Artist Statement: Phall (Ronald Bal)

At the core of my artistic journey, I explore collective sentiments in classical and contemporary design and architecture. My staged photography and live performances are inhabited by historical, usually contradictive ideals of Western European institutions that estrange the bare body. I work through narrative sequences, using environmental theater and digital photographic techniques to capture social behavior in surreal environments. These photographs are rendered on canvas or metal and rewritten with oil paint to illustrate notions of longing, alienation, fear, freedom and affection. The frames are reproductions of the found artworks on-site. 

In my work the performative element plays a central role in creating narrative structures for live performances and site-specific installations. As in a film, I use the architectural spaces as a scenographic stage, where the performer acts out a variety of scènes. In this way, I create a unique environment that weaves historical notions of place with personal actions of the moment. 

Having worked with homeless people and refugees for many years and currently living with Long-covid, I have seen both sides of the healthcare system.  With this experience in mind, I reimagine care as a cyborg matter – a fusion of human and machine. Where I question the classical distinction between art and remedy, inside and outside, the naked body and architecture, in iconic buildings like the Zonnestraal sanatorium and the Lovell House. That formed the base for modern architecture, and still dominates the interior gallery aesthetics today. I reproduce the atmospheric qualities of the interior by the concept of “curation” as a radical act, one that weaves individual exploration with the tapestry of community engagement, challenging us to see beyond the gaze and dive into collective experience where the audience eventually becomes part of the performance.

My academic path includes a BA in Fine Arts from ArtEZ (2006-2010), and a minor in political philosophy at the University of Utrecht, followed by a master’s Interior Architecture at The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and currently, a master’s Education in the Arts at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, where I am research Endurance Art as a pedagogical performative act within art institutions. My artistic contributions have been recognized with residencies at Sundaymorning@EKWC, Oisterwijk (2020), and the C. Rockefeller Center for the Contemporary Arts, Dresden (2019), alongside exhibitions across prestigious venues globally.

My work engages audiences in museums and project spaces worldwide, from the BIENALSUR in Buenos Aires  to the Bronx River Art Center in New York, and beyond, represented by galleries including Ron Mandos in Amsterdam and Edge Gallery in Dhaka. Recognition of my artistic innovation is evident through awards such as the first prize at the LISFE artist competition in Leiden, The Netherlands.

Beyond my own creations, I contribute to the artistic community through guest lectures across various international platforms and as founder of initiatives like the Open Performance Academy and Performance Art NL. My projects have garnered support from esteemed institutions such as the Mondriaan Fund, CBK Rotterdam (Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam), Stroom Den Haag and the Goethe Institute Netherlands, reflecting a commitment to fostering a vibrant dialogue between art and society. Next to being an artist I worked in asylums for the homeless and refugees across the Netherlands, where much of my inspiration related to the bare body comes from.

Performance-Installatie, Phall, Sundaymorning@EKWC

Photo: JiaoJiao Li, 2020

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