Willem Fermont is a restless man. His life is a quest: he observes, is underway. Not the goal is important, but being on the road. His life was tortuous. Originating from a simple, branded workers’ family, he worked all his life to himself and his surroundings. He worked in passing as an assistant metalworker at a metal factory in Germany, as a geography teacher, palaeontologist, geologist, coal researcher, head of a chemical laboratory, senior curator at the National Museum of Ethnology, to end up as an artist. His artworks are moults of the mind. When they are completed they are already behind him, as witnesses of the past. His experiences he saves, integrates them into new realities, visions. The meaning that such experiences once had fade over time. Time is a mental concept, past a reconstruction based on the present. Future is unknown, uncertain but irresistible.
For me, Willem is an extraordinary man from the beautiful village of Nuth in the Province of Limburg, in the South of the Netherlands. A peculiar man I have known for a long time, but only recently I got to know him better and better. Some time ago I came across a film documentary “The Outside Nobles” on the history of the family Fermont in Roermond in which Willem also participated. This inspired me to follow Willem’s everyday life and to produce a series of photographs of his life. The artworks that Willem created fascinated me at an early age when I was a regular guest of Willem’s wife Josje. I did not hesitate long and emailed Willem about my idea to follow him in his daily life and activities. Willem responded enthusiastically and almost immediately I started photographing. Together we decided to take a year for this project. I will therefore continue to monitor Willem in the near future.
Willem Fermont inspects a part of an artwork under construction: a lens from his Dream Time Warp 10 Voyager with which, as in dreams, it is potentially possible to travel faster than light. But in the meantime his eye focusses on the new, the unknown, the future. The unusual, the extraordinary is magnified and works like honey to a bee. In the background art is fading. A recent object: the "Sphinx" is just a little fuzzy recognizable. Older art work in the back fades even more, loses meaning. The windows in the background suggest a larger, underlying world: his roots, the world that shaped him, and was shaped partly by him. A receding world where he's been inseparably connected to. Because of the implicit time-axis the photograph is three-dimensional and can be read as a snapshot of history. The history of an artist. Or rather of a human. This way, time, space and motion is captured in a snapshot.
Documentary project: “Willem Fermont”