Daphne van de Velde was one of the winners of our open call competition ‘Alone, Together.’ She experiments with different mediums, distorting and playing with photographs to protest the idealized body.

This year, Daphne van de Velde will graduate from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam. She has previously studied Dance and Architecture at the Academy of Architecture in Arnhem, and also graduated ArtEZ University of the Arts with installation and photography. 

On top of winning our competition ‘Alone, Together,’ she was recently nominated for the DuPho SO student 2020 award, selection of Dutch Photography 2020.


Daphne van de Velde

All images courtesy of Daphne van de Velde

Congrats! How did it feel when you got the email saying that you were one of our three winners of the open call?

It was great news! Unfortunately, my exam was canceled due to the virus. Very weird. It’s like running to the finish line, and just before the end, someone takes it away.

I kind of fell into a hole. I was very busy to get all the work done for the expo and my book, and suddenly it was no longer necessary. Just like everyone else, I sat dazed in my house, and then the message came that I had won this prize. It made me feel very happy. No exam, but other people who appreciate the work.


What were your reflections around the theme of Alone, Together? 

To the outside world, everyone was busy showing how social their lives were and how happy they were, but I think a lot of people were alone before the virus. People are born alone and die alone. Even though most people try to believe it’s different during their lives. 

When we had to go into isolation, everyone was suddenly in the same boat. Everyone had to stop running in the busy outside world and adapt and be content with what they found inside. That gives a feeling of togetherness. 

A friend of mine said it nicely. Because of an illness, she spent most of the past years inside, after the outbreak she said that it felt like the world had adapted to her – she didn’t feel as alone anymore.

Sleepers by Daphne van de Velde, winner of our open call competition Alone, Together

In your winning video Sleepers, three bodies are laying on a glass surface, seemingly sleeping, drawing the viewer in with slow, almost unnoticeable movements. What were your thoughts behind this particular piece? 

It is a protest against the idealized body. Everybody is flawed if you can compare yourself to the ideal screen body 24/7. A flat-screen body is free of physical reactions, unreal. A real body is touchable, vulnerable, and loses moisture – it tells its own story.

In this work, I have magnified the battle for the most ideal (makeable) body. In the future, parents will be able to choose their perfect children to order, that’s already going on right now. The bodies are waiting, as it were, as empty shells. As if they still have to be born. Like dolls with no soul or emotional life. They can’t connect or show affection. 

I made this video for my exam. The plan was to show the film in an installation. The film screen would be mounted under a full dance floor. On top of the screen, I wanted to place an aquarium filled with water. The bodies then seemed to lie under the floor to enhance the feeling of detachment even more. But the film also works without this installation.


Sleepers is a part of your ongoing project Worry About Moisture Escaping the Fruit? Could you tell us more about this project?

This project is about the makeable body in today’s reality. It is about our fixation on how we want to come across to the outside world.

We have become as thin as a screen. How do you shape yourself amidst the universal images that impose themselves on you everywhere, as norm and standard? It seems we are in the era of empty shells. 

Daphne van de Velde
Daphne van de Velde
Daphne van de Velde