Tiny Talks with Niels Noot

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Niels Noot from our tenth issue.

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Niels Noot: I think that for many who create there is this internal drive of I have to do this or I will go crazy, and however cliché that might be, I believe that is the case for me as well. This may sound quite paradoxical looking at that I just came out of a creative block that lasted almost half a year. With a new project I suddenly started – without a plan or idea – I am getting out of it. There is just another obstacle in my way now, that obstacle being the question of what my, or rather our responsibilities are as writers, artists, creators. And it is an obstacle I am slowly finding the answer to through the current text I am working on. Writing was initially a way of dealing with things for me personally, it was the personal I wrote about, but now my focus has shifted, and I find myself writing more about what is going on around me, in my city, country, the world. Édouard Louis was once asked about the political or societal aspect of his work, and his answer came down to ‘’How can I write about things that are not political, while there are so many bad things happening’’. In that light, it was a certain luxury I afforded myself to let the words I was able to put on a page not be about how action is needed. Now I do not afford myself that luxury anymore – it has now become the public through the personal. I would still go crazy if I would not write, but now it is because the guilt of inertia or inaction would be too much.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/  idols/ friends that you look up to?

Niels Noot: I There are so many great people who do truly amazing things everywhere, and I am trying to surround myself with the people that stimulate me, who constantly make me reconsider and reinvent my viewpoints and ideas. I will have to highlight some people around me, such as my dear colleague at Simulacrum Magazine Marta Pagliuca Pelacani, with whom I curated and edited the documenta issue, who has unending curiosity and the will to follow up on that curiosity. There is of course Jérémy Bernard, who, together with the rest of the editorial board, is fighting against the capitalistic tenets of publishing through Loose Dog Magazine and its admirable non-hierarchical and anarchic publishing practice. This has shown me the possibilities and has pushed me to start my own publishing practice. I cannot mention all, but in order to highlight some independent magazines that deserve the limelight, one cannot forget Arts of the Working Class and Solomiya Magazine. You can’t go around them in Europe during these times of war, upheaval, and social issues. They do a great job at standing up for those who need it, and continuing to highlight the beauty in the mess, the people.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Niels Noot: No natural entities for me, unless you can call a big frustration with the world right now a natural entity.

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Niels Noot: What I love about the creative process is that it always changes. I was talking to a writer recently who is also a father, and he said that when you are a father you cannot wait for inspiration to come to you because the ‘creative time’ is more limited. I, on the other hand, still have that ‘luxury’ of being able to wait around, so I change my surroundings and experiment with what events or things trigger any ideas, sentences, or words even that I can work with, and I try to make the most out of all this time I have right now.                       

Every time a work of mine appears somewhere it is such a big honour. Knowing that there will be people reading it – maybe, hopefully, it will have a positive influence on someone; knowing that all the late evenings and cigarettes and frustration and drafts are appreciated. Of course, it is, in some way, a wonderfully self-congratulatory and selfish thing to attach much meaning to a publication, posting it online and all, but that YES among the NOs does help occasionally in order to keep going.

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Niels Noot: Definitely! As mentioned briefly before, there is this new project I started working on, as a part of the collective publishing practice I started (MIASMA). The project is called The Complaint Project, and what we are trying to do now is collect as many complaints as possible and publish these, make them available in public spaces for people to take and read – or use as toilet paper if they disagree with the complaint. The complaints can be as small or as big as you want, they can be anonymous or with your name in full display. We launched the website recently and the complaints are rolling in, I wrote a manifesto, how cliché. But what happened is that for a long period the project just stood still, due to my inaction, and that was frustrating. So what I did was start this text, I don’t think there is a name for it. It is becoming a bit of a monster in the way it diverges everywhere. Perhaps it might become an exhibition text if the project comes that far, perhaps it disappears in the drawer, but for now the complaints are coming in and they are great to read. It shows that people are good, the kids are alright, and even though our western society looks so polarised on the surface, you see that they are very much connected in the problems they encounter. The whole topic of the complaint as a concept, and the urgency attached to it, calls for a theoretical framework in the ways they function nowadays. We might not always realise it but the conceptual object that floats in bureaucracy called the complaint illustrates and almost embodies some vital issues going on right now. Ourcomplaint nowadays is one against a certain entity or problem, but it always functions within and plays by the rules of those same entities. It has become a tool of appeasement, that is effectually futile, for people who can afford the time and futility in order to calm their minds. And that is where we come in, we skip the bureaucracy, we skip the filtering, and make all these complaints public and available for everyone who wants to. In very simplistic, and perhaps controversial, semantics we are practicing offline cancel culture of the commons – if cancel culture even exists.

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Niels Noot: Recently I have gone a little bit down a Foucault rabbit hole, so that is where my mind goes immediately. It is really interesting to learn about and recognise the power structures guiding – or fooling – us right now. Next to the classic Foucauldian power theory and how spaces influence us in that way as well, it is enlightening to read The Order of Things.

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Niels Noot: For the editorial and curatorial work I am involved in you can always take look a look at MIASMA (miasma.nl & @miasma_mag) and Simulacrum Magazine (simulacrum.nl & @simulacrum.magazine). Regarding the rest, The Complaint Project can be checked up on here miasma.nl/complaint-project, and everyone is always to shoot me a message @nielsnoot in case I am slacking with my work.