A Letter to Franco


Dear fellow crazy-one,

How to open this letter? With a glass of wine sounds good. Writing the opening of a letter is always the hardest part. Especially since this letter could be so important to me, but so easily overlooked by you.

Firstly, let me tell you why I’m writing you per se. The small world around me is collapsing like a house of cards and you’re one of the people who keep reminding me the world is so much bigger than the one I live in. I want you to know that you – the crazy, free and sassy person you are – inspire me. I see you creating worlds and having an awful lot of fun doing it. I aim to create worlds; be silly and work hard; be dumb and philosophize; be ugly and stunning; fight and be passionate; make mistakes and be brilliant; make life an adventure; be so weird, one part of the people thinks “What the fuck” and the other part feels inspired to add some weirdness as well. Not a lot of people here have dreams or take risks, but you inspire me to keep doing what I truly want to do and dream of that bigger world.


Never be afraid, occasionally be depressed, laugh your tongue out, cry your eyes out, but keep going and keep taking risks and once you’ll get that distant view of a place you want to go, you’ll know in what direction to go and what walls of rice pudding you have to eat through to reach the candy.

Fear of the future is something I – in contrast to the biggest part of the world – have always lacked. If you choose the course of your life based on this fear, you place yourself in a mental panic room and don’t usually choose what you would really want to do. We could feel somewhat jealous of people living a simpler, more servile life and seem to be happy doing it, but I doubt that most of these people really are as happy in their safe box as in our romanticized image of those people. For me it would at least be very unhealthy, if not fatal. The only thing I can do is doing what I love and work all the harder to keep doing just that. People around me only see the aspects that succeed and ask me ‘How come such a small town filmmaker or little photographer from the middle of nowhere pulls something like that off?’, with the exact tone you would expect such a sentence to be in. What they don’t see is that of a thousand seeds I sow, those two or three things sprout.

In the Netherlands the status of the artist is lower than that of a prostitute and I think that’s hilarious. What amazes me time and time again, are the amazingly low expectations people have of themselves and thus of me. When I say ‘I’m working on the scenario for my first feature film,’ people say ‘dream on.’ When I say ‘I’m writing Franco a letter’ they laugh uncomfortably – not knowing what to say – and when I say that I can’t do anything but to follow my passion and heart, they ask me how high my welfare is. Often I satisfy their stereotype image, by telling them that I make abstract clay statues and finger paint them and they’ll nod agreeingly with pity in their eyes. But when I tell them that my first assignment ever was for the Royal Palace, I independently photograph for Google or I made an absurd documentary ​​about my mother and her battle with cancer, it changes their whole attitude from condescending to submissive. They’re impressed without actually having to see any of my work. This is an experience that keeps amazing me. Pleasantries never aside, there once were two boys who fought over yours truly and a boyfriend came into existence. When, a week later, I got superficial, but sincerely cheerful ‘How does it feel to suddenly be popular’-like questions from other girls, I didn’t know how fast to put an end to this craziness.


If there’s something I want to do, but something is holding meback, I think ‘What would it look like in my biography?’ ‘What would the voice-over of life tell about this?’ And that makes my life more than my life, whereby I take the step after all. The realities I create must be so out of this world that they are totally of this world. Asking if I can send some work before editing, to me is just passive aggressiveness. It is not just work; it’s passion. My life. Me.

Imagine: you have to take a backpack filled with rocks on the bus and you see the bus coming – with a few hundred meters left to walk – so you run, catch it with no time to spare with no space to sit with a chauffeur that drives so roughly you have to bussurf, get out while the grips of the backpack snap so you have to carry it on your head, walk up eighty two flights of stairs, drop the backpack, let yourself freefall on the couch and then divinely feel all of your blood tickling the inside of your entire body and veins. That glorious last moment is what the step from the school of arts to working life felt like, while I heard that it was often close to traumatizing for others. I was terribly thrilled to finally get rid of those suspenders, which meant it was more likely that my pants would fall down. But I’m not afraid to show my butt.


Being awake. One of the recent data I cycled on my usual, long straight route to a destination that doesn’t matter and rhythmically pedaling I peered into the distance to the level crossing that closed itself beeping and flashing before the many cyclists who wanted to pass. While cycling I waited – together with the group of individuals before the track – until the train would pass, the red and white arms would resurrect and the finally darkening epileptic red lights would form the permission for us to risk the treacherous crossing. While cycling I directed my focus back on the asphalt moving beneath me, approaching the crossing. When I got there and looked up, the train was obviously long gone and keeping busy with something else, all cyclists were once again continuing their journey within their own bubble for so long that they had forgotten the wait for the train and more then ever I felt like being in multiple timelines simultaneously where everything and everyone moves in between and through and like seeing those other dimensions, while my physical time bubble is too slow to catch up to them.

People love to ‘chatter’ and I often hear: you always give such short, clear responses to directed questions about your work. I just don’t see the point in the ‘art world norm’ of truth avoiding, ego flattering, nonsense expanding beating around the bush and coming up with stories for those who should need to hear it and those who should have opinions about it. And I couldn’t. People seem embarrassed about how and why something just is the way it is and then are afraid to be too simple, thereby being just that. People even offer to help me to get rid of this. That said, when people are truly interested in what inspires me, I could converse and philosophize infinitely.

Being asleep. For my whole life I’ve been dreaming so incomprehensibly and vividly that I seem to have different lives. Using all the unavoidable to my advantage, I use my weirdest dreams to create my worlds. These are the thread in my first feature film, on which I’m still working, writing. Having learned nothing at my art school about launching work, the only things I have are my creativity, guts and courage to ask. I have a great urge to create worlds and will always continue to do so, learning always. So hereby I ask: I hope to have awakened some curiosity or interest and your response could mean a lot.


Sanne van Renesse


Art by Sanne van Renesse

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