Students Doubts by Hedwig Houben
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Room for Doubts and Failures

C’est toi qui as changé – 5 – 

Being a learner, a student, a beginner, is a great place to be. Artists are exceptionally good at it.

For example, Dutch artist Hedwig Houben, who currently lives and works in Brussels, analyzes her own process and uses this analysis as a new moment of creation. The form that they take varies from lecture to public intervention, from sculpture to video.

In 2010, Hedwig Houben gave a workshop to a group of Fine Art students from the Willem the Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. This workshop was related to the exhibition Making is Thinking, curated by Zoe Gray, at Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art. The workshop focused on the failure of an artwork. Hedwig Houben asked the students why they thought the work had failed. During the workshop they would collectively look for new possibilities for the failed art works.

From this workshop Hedwig Houben made Students’ Doubts, the work is consisting of film recordings made during this workshop. Students’ Doubts plays on making doubt visible in the creative process. Art students express their thoughts over a failed artwork, while molding a piece of plasticine. Their words, however, are muted and insecurities are transposed to the object right in front of them. Hands and fingers nervously mold and compose without a clear purpose or shape in mind.

This work is not only about doubt and failure, but also about investigating the artistic process, since doubt and failure are important elements of the artistic process. And simultaneously of learning: to play, experiment, re-work, edit, fail, persist, flub, cry, smile, analyze, learn—and maybe, in the end, to succeed.


This blog post is part of the series C’est toi qui as changé dedicated to the topic of change, and subsequently, how art allows us to learn, to teach, to think, and thus, to improve ourselves.

Image: Hedwig Houben, video still of Students’ Doubts, video, 12:54 min (no audio), 2011. 
This video was made during a workshop with students from the Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam. In the final assembly of the film, the audio was removed, leaving only the image of the students’ hands interacting with the plasticine.

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