This 32-year-old Limburg (the southernmost province in the Netherlands) native is not only a performer, but also a surf instructor and fitness trainer. Besides working on her performances, she is currently on her way to becoming a certified personal trainer.
April 14, 2016 @ EETCAFÉ FESTINA LENTE, AMSTERDAM
HEE-SEUNG: Were you ok after drinking that much raw milk since you are lactose-intolerant? Clearly, I didn’t dare to try.
LIEN: Yes, It was fine, but kefir hangop (kefir curds) made with raw milk didn’t go so well. I’m actually curious what you thought of de Melksalon (an event presented by Sietske Klooster at Mediamatic Biotoop)?
HEE-SEUNG: Although I couldn’t participate in tasting and comparing (raw milk from five different farmers), I didn’t mind so much. I liked its intimate setting with the presence of farmers. It was also nice to see you in action (Lieneke did action painting reflecting different tastes). How did this come about?
LIEN: Siestske and I have known each other for quite some time. We grew up in the same town. Knowing me and what I do, she thought it could be interesting to take part in it. Yes, she knew about me being lactose-intolerant.
HEE-SEUNG: Do you think this action painting performance is relevant to what you are busy with at the moment?
LIEN: I would say so in a sense that…my mission is to create awareness about wellness and health.
HEE-SEUNG: It’s quite refreshing to hear someone saying “My mission is to do such and such.”
LIEN: You think so? I am a performer, but I am also a trainer. You might think, “Performance, performance art, health, training? That’s odd.” Having awareness about wellness and health is important. I think the most effective way of communicating this is through the medium of performance.
HEE-SEUNG: Seeing something once could be much more effective than hearing about it many times. You mean, in this sense?
LIEN: Not just that. I truly believe that if everybody would work on their mental issues through physical activity, the world could be a better place. Physical activity can be a lot of fun. Move! It can be cleansing. You use your body. You start training your body. Over the course of time, it becomes part of your daily life. I think building a routine is very important, and…
HEE-SEUNG: Is this what you are trying to convey through your performance?
LIEN: “Mission” could have been a strong word. Let me put it this way…it’s not like I have to convey something. It’s just that I like to explore different themes that are related to wellness and health. Simply, that’s what interests me. If my work inspires people to think about wellness and health, and also to be conscious about it, then great.
HEE-SEUNG: Perhaps, it has to do with having sensitivities towards certain foods, but you seem to be quite strict in terms of your diet. After hearing what wellness and health mean to you, it all seem to make sense.
LIEN: For me, it’s important to keep my body to perform / function at its best.
HEE-SEUNG: Whenever I crave junk food, I should think about what you’ve just said. Tell me about this upcoming project you have.
LIEN: It’s a music theatre project that includes performance, workshops and lectures.
HEE-SEUNG: How did you come up with this project? What’s the main concept?
LIEN: There is a specific theme, but I can’t mention it now. [smiling shyly]
HEE-SEUNG: A top secret?
LIEN: Yes! What I can tell you is that it will happen at Schouwburg Heerlen (one of the theatres that belong to Parkstad Limburg Theaters), and will be co-produced by Via Zuid and Intro in Situ. It was a big relief when I received a confirmation yesterday!
LIEN: It really took a long time to get to this point.
HEE-SEUNG: When did you initiate this?
LIEN: Putting out a performance is difficult. Finding a place that suits the project is really hard. I approached the theatre with this project and started talking to people in 2014. I basically spoke with everyone!
HEE-SEUNG: A long process. You were patient about it, and just kept going.
HEE-SEUNG: But why in Limburg?
LIEN: That’s where I am from, and Schouwburg Heerlen is where I saw my first music theatre performance. It made sense to start there. I have to see how this project goes, but I don’t want this to be a one day thing. I want this music theatre project to continue.
HEE-SEUNG: I understand that you don’t want to talk about what this project is about in detail. I must say, I’m quite curious. Can you tell me about your memories of this theatre? Or your theatre experience as a kid?
LIEN: When I was in high school, I hated being in high school. What saved me was theatre classes that I took outside school. I also played in a volleyball team. Without these activities, I couldn’t have managed this difficult period.
HEE-SEUNG: Theatre classes and volleyball! Being a performer and trainer!
LIEN: I always had a job in fitness / sporting activities. I had to fulfill my physical needs! Hm, it doesn’t sound right. It didn’t come out the way I intended. [laugh] Part of the reason I went to school in Den Haag (The Hague), apart from Image and Sound (interdisciplinary program at Royal Academy of Art, The Hague), was to be able to go surfing in the beach.
HEE-SEUNG: That’s fair. I first met you when I joined the Image and Sound department, but then you left the school after two years.
LIEN: I think I was too young for that program as it was very individual. You had to be independent because it didn’t have normal class structure.
HEE-SEUNG: Yes, more of an individual research program. After you left the school, did you go to a theatre school right away?
LIEN: No. I first went to study theatre science here at the University of Amsterdam. I am from Schin op Geul, a small town in between Heerlen and Maastricht. I wasn’t really exposed to lots of theatre and performance stuff. And my parents were not much into this medium either. So this theatre science study was really good for me. I really got to know and explore the medium. I also worked at a theatre doing different jobs including ushering and catering. It really gave me an opportunity to see everything in terms of what goes on at a theatre. I needed this period of absorbing. Afterwards, I went to join the master’s course in musical theatre.
HEE-SEUNG: Is music or sound an important aspect of your work?
LIEN: Yes, very much. You might be wondering “How about the performance for de Melksalon?” since there was no music. Actually, after the Melksalon performance, I’ve decided that no more performances without music! Talking about mixing senses—out of all the senses—it’s sound that I’m most sensitive to. It can really take over me…almost scary. It’s something that I always have a craving for. I need it every day. When it comes to my work, unlike other senses, I feel stuck without music. Although I sometimes collaborate with other artists, I consider a musician or musicians as my essential working partner.
HEE-SEUNG: Is physicality also what you look for in music?
LIEN: Definitely. I like all kinds of music ranging from the most primitive tribal rhythms to contemporary compositions. What counts for me is how it makes my body move. It could be in a very still or powerful explosive way. It could be everything inbetween. Among contemporary composers, I like David Lang for his delicate elegance. I find Simeon Ten Holt’s music mesmerizing…and of course, Philip Glass. But I also enjoy samba in the streets of Maastricht during carnivals! I remember really enjoying jazz and blues that my sister’s ex-boyfriend used to improvise on our piano when I was a kid. And there are a few spirited DJ’s who saved my life.
HEE-SEUNG: Are there performers who you find inspiring or you look up to?
LIEN: There are artists and performers from the 70’s who I think influential for the discipline (performance), but I don’t have a particular person that I draw inspiration from or try to refer to artistically. I find my inspiration from everyday life–things like the way somebody moves through rush hour traffic, movements of animals and… I also find athletes like our own national treasure, Johan Cruijff or wave surfers like Ry Craike and Sofia Mulanovich inspiring. It can also come from movies. Recently, I have discovered Luna Zimic Mijovic, who plays the masseuse in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” taking the movie to a whole other level with barely any text at all. And I like Vanessa Beecroft for the way she puts different bodies together. I really appreciate ballet works by Hans van Manen too.
HEE-SEUNG: I’m not familiar with some of these names, but I can see why you feel connected to them. Well, we need to stop now…time to go teach. How about you?
LIEN: I need to do some training.
HEE-SEUNG: Wellness and health!
More about Lieneke