Dear ladies and gentlemen of VICE,
Hereby an open application as an article writer and photographer at your distinctly independent, always deeper-than-usual company.
You could know me from previously published photos: http://www.vice.com/nl/read/mayhem4ever-in-w139
All of my life I’ve been inspired by my friends, family and the world around me. With open eyes, bouncing mind and iron will, I’ve killed off my fear for aimlessness and ever-pursuing boredom by setting goals for myself and always bearing down on them with all of the passion in my body. Goals that were and still are impossible in the eyes of the many people with low expectations of themselves – and therefore of others. The creation of parallel realities in film and photography and the expressively putting into words of an image, happening and emotion are what make my locomotive run. My life goal is being financially independent doing what I love.
My Life in a Pirate Ship
If I have to describe my life as simply as possible in a comparison, it would be a pirate ship you find in an amusement park: you’re standing on one end and feel the wind in your face and back; you see everything from the sky to the horizon and a second later your hair flies into your eyes and you’re heading towards the ground; you feel euphoric from the adrenaline and millions of butterflies seem to tickle the inside of your entire body and all of a sudden you’re starting to feel sick and puke onto your own face.
Never before I’ve felt an urge so strong as my urge to fill an empty sheet. With my head as a creaking, steadily running machine, I want to fill that page with what I see and feel around me. It’s an unignorable urge to let people see things through different eyes; to show how something ‘ugly’ is in fact beautiful. I’m fascinated by the idea that people can’t see something if they don’t know what it looks like, even if it’s right before their eyes.
I’ll describe in an abridged, yet roomy summary what my life looks like and thus where I get my inspiration and creativity.
I was born from a handsome long-haired father and a modelling, short-haired mother. My grandparents are original hippies: my grandmother’s got long, snow white hair and still skips through the garden daily with a basket under her arm and my grandfather’s got a long beard. When my friends and I learned the word ‘anilingus’, we walked into my grandparent’s house giggling. “What’s the matter?” “Hihihi.” “What’s up?” “Hihihi, anilingus.” “What about it?” “Hihi, arse licking.” “Yes I know what it is, but there’s nothing weird about that, is there? When you love each other, that’s just something you do.”
My grandfather’s father was professional soldier in Indonesia, he himself was partially raised by a housemaid and he’s been a captive in a Japanese internment camp. Now he’s getting older, more and more suppressed traumas and emotions are boiling up and I see him getting increasingly emotional each month. The circumstances in the camp were so bad: his grandmother was a cook, as a small boy he hid underneath her skirt the entire day and she secretly dropped rice onto the ground so he could eat it. That’s one of the reasons he survived. A laugh and a joke as his and stories as those from both of my grandparents – who crossed the world in a tiny car – are unparalleled and some of the reasons why many of my friends come with me to visit them.
My sweet, warm, hospitable, cooking-an-8-course-meal-each-visit mother about whom my friends ask when we’ll visit again with great regularity, was a heroine-addict when she was young, has stolen thousands of Euro’s of clothes, has cutting scars on her wrists, was nearly killed by a boyfriend and was infertile. Her doctor denied the possibility of her being pregnant and because of that she only found out when she was six months into it. When I needed to be born, I was already so cross I almost killed her. She heard the doctor ask my father “The mother or the child?”
When I was a toddler, my mother and I went on holiday to Tenerife. There she was offered a job she decided to take, so we stayed to eventually live there for three years. I can tell you one thing: a little light-blond child on the Canary Islands gets all the attention her little heart yearns for. And then I became ill: bronchitis. Medically they were very behind, so I got medication that was designed for adults and started to hallucinate: an endless infant trip. There were hands coming from the walls, I saw snakes instead of blankets and I could only sleep lying on top of my mother’s belly. We moved back to the Netherlands and the medication stopped, but the hallucinations, dreams and nightmares stayed. I accepted it and used it to ‘watch tv’ on the wall when I was in bed at night.
A Handful of Parents
The question of who took care of me when I was little remains unanswered, because my mother says my father was never there, according to my father everyone was there for me, my grandparents say they more or less raised me and from a recent encounter with my mother’s former best friend and his wife I could conclude I was their child for a while. Whatever the truth is, I’m grateful that this piece of my life’s history is so interesting and unpredictable and I feel like I have many parents more than anything else.
My Father, Mother and I on their best Friend’s Farm (my father with long blond hair; my mother on the top right)
Fuck that Depression
In primary school in the Netherlands I was horribly psychically bullied, by both my teacher and my classmates. A newly hired headmaster quickly realised what was going on. To give me a head-start, he invaded our classroom, told us that our school got to take part in the television program ZipZoo and that he’d selected me as a participant. When he set one foot outside the door, my teacher asked if everyone agreed about me being the one to go, to which a clear ‘no’ resounded through the classroom. Thereafter, he wrote my name on the board in massive letters above two columns: ‘pro’ and ‘con’. He let everyone in the class call out opinions freely. The board read: “SANNE: SLUG, SLOW, BORING”. But despite the fact that I cried myself to sleep for years, I had one goal: to go through schools and education as quick as possible and make that what I love so much into my work. And despite the hard, depressed periods I’ve gone through, I’ve never played with the thought of ending it all, for since I was a little girl I’ve been aware of how beautiful the world is and how many amazing experiences are yet to come. So this is what I did and I raced through the atheneum to art school as quick as I could.
Ever since I was little, I’ve taken music lessons: flute, piano, saxophone, acoustic guitar and bass guitar. I took seven years of theatre lessons and performed in theatres. For five years I played the bass guitar in a rock band as a doll among black-dressed, tough, long-haired metal-freaks and performed with them. My band members wrote the music and solos and my best friend – who drummed – and I the lyrics.
My group of friends then was special and exhibitionistic. The boys performed ‘helicopters dicks’, stretched their pricks because one of them had a really long one and the rest felt inferior, my best friend and I dressed up in thongs, fur coats and wore black tape over our nipples, the boys kissed each other on the mouth for bets and so we all laughed together until the tears rolled down our cheeks. We told each other the most personal things and said we loved one another as often as we could.
Epic Love Story 1
My life is full of epic love stories without happy endings and I do nothing but savour most of them. About love I was the stereotypical girl crying at her mothers kitchen table and sobbing “I’ll never find anyone, I’ll always be alone” and my mother the expected bringer of “You’re just to pretty and mysterious, boys are too afraid to talk to you”. During an Atheneum school trip in 2002 two boys suddenly started fighting over me and I into got a ‘candy relationship’ with the popular Remi. But after my first “How does it feel to be popular now?” I didn’t know just how fast to end it.
Even More Parents
My parents, Monique and Richard, split up when I was very young, but I had no issues with it. For a long time my father kept living in the attic above my mother’s house and during that time I – as an eight-year-old – yelled “Daddy’s right!” at every fight they had, knowing what a dominant, strong woman my mother and how impressionable my father was. Then, my mother had an affair with my current stepfather, Giel, who at the time was married and one of my father’s best friends. My parents definitively split up and I lived at my mother’s for half a week and at my father’s the other half. My father then got a girlfriend with a baby-boy; her name was Astrid; the same name as Giel’s ex-wife. I always enjoyed telling everyone that first it was ‘Giel and Astrid’ and ‘Richard and Monique’ and now ‘Richard and Astrid’ and ‘Giel and Monique’. The two couples were the best of friends and for many years I went on vacation with my four parents and little brother.
Bye Bye Babybrother
I was really looking forward to the possibility of seeing a little brother grow from a baby into a man and from when I was eight, during the most important growing period of my life, I had an extra mother and a brother for ten years. Until my attractive father started to go along with the attention he got from women too much, I had to comfort the crying Astrid on her bed as a child like I was her friend, she started being very unreasonable towards me, started to influence my father really badly and I stopped going home. Then my father got high telephone-bills and he found out she’d been having an affair with a Swede for months. She left for Sweden without saying goodbye to or seeking contact with me and took my little brother. I’ve seen them once since then and she wanted nothing to do with me. My father is an incredibly sweet, kind, but honest man whose door is open to everyone, whatever you may have done to him. He’s intrigued by Buddhism and with him you can philosophise with a good whiskey to the break of dawn. Now he has a wife and finally both my parents are married! Just not to each other 😉 With this other woman he got a son, Sam, with whom I differ 25 years and now I proudly get to call myself a godmother in every non-religous sense of the word.
Epic Love Story 2
In 2005 I was besotted with one of the popular skaters with his dark hair, brown eyes and caramel skin. Oh how many times my best friend and I sat in the sun on top of the little wall at the skate park, watching, and another girl made me laugh by saying: “You can just sit here watching, as long as you don’t forget they’re mine. All of them.” One night we spent the night at our regular bar with a small group and we were sitting in a sea of blankets and pillows, leaning against the stage, him next to me. Unexpectedly, I felt a finger poking my side and I held my laughter, until ‘completely unexpectedly’ ‘totally accidentally’ our hands touched and we held each others secretly underneath the blankets. All of us went up to the balcony. Suddenly I felt two arms around me and a head on my shoulder. I looked to my side and saw him. We went outside because it was time to go home and once outside, he threw a rope around me he found inside, pulled me towards him and pressed his lips onto mine. Frantically I held my lips pressed together and when our lips removed themselves from each other, I awkwardly and bluntly called out: “I’ve never kissed before!” He grabbed me tight in an embrace and in the anxious awareness I would have to french when I’d let it go, I held onto it for so shamefully long (hours, I bet) I’ve never had the courage to look him in the eye again.
On the Night in Question
For years my mother and Giel had screaming fights. Many nights when I was in bed, I woke up to their shouting and I didn’t understand how they couldn’t see how special it really is to have someone to love and who love them. This was the period I started writing, because I found out that adults don’t take a child that has something to say seriously. So I decided to bring all of my thoughts and vision on the world into words on paper and printed it. The next night, when all four of my parents were there and a discussion started, I decided to walk over and tell them I had something to read to them. I stood at the head of the table and read. You could hear a pin drop. I heard sniffing. Giel cried. The writer in me was born.
With Art School Friends | Right: making a straight Guy uncomfortable
Giel’s mother was born in a turf-hut in poverty. He’s got a daughter that just turned 17. He’s fought for her in court, paid alimony and sent her a birthday card every year. He’s the sweetest, most caring man I know who would drop everything if you need him and he’s never seen his daughter. His ex-wife told him he meant nothing more to her than a sperm-donor and all this time he thought his daughter just didn’t get to lay her eyes on his cards and had the illusion he didn’t think of her, until he got a hand-written card from her last year. Happy as a child, he opened it: “Quit stalking me.”
Me, Giel & my Mother | My father, Giel & Ronny
Epic Love Story 3
In every school there are this attractive, popular boy and that alfa-girl that belong together and to whom the greater part looks up. But as an einzelgänger I wasn’t interested in these kind of statuses. In the spring of 2006 exactly this freshly single boy surprised me by asking me out. I was curious, so I said yes. Once at his home, we sat on the ground and he showed me his art, of which almost no-one knew: paintings, poems and recordings of his voice in music he wrote. After a couple of hours – I was sitting on the couch and he sat before me on the floor with a painting – he asked me if he could kiss me. I said yes. During a month, we saw a lot of each other. Another day when he walked me to the station, he kissed me goodbye. He kissed me a bloody nose (I had a nose-piercing), magically and charmingly pulled a new cotton handkerchief out from his pocket and gave it to me. “Keep it.” After a month we both realised our friendship was fun, but it didn’t excel that, so we agreed to be friends. We picnicked in the sun on a rug in the grass of his garden. He looked at me, moved towards me, I pulled up one eyebrow on top of a cynical little smile and he kissed me. I didn’t move a muscle and kept my eyes open. He removed his lips from mine, we looked at each other and we both burst out laughing. He then let me read in his book full of writings – something I knew was forbidden territory for the rest of the world.
Him | Me in the Fur Coat, Him & John
The Study Years
In the Atheneum, against boredom I started organising events with a small group. From 2005 to 2008 (my 16th – 19th) my festival ‘Hondsrock’ grew from garden party into a multi-day event in a theatre with music, theatre, movies, art and visitors from different countries. VPRO’s 3voor12 called us ‘the closing of the festival season’. During my years on Minerva, as a photographer I got to work for Art Amsterdam and the Jongeharten Festival.
In 2011 I graduated in film and photography with a movie documentary about my mother and ‘our battle’ with her cervical cancer. I’d gotten permission from the UMCG to film everything and everywhere. When my mother walked across the hall with her IV with chemo, we yelled “Tududuu! The Chemocar!” (the car that used to drive around our residential area to get our batteries) and because we were so caught up with humor and making the film, we felt more like the actors in our life than ourselves during this hard time. All filmmusic was recorded during an especially arranged living room concert with Tangarine, Case Mayfield, Gerhardt Heusinkveld (Beans & Fatback) and Greyhead.
From 2008 to 2014 I’ve travelled with friends at least once a year and experienced lots of weird things. Every group vacation, we went skinny dipping each night and we made a mini-documentary. Nine people we met on the train to the Czech Republic visited us in the Czechia where you can still see the bullet holes in every wall and from dusk till dawn the same two toothless men are sitting in a doorway with half a liter beer in hand. We had to take care of dinner and we ended up on a tennis court where they hadn’t seen a tourist in 35 years, served us all left-overs they could find in their freezers, proudly let us taste various home-brewed liquors and boozed up alongside us, we got new beer when we had ‘only’ 300ml left in our pints, and were chockfull and totally wasted when we had to pay €15 per person. The owner took us with him by car the next day to get groceries and finally we found out that the man serving us the entire night was only a member of the tennisclub and didn’t even work there.
Another journey I made was with my mother after her illness, in which we only used our bicycle and the train to travel through England and Schotland, we got a police-escort through the Yorkshire Dales because the cop was worried about two ladies on Dutch bicycles, we stayed in houses via Airbnb and because of that we ended up in the most imposing houses with the most interesting people.
One of the Houses we stayed | Folk Dancing because my Pants matched | The highest Spot in Edinburgh
Epic Love Story 4
In June 2006 my eye fell on a girlfriend’s handsome, interesting neighbour. On a warm day the five of us swam in the pool in his backyard and we started talking. The two of us remained inside the pool and we talked while I floated and he held up my legs. My hands touched the back of the pool and subtly he drifted me against it. Slowly he came closer through the warm water until my back was against the edge and we romantically had our first kiss in the pool.
Him and Jeroen I fake Kiss | Him at the Hair Dresser for the first Time in Years
Epic Love Story 5
A week later my best friend Jeroen – who had been openly in love with me for a year – kissed another girl and I unexpectedly felt insanely jealous. Completely confused, I told him I’d made a mistake and wanted to be with him after all. “Now you’re too late” he said. That night an antique Mini Cooper picked me up to go to a concert and my phone beeped: a message from Jeroen. “Yes”. The next day I went over to his place for a bit and secretly unscrewed the office chair he sat on. He fell ass first onto the ground, we laughed, looked each other in the eyes and if there could be a perfect movie moment to kiss each other, this was it. But I could only talk to epic love story 4 the next day and so of principles as I am, this couldn’t happen yet. We took each other’s virginity in a tea-light-filled house, at the same time as my two best friends who were in two other rooms with their boyfriends.
On that particular Night
We stayed together for nine years – two best friends – we helped each other and went through a lot. We’ve been really happy, but eventually we lapsed into a brother-sister relationship and nearly split up, until he became the youngest they’d ever seen to be diagnosed with colon cancer. I threw away everything that was me so I could sit at his sickbed every day. After extremely tough treatments and operations – in which they literally took out his organs, stirred a chemo bath inside his abdominal cavity and placed back his organs – he was cured and when he could stand on his own two feet again, we split up.
On the Intensive Care, Hours after the tough Operation
Go Go Go!
It would be a nightmare for me to do everything I do for somebody else and ever since I was little I saw so many secretly unhappy people in a romanticised view on small-town life, I swore to myself to never get stuck like that. I can’t bring into words just how many ‘You’re mad’s, ‘You’ll never pull it off’s and ‘How does a little photographer from Groningen get here’s I’ve had to ignore to get where I am now. After my graduation I’ve approached hundreds of companies with my portfolio and I got three important things out of that: The Royal Palace as my first paying customer; W139 as a returning customer causing my pictures to end up on VICE; and a collaboration with art-mediation company BooART, as a result of which I got to photograph people like Kim Feenstra, Robert Schoemacher, Marijke Helwegen and the eccentric Petra Heyboer and I got to collaborate with BNN.
At W139 I regularly got to taste the underground art scene in Amsterdam, from pretentious suits, dresses and high heels to dressed up extravagants and from openings of neat exhibitions to smoking marihuana and staying in a hotel room with the members of a German band.
Epic Love Story 6
I found a roommate in another Jeroen: a good friend of my best friend, who was head over heels in love with him. More and more I encouraged them to discover each other in my presence and steadily and with a lot of joy, we rolled into a love triangle and spent almost every day together.
After a couple of months Jeroen started to fall into a heavy depression and I took care of him in constant fear of his death, but when my friends and I were on the verge of taking measures because I couldn’t take it anymore, he sought help. More and more the naive, young, shy Jeroen proved to be intelligent, weird and broad-minded and I started to find him interesting. In fully transparent communication with and with the fiat of my best friend, we decided to give in to the unavoidable.
I work with Google as one of Europe’s first Google Trusted Photographers. I make Google Business Views: Street Views inside businesses. The greatest and most inspiring about this is I get to peek behind the curtains of so many different kinds of companies and speak to so many entrepreneurs – both growing as established – that understand me as an ambitious entrepreneur, because they have been where I am now. And it brought me the delicious realisation of how approachable people are, even if half the world looks up to them. Examples of businesses I did work for are Media Markt / Saturn, Hunkemöller, the Krasnapolsky and the Frisian Museum.
All of this has to lead to my final goal of squirming myself a way into the international film world as a filmmaker and scenario-writer. My first English-written scenario for a feature film – which I firstly plan to publish as a book – is nearly finished. I use the many dreams and nightmares I have left of my childhood as a thread through my worlds, stories and characters.
I do believe now you got to know me a little and I hope we can mean something to each other.