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XIII Leeuwarden
Artists’ Exchange

Nelke Mast

Conceptual artist and a self-titled Bimbo
Gender freedom in modern day Europe

This project strand offers short residency opportunities in partner cities for 30 emerging artists. Each UEO city partner will send two artists on a residency to another partner’s city of a different art form, thereby seeking to enrich their professional practice through inter-disciplinary residencies. Artists are chosen on the basis of having demonstrated an interest in the hosting city’s Arts & Society contemporary European theme. They must also practice a different art form from that of the hosting city’s public event. The project offers the emerging artists the opportunity to travel without the pressure to produce work and ideally to experience UEO’s public events.

Nelke Mast will travel to Dublin

Leeuwarden’s other artist Chiara Pastoor will travel to Derry-Donegal

Artists’ Statement

Through my work, I deep dive into the complexities of identity, exploring the intersections of gender, sexuality, and societal expectations (ugh… not those expectations… boring!). Drawing inspiration from feminist theory (yay Ursula K le Guin), queer philosophy (hear hear Judith Pamela Butler), and personal lived experiences (aha, the personal is political!), I aim to challenge established norms and empower individuals to embrace their authentic selves through the (de)construction of my own self (Listen, no piece of art can liberate a viewer unless it did not liberate its author first!). Right now I am doing that through the lens of the Bimbo. I am hugging this derogatory stereotype in all her honesty and aim to push the hyper-femme agenda. 

Bimbos are romantics and as Loving became an act of Resistance, it simultaneously became my tool of choice. The rebel move is to stay soft, stay open, and stay joyful, Miss Pamela Anderson told me once. Loving IS punk-‘n-political! Listen to these beautiful words of Miss Hooks:

“Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life… Life curves upward to a peak intensity, a high point of value and meaning, at which all its latent creative possibilities go into action and the person transcends themselves in encounter, response, and communion with another. It is for this that we came into the world- this communion and self transcendence. We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to each other in love. There is an emphasis on love as an active force that should lead us into greater communion with the world. Loving practice is not aimed at simply giving an individual greater life satisfaction; it is extolled as the primary way we end domination and oppression.”

“This important politicization of love is often absent from today’s writing” she continues. Bimbos are romantics… or did I already say that?… 

The world spins and I go around in circles, Ha-ha! I’m a Dizzy Blonde gibbering off into the setting sun…

Artists’ Biography

Nelke Mast (she/they), alias NELLY DANSEN, is a conceptual artist and a self-titled Bimbo born somewhere in a Frysian Forest and raised in a House of Punks. Nelke’s practice is primarily characterised by researching erotic capital and self-conceptualisation. She does this by making visual commentary on gender roles by deconstructing and re-establishing pre-dominant gendered sexual archetypes. Next to breaking down the Freudian Madonna vs. The Whore complex, is the question “NELLY DANSEN, a girl or a concept?” a force that powers her in her artistic, and almost anthropological, practice. Recently this has been done through the lens of the new age Bimbo. Nelke believes the 21st century Bimbo is the reincarnation of the 80s punk identity. Next to being a doctor in Bimboism, NELLY often feels like they are a Private Detective collecting clues. This Natural Born Archivist documents, basically almost everything, to understand how her position as a queer woman with a female-coded body in this world can add value. This is always done in an intertextual fashion accompanied with humour and a sense of Joie de Vivre – NELLY DANSEN always finds energy to get up to no good or to all the good there is! @nellydansen

More info

Artist’s instagram