwards, sometimes after years I realize maybe that one, wow, has got it. So, ok, I think you can make work and you can design. And than it’s like a package, a nice package, the outer form. But I am less interested in the outer form, I am more interested in what is inside.
I come from a family of hairdressers and so they were only concerned with beauty. They say well, if my hair is beautiful than its perfect, than everything is perfect. And I thought: shit. On the strange subject of bezieling2, what is it than? I don’t know. I honestly can’t give an answer. I can only see when it is there. But when you want to get it in there, it never works. I think you can only create the conditions for making new work.
You can’t force it, there is no recipe?
No no. Well, the only recipe is working. The only recipe is go on, go on, go on and maybe there will be a kind of soul. Or there pops up a soul or there is a soul but to put a lot of energy or labour into a piece doesn’t give any result. It is good that you do it, but it’s not the fact that when you put a lot of energy into it you get a soul out of it. That doesn’t give that result. It’s something else. And what that else is, it is being aware, waking up, I am calling it intelligent-stupid. Because than you do things that you should not do and sometimes things happen, because of the fact that you are stupid. But you don’t have to do no procedures. You don’t follow the rules, afterwards you are surprised by your own hands and you think oh my God what have I done. The moment when I thought that this “Dusza”, this soul, is a fantastic subject, but shit, to give your exhibition the name soul, puh! puh! puh! This is heavy, because now I have to make a selection of what is a soul and what is not a soul. Pfewww. Good.
1 German word for “spirit”
2 bezieling is a dutch word,
which roughly translated means “to inspire“ or “inspirit“. Ziel means “soul”, and beziel means to “infuse” or “animate”, but bezieling is a verb that instils a god-like power, to bestow a soul onto an object. It is a fantastic Dutch word.