Throughout the Summer Institute, we'll be bringing you Bite Sizes which is sort of an episodic mini studio visit where we get to know bits about what the participants are up to and a bit about themselves. In this episode, we speak with the Toronto-based reader, writer, Ph.D. candidate, and all around creative thinker Esmé Hogeveen.
Gathering from speaking with Hogeveen, her interests lie in what the art world can show about certain topics as it relates to culture, society, and politics more broadly. Thinking about tactics for looking seems to be an overarching approach for Hogeveen than looking at art through aesthetics. She describes further when asked about her focus on gendered ways of scrutiny: "I didn’t think about scrutiny as way to bring those topics together because it is a visual practice as well as cognitive one but it's been an interesting space into looking at the idea of who can and can’t scrutinize and who has the capacity to show descent in an optical way." Moving forward, she’s interested in the consequences of looking at scrutiny from a gendered outlook to more intersectional points. It is her way of accessing different outlets into the politics of looking and less so aesthetic concerns.
Hogeveen is firmly aware of how much has been said about ‘the gaze’ and though she is also adhering to that tradition, and is very much interested in it, she tasks herself into thinking about alternate strategies of viewing not just in conversation about disrupting the gaze. “I think scrutinizing is related to the gaze in many ways but I want to be careful about not putting it in a binary and not having it be reactionary. I think sometimes when we are trying to unpack a phenomenon that hasn’t been written about a whole lot it can be limiting to pull ourselves back into that” Hogeveen states. This self-reflexive disposition Hogeveen holds allows her to see where she is situated within this discourse but also really trace a line where she can both critique and make a useful contribution as opposed to being redundant. That said, she sees this rigorous self-analysis as at times tethering towards procrastination and maybe even a tad arrogant. “School is helpful in keeping me on track and checking myself. Do you really think you are that arrogant that your project is never going to be done? You know? It's psychologically much harder for me have no deadlines” Hogeveen asserts.
One marker for Hogeveen at the institute she explains is Chris Kraus' consistent insistence on knowing what you are talking about, and what the story your are trying to get across is. "I find that to be so refreshing. I think that is important for me in critical writing. Maybe you don’t know the answers but you should know the questions you are asking—and that can be looking ahead or looking backward. I don’t think I know where I stand - I think the idea of gendered ways of looking is so huge. I can always be doing more research on what my peers are doing I can always be doing research from what has been written in the past."
To end our conversation and because it was Hogeveen's first visit to Winnipeg, I asked her some of her highlights. "The infestation of worms here is pretty fascinating" she laughs. "I found one in my pocket the other day and I was like that is enough" she exclaims and chuckles. "Other highlights are the people here. Very friendly and kind.