Meet: Mike Moonen

Mike Moonen (32) is one of the nominees for the Parkstad Limburg Prize. Mike is no stranger to SCHUNCK; just this spring he was in the store window of the Glaspaleis with his SCHWELLMANN AMBIANCE.  

If you were to describe Mike Moonen's work in one word, it would be 'disruptive' (or "dralt"). Because that's what he does with his art. "I like making new combinations of things we already know, and then making people stumble in their heads because of this," he explains. "That can be with images, sound, context, installations, whatever. Appreciating non-aesthetics, and embracing the rejected and useless are part of that. I come across that everywhere. Like, I'll name it, stuff on a windowsill. I then ask myself: was that put there deliberately? This surprises me and I take it into my work. This is how I turn recognisable situations into something completely different. What is normal anyway?"

Mike's work is diverse, and sometimes seems to go in all directions. Yet the starting point is always the same: playing with misunderstanding. "Making misunderstanding fascinating, that's what I want to do. The way I do that is often full of boorishness and clumsiness." When asked why anyone should choose his/her work, he replies dryly. "Well, they don't have to, haha. I don't have a standard story that sells my work. I do like to explain how I intended a work. Whether you like it then or not is up to you. It either does something, or it doesn't. And that's what it's doing, dude."

Mike probably has the most Limburg tongue of all the participants, "auwe". As such, he comes from the southernmost tip of the Netherlands: Vaals. After living both here and in Vijlen, he left for the art academy in Maastricht. Mike still lives in Maastricht, but will leave for Amsterdam in September for a two-year master's with The Dirty Art Department at the Sandberg Institute. A completely different field for the artist. "Until now, I have always lived in Limburg, which has shaped me - also creatively. It's a compact scene, with many peers and little competition. There are many people working on all kinds of things, but is enough space for everyone."

Growing up in a Limburg village meant for Mike that he had to discover a lot on his own. "Everything is quite safe there. There are few artists, and if there are, it's of a very different kind. But that safe environment made me learn to look at things differently. I marvelled at everything that deviated." It also formed a fertile environment for Mike precisely because of the scarcity in the cultural field. "You have to push harder and dive deeper to achieve something," he says.

As a rule, the artist often works with discarded items and materials, but he would also like to get to work with more expensive materials and techniques, precisely to see if that is even more larcenous. For instance, he would like to treat a Lamborghini like a piece of lego. A nice use for the cash prize should he win, he jokes.

At SCHUNCK, he shares the loft space with Floor Martens. In his section, he elaborates on his earlier work from the SCHUNCK store window. "But in a different light, and in 2D. There will be a maze that people can enter and there will be something to peek into. Other than that, I'm not giving anything away. People just have to come and see!"

You can visit the exhibition of the Parkstad Limburg Prize nominees from 30 October.