Madelon Hooykaas

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Else Madelon Hooykaas (born 28 September 1942 in Maartensdijk) is a Dutch video artist, photographer and film maker. She makes films, sculptures, audio-video installations and has published several books.


Madelon Hooykaas grew up in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Before leaving for Paris in 1964, she studied under various Dutch photographers.

Madelon Hooykaas

In 1966 she was awarded the Europhot Prize for young photographers, as the Netherlands representative, and she then left for England to work on the photo project Along the Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury, inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. She remained in England as visiting student at the Ealing School of Art & Design in London.

Professionally what interested her was to make films and photography as vehicles for conceptual art and she made particular use of sequential photography. In Brussels she worked in a film laboratory and in Paris she was an assistant film production assistant before establishing herself as freelance photographer and film maker.

In 1968 she was awarded a travel scholarship by the Netherlands Ministry of the Arts to spend a year in the United States. In New York she worked as assistant to the photographers Philip Halsman and Bert Stern and had lessons from Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz. In California a meeting with Alan Watts formed the start of her lifelong interest in Zen Buddhism.

Back in the Netherlands, she moved to Amsterdam and started writing articles for the journal Foto, interviewing figures such as Robert Doisneau and Jacques Henri Lartigue. For a short while she worked as a portrait and fashion photographer, experimenting meanwhile with Polaroid photos in combination with texts; she also made silk screen prints in this period.

In 1970 she left for Japan to interview a number of photographers and with the aim of experiencing life in a Zen cloister. She was the first European woman to get permission to stay in a traditional monastery to take photographs. In 1971 her photo book Zazen, was published, for which she and the Dutch poet Bert Schierbeek compiled the texts. The publication of this book greatly enhanced her reputation and English and German editions followed.1 Five years later another book appeared, Death Shadow, for which Hooykaas made the photos and Schierbeek wrote the poem.2

In 1972 Madelon Hooykaas held solo exhibitions of her Polaroid experiments in Il Diaframma in Milan, and The Photographer’s Gallery in London.3 Her work plays with space and time.4 Photo works by Madelon Hooykaas form part of the permanent collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou/Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris) and the University of Leiden.

1972 also marked the start of her intensive collaboration in the field of film with the Scottish artist Elsa Stansfield, alternately in London and Amsterdam. Their first film, Een van die dagen [One of Those Days] was broadcast on Dutch TV in 1973. Under the name Stansfield/Hooykaas the artist pair produced their first video installations from 1975 onwards and acquired fame as European video pioneers. During their thirty-two years partnership they produced a good hundred and fifty works.

Their work deals with the relation between nature and spirituality and explores scientific principles and natural forces such as radio waves and magnetic fields. Hooykaas and Stansfield make use of contemporary technology such as film, audio and video in combination with organic materials such as sand, glass and copper. In their work they show that everything that exists is animated by movement and change.

Work by Stansfield/Hooykaas is included in various international museum collections, and in the Netherlands it was awarded the Judith Leyster Prize in 1996.

The installations and films of Hooykaas/Stansfield have been exhibited in many venues, for instance in Montreal, Sydney (Biennale), Chicago, Madrid, Reykjavik, Kassel (Documenta), Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Bremen, Hanover, Berlin, Washington D.C., Lucerne, London (Whitechapel Gallery), Toronto, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Tokyo, Stockholm, Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Dundee and Hafnarfjordur. At the Film Festival in Split, Croatia in 1999 they were awarded the Grand Prix for New Media for Person to Person (CD-ROM).

The interactive website Wishing Tree was realized in 2002 for the Center for Art and Technology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in collaboration with Rodrigo Cadiz and Brian Sarfatty.5

In 2004 Elsa Stansfield died unexpectedly. In the years that followed Madelon Hooykaas produced various video installations and audio works, both under the name Stansfield/Hooykaas and her own name, including Daydreaming and Haiku, the Art of the Present Moment, inspired by the poetry of Matsuo Bashō.

In 2009 Madelon Hooykaas again travelled to Japan to stay in a Zen monastery. In 2010 she made two films about this second visit – Zazen nu/Zazen now and Het Pad/The Path – and she published the photo book Zazen nu [Zazen now] with an essay by Nico Tydeman.6

In 2010 the book Revealing the Invisible – The Art of Stansfield/Hooykaas from Different Perspectives also appeared.7 This standard work about the oeuvre of Hooykaas and Stansfield contains international contributions by David F. Peat, Malcolm Dickson, Dorothea Franck, Nicole Gingras, Heiner Holtappels, Janneke Wesseling, Kitty Zijlmans and others.

For De Ketelfactory project space in Schiedam and for C.C.A. in Glasgow (Scotland) Madelon Hooykaas made the video installation and drawing Mount Analogue (2010), inspired by René Daumal's book Le Mont Analogue, on which Dorothea Franck wrote the essay Kunst en aandacht – Het beklimmen van Mount Analogue [Art and Mindfulness – Climbing Mount Analogue].8

Recent exhibitions and screenings of works by Stansfield/Hooykaas and by Madelon Hooykaas were held in Museum Gouda, the Netherlands, and C.C.A. and Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, Scotland (2010), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2011) and Biennale de Quebec, Canada, Museum of Religious Art in Uden and Japan Museum Siebold House, the Netherlands, and Tate Modern London (2012). In 2014 works of Elsa Stansfield/Madelon Hooykaas will be exhibited at 'The Invisible Force Behind' at Imai – inter media art institute9 within the Quadriennale Düsseldorf.10

Broadcast by the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation of Seeing in the Dark, in search of the last blind shamans in Japan on September 28, 2014 in the Netherlands.

Artist in Focus at the Buddhist Film Festival Europe on October 4, 5, 6, 2014 with the films: Haiku, the Art of the Present Moment, Mount Analogue and Seeing in the Dark and 20 photographs of her recent film at the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam.

Recent works[edit]

  • Re:vision, 2005, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, music composed by Frances-Marie Uitti, 30’
  • Lichtlijn / Line of Light, 2005, commissioned public sculpture, Schijndel, NL
  • Deep Looking I, 2005, single channel video installation, sound, 30’
  • Madelon’s Sundog Dance, 2005–2007, Madelon Hooykaas and Sandra Semchuk, single channel video, 6’
  • Daydreaming, 2006, video installation, sound, 9'
  • After Image / After Language I, 2006, Stansfield/Hooykaas and Chantal duPont, site-specific audio/video installation, sound, 6’, Montreal, CA
  • After Image / After Language II, 2006, sculpture and audio/video installation, Montreal, CA Daydreaming, 2006, video installation, sound, 9'
  • Winter Solstice, 2006, video projection on storefront, Gouda, NL
  • Listening in the Middle Point, audio work, 2006, 14’, Elfbergenpad/CBK Gelderland, Arnhem, NL
  • Haiku, The Art of the Present Moment, 2007, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, 30’
  • Haiku, The Art of the Present Moment I, 2007, 2-channel audio/video installation (version I: large sculpture in the form of a book)
  • Haiku, The Art of the Present Moment II, 2007, 2-channel audio/video installation (version II: large scroll)
  • Tree of Re:vision, 2007, digital photo work
  • Still Life, 2008, digital photo work
  • Wheel of Life, 2008, single channel video, sound, 2'
  • Spiral, 2009, light object/stage set, commissioned by modern dance group Leine Roebana, touring in the Netherlands
  • Zazen nu / Zazen Now, 2009, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, 30’
  • Het pad / The Path, 2010, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, 30’
  • Mount Analogue, 2010, single channel video installation with drawing, 6’48”
  • Revealing the Invisible I, 2011, triptych, drawing, hologram, photo, commissioned by the Department of Neurology, AMC, Amsterdam, NL
  • Revealing the Invisible II, 2011, drawing, hologram, photo
  • Something that seems to be very far... Sei Shōnogan, 2012, video sculpture, 5'09"
  • Feeling the Invisible, 2012, video installation with painting, sound, 6'57"
  • The Unknown Island, 2012, drawing
  • Underground, 2012, audio/video installation, 4'41"
  • Zij die zien in het donker/ Seeing in the dark, 2014, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, 30’
  • Connecting the invisible, 2014, single channel video, sound, 2’
  • Grid, 2015, single channel video-loop, sound, 3’52”
  • Light, 2015, single channel video-loop, sound, 8’39’’
  • Seeing in the dark, 2015, two screen audio/video installation, English version, sound, 13’23”/10’11”
  • Holy Isle, a Buddhist sanctuary, 2016, single channel video, Dutch and English version, sound, 30’
  • Virtual Walls I, 2017, single channel video-loop, sound, 7’33’’
  • Virtual Walls II, 2017, single channel video-loop, sound, 7’26’’
  • Buddha to be, a portrait of Sister Chan Khong, 2018, single channel video, sound, 30’

Recent exhibitions and performances[edit]

  • Installation Seeing the dark and performance Grid with live drawing, Experimental Intermedia in New York, March 13, 2015
  • Collection exhibition Contemporary Art with video-installation See through Lines (1978) by Stansfield/Hooykaas, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands 30-01-2015 till 20-09-2015
  • Lincoln Centre of Performing Arts Library, New York, presentation two video works, 19 March 2015
  • Museum for Religious Art, Uden, NL. Meditation with: Mount Analogue and Light made in commission for the Chapel, 01-10-2015 till 03-01-2016
  • The 1980s. Today’s Beginnings’ an alternative view on the 1980s with work by Stansfield/Hooykaas, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands 16-04-2016 till 25-09-2016
  • PLEASE TURN US ON, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland, Gallery 3, with What’s it to you? by Stansfield/Hooykaas, 28-07-2016 till 22-01-2017. Part II, 08-04-2017- till 31-05-2017
  • Reports from the Year of the Monkey, exhibition of works by Madelon Hooykaas, Saskia Janssen and Emily Bates at Punt WG, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Opening 30-04-2016, with performance Grid by Madelon Hooykaas
  • Performance with video projection and live drawing Virtual Walls I, Archivio Emily Harvey, Venice, Italia
  • Labyrinth of Lines, video installation and performance with video projection and live drawing Grid, Museum of Contemporary Art, Mu hka, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Nachtelijke dwaling #12 (nightly wandering # 12), Performance with video projection and live drawing, Virtual Walls II, Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Further reading[edit]

  • Else Madelon Hooykaas (photographs and diary) and Bert Schierbeek (essay) Zazen, 1971, N. Kluwer, Deventer; a German edition of Zazen was published in 1972 by Otto Wilhelm Barth Verlag, Weilheim Obb, BRD; and the English edition of Zazen in 1974 by Omen Press, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
  • Else Madelon Hooykaas / Bert Schierbeek Death Shadow, 1976, Fiz-Subverspress, Alkmaar. The poem Death Shadow [for Else Madelon Hooykaas] also appeared in: Bert Schierbeek De gedichten [The Poems], de Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2004, pp. 522–528.
  • Else Madelon Hooykaas 'Vita in Sequenza' in Il Diaframma no. 172, May 1972, p. 7.
  • Else Madelon Hooykaas 'Time, an Abstract Symbol' in Creative Camera no 99, September 1972, London, pp. 318–319.
  • De Boom in natuur, cultuur en religie, edited by Wouter Prins, Museum for Religieuze Kunst, Uden, ISBN 978-90-71647-00-0, p52-3, p57, p93.
  • Madelon Hooykaas (photographs and diary) and Nico Tydeman (essay) Zazen nu - Het dagelijks leven in een Japans zenklooster, 2010, Ankh-Hermes, Deventer.
  • Revealing the Invisible - The Art of Stansfield/Hooykaas from Different Perspectives, Edited by Madelon Hooykaas and Claire van Putten, 2010, de Buitenkant Publishers, Amsterdam.
  • Dorothea Franck 'Kunst en aandacht – Het beklimmen van Mount Analogue’ in: Stansfield/Hooykaas - Revealing the Invisible, De Ketelfactory, Schiedam, 2011, pp. 19–29.

External links[edit]