The strength and fragility of life fascinate me. I use performance and the physicality of the human body as a vehicle to explore emotions. In particular, the restrictions that life imposes on us as a result of pain or exhaustion intrigue me. As a consequence of a debilitating car accident, I investigate feelings by challenging my body to a point that is no longer comfortable.
Sometimes, in order to confront a barrier, I blindfold myself, or impose a physical and mental constriction such as hanging myself in a harness. This limits me to move freely, for me it shows everybody has a certain background, patterns in life and physical borders, The harness represents this. The choices I make about my clothing or the objects I use, have ceremonial references. For example, when I use charcoal and crush it to dust, it is a reference to a Buddhist fire puja, but also ‘go to dust’ or ‘burn your bridges’. I use elements of Japanese culture to understand a feeling and what this means. When I hang myself in a harness, it refers to hanging oneself, a piece of meat hanging at a butcher’s or a parachutist. By using these ceremonial references as a framework, I research the extremities of physical and emotional duality. I take my very own strong and hard to deal with suppressed emotions and turn it into something graceful and elegant. An example of this is slowly crushing hardened charcoal with my hands, suspending myself from a beam and through the ensuing pain, creating a moving drawing with my feet.
I express my feelings and emotions in a way that it is not only an action but an interaction with the public or surroundings. I want the public to experience a certain feeling so they can open up and relate to their own emotions. If you can show your true colors, your disabilities and be vulnerable in your work, the development of the creative process becomes surprising and interesting. To me performance art is the most direct form of communication. In a poetic way, it enables me to manipulate and challenge emotions.
Danielle Brans was born in Nijmegen, The Netherlands in 1976.
As a child she could never sit still and was always dancing and making things. She has a background in ballet and fashion design. Brans received her BFA in Sculpture at the AKI Academy of Visual Arts and Design, Enschede. She won 2nd prize in the Body Design Contest and exhibited her work at the Centraal Museum Utrecht. She participated in performances of Bas Kosters, in Enschede, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and in New York.
During her years of study in Enschede, she decided to study abroad during her senior year in order to enrich herself and her art. She applied and was accepted to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Having access to one of the few available studio spaces gave her the opportunity to interact closely with fellow students and her art. She kept her focus on performance art, working with specialized instructors and visiting performance artists.
During her experience abroad, Brans did collaborations and presented performances at Boston events such asTest 6 and Mobius ArtRages Performance Festival as well as in New York City at the opening performance at The Politics of Care in the Whitney Museum of American Art. Angela Ellsworth, visiting artist at SMFA, asked her to participate in her performance at Performance Studies International Conference, Brown University, Providence, USA. Brans gave performances and taught workshops at the academy Non Grata in Pärnu in Estonia. Upon receiving a nomination for the Prize of Honor Techno cultures in ART, AIAS International Symposium, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. Brans traveled to Baltimore to collaborate with other nominees and present/exhibit her nominated work. She continues to work in performance and participates in visual art exhibitions in the Netherlands
A severe car accident canceled any plans to move to the western side of The Netherlands. This car accident made a big impact in her life, it influences particular performances and her concepts.
As an artist, Brans is versatile and works in different media such as printmaking, video, performance, drawing and sculpture. Precision, concentration and persistence define her way of working.
She currently lives in Nijmegen.