By Imke Ruigrok

Caz Egelie (born in 1994, lives in Rotterdam, works in Utrecht) mixes visual arts with popular culture, the online world with the physical, and brings together performer and audience. Using historical and art-historical references, along with playful remakes, he questions authenticity and the extent to which one can claim, copy and reproduce.

Unusual marriages are made in his work. Painting, graphic elements, objects, costumes and actors tumble over each other in performances and installations. Visual arts can expand boundaries, more so than in our everyday lives.

Objects become actors, elements that in his work have momentum, return, and are constantly developing. Those who look closely will see these are familiar shapes that return time after time in Egelie’s work, such as Brancusi’s Column, or the egg, a symbol of fertility and power as well as vulnerability.

What is striking in his work is the hybrid performer,in which a strict distinction between man and woman has no role. ‘Gender is like a dressing-up box, from which we all choose to put on what we want.’ With clothing, we look for a way to express who we are or who we want to be. In Caz Egelie’s work, clothing has a performative character. You can regard heels, for example, as a type of theatre. Those who don heels literally elevate themselves and in doing so showcase themselves better. It is a display of power.

“Performance is a way of confronting people with their humanity. I want people to make decisions about the fact they are here. You can address people far more directly with a body. It means as an audience you can no longer be anonymous or pretend you’re not there. However uncomfortable that may be, you have to relate to the performance, there and then.”

In Caz Egelie’s wonderful and colourful world, generous frameworks evolve for historical and contemporary, original and imitation, and male and female, and hybrid identities are made possible.

Dress rehearsal (2019)

Dress rehearsal (2019)