As an image-maker I always find myself at the intersection of politics, sociology, and history. I am interested in traumas that stem from my own family history, and research how they relate to a broader societal context.
In my work I shed light on my family structure, including the development of the family trees, the physical changed, and the traumas that are past on through generations, in a process that is also known under the scientific name epigenetics.
I focus on visualizing complex and under-discussed themes. With my work, I strive for a nuanced view on our collective history, making room for personal stories. I look at consciousness raising, and new perspectives that let us look once more at those things we thought were given.
For my project epigenetica (working title) I dive into past traumas in my family. In my previous work Der Himmler Auf Erden (link: http://naomikok.com/Der-Himmel-Auf-Erden) I researched my family history and what it means to be related to a war criminal. Herbertus Bikker, also known as ‘de Beul van Ommen’, escaped from prison de Koepel in Breda. His children - including my grandparents - consider their past and their relation to Bikker a family secret.
In my project epigenetica I focus on the ways in which trauma can be passed on through DNA. I research what DNA and genes mean for the society we live in, and visualize the traumas of my family and how they impact me. These are both “good” and “bad” genes, because a story is never clear cut, which is also the case for my family history.
What challenges have you faced making this work?
It is a challenge for me to tell a story that can’t be seen. I am researching how I can speak about genes and DNA in a visual way.
How are you going to develop this project further?
I am finalizing the research phase of my project, after I can start bringing together archival material and my own photography.
What has the Lighthouse program done for you?
The Lighthouse program allowed me to start working directly after graduation, and gave me a lot of practical experience from the get go.
“The feeling of shame kept growing as I got older, maybe because I didn’t have the courage to talk about it, not even family members”
“I didn’t have the courage to go outside, people could be looking at me and I was anxious that people would come up and talk to me. I don’t know if I could’ve defended myself at that time”
Together with neuroscientist and criminologist Jorim Tielbeek, visual maker Naomi Kok discusses her family history and the reason why DNA-research is so important to her.