English Version | Portfolio: A Trip to the Fifth Dimension

12 Jun 2023
By Maria Inês Pinto

This issue of Vogue Portugal may be dedicated to travel but, in life, the most important trip of all will always be only one: our inner journey. Or, as they say in the world of spirituality, the journey to the fifth dimension - and to those beyond it. That is what Belgian photographer and artist Simeon Van Der Hoeven taught us in this interview.

This issue of Vogue Portugal may be dedicated to travel but, in life, the most important trip of all will always be only one: our inner journey. Or, as they say in the world of spirituality, the journey to the fifth dimension - and to those beyond it. That is what Belgian photographer and artist Simeon Van Der Hoeven taught us in this interview.

“I would describe my childhood as very intuitive, exploratory, innocent and curious. Some experiences in my youth temporarily suppressed this view of me and I carried this into adulthood. I started using all kinds of different creative means to process abstract emotions and find a way back to myself in this chaotic world." This is how Simeon Van Der Hoeven begins by introducing himself, on his website. It was when he found art that his life began to change for the better, because in finding it he also discovered who he was and what his true purpose was. He is a multifaceted and dedicated artist, and although we gave him a very short deadline to answer our questions, he did so calmly and generously.

What inspired you to take these pictures? The largest inspiration I have constantly connected to is my own internal exploration and development. I experience life and my surroundings as a mirror of my own being and vice versa. I learn through a constant process of witnessing my external and internal environment; reacting to it, feeling emotions, meeting people and discovering new places. Embarking on a journey that prioritizes self-discovery and authenticity brings me to places that are hard to communicate with words. Since I was a small child, I have always had a rich inner and outer world and was looking for different ways to communicate my experiences. [...] With my visual work, I am not only trying to communicate some fundamental feelings and concepts of being human, but I try to invite viewers on their own inner journey of reflection. Throughout my life, I have been using different mediums to facilitate my own transformation, but over the last years, I have shifted that focus to facilitating healing in others. This was largely inspired by my work as a trauma-informed facilitator, physiotherapist, energetic bodyworker, and ceremony space holder. Visually, a lot of what I am creating is in direct alignment with what I was captivated by as a small child growing up. Planets, space, rocks and minerals, animals, nature, science and fantasy to name a few. 

Is there a particular location that has significantly influenced your photography? I started traveling and exploring the Nordic countries from a young age. Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have been some of my top favorite destinations. In places like these, I connect with the purity and rawness of nature and the universe. [...] Watching the Northern Lights, the Milky Way, and the sunrise and sunset was always inspiring and reconnecting to me. I rediscovered a part of myself, an opening, an alignment, something that was so familiar but I had lost along the journey of growing up. I often feel a deep sense of belonging, passion and excitement when I travel to these places. [...] I think being able to visit a lot of different places and learning along the journey is the meaning of true artistic freedom.

The theme of this issue of Vogue Portugal is related to travel. However, you merge the traditional concept of traveling - in a physical space - with spiritual and sacred journeys. Your work is, in a way, aligned with this notion. How did this project start? For me, there indeed are various forms of traveling. [...] Alongside physical travel there are also internal and spiritual forms of travel and learning. I have found that when I physically travel, I also experience the other forms of travel too, there is a unity between them. In the last 10 years, I have been exploring the internal journey more through various psychedelic medicines. These offer powerful catalysts for journeys inwards and travels to other dimensions than the ones we know. The same possibilities are open when getting into spiritual practices, movement and energetic bodywork. It is through working in these planes, that I started to create a very strong personal relationship with my own source of creation, showing me the most authentic way forward with myself and my art. I have personally experienced the strength and transformation that comes from facing your deepest fears and exploring all corners of your consciousness. I have dedicated my life to facilitating this same process in others through my art, therapeutic and healing practices. I believe that art has the possibility to transform lives if used in a conscious way. It is now my purpose to spread this to everyone that needs it, through working with people directly or communicating these concepts through my artistic work.

Can you share more about your creative process? Creativity is something infinite, but also something that doesn’t always seem to be at our disposal. I like to believe that creativity serves a purpose and that sometimes I want to be creative but it is not my time to be creating. Often something else is waiting for me, something I need to look at or work through, for the process to unfold itself again. For me, it is a process of listening. Often, I have the idea to want a lot of things and create from that space, but simultaneously I forget to listen to what creativity wants from me. I am merely a vessel for creation to express itself, not vice versa. [...] This is a constant process of self-reflection and reevaluating my intentions. Ironically, since I had this breakthrough moment, creativity seems to have become available almost instantaneously for me, and the more aligned I remain with my inner values, the more this is rewarded.

You are currently creating an organization that merges art, healing and spirituality… Since having these revelations about the sacredness of creativity, I discovered an internal fire to create something that could bring people together to learn and explore. An entity that could protect the integrity of these practices. This is when the Visionary Healing Arts Association was born. Healing is a topic that starts trending more and more, and you can see the environment shift for the good and the better. On one hand, healing practices reach more people, on the other hand, the integrity and safety of some approaches get lost along the way. I see a lot of people appropriate techniques, formats and philosophies without honouring or respecting the original values connected to it. This has an impact on the art itself and more importantly, the physical, emotional and mental safety of the people subjected to these misplaced practices. Last year I started to create the Enrootment Method, a multidimensional therapeutic approach that combines verbal techniques with energetic bodywork from a trauma-informed perspective. [...] From here, I am working on expanding and deepening the method further, integrating art into the methodologies. My goal with the Visionary Healing Arts Association is to create a platform for artists with pure intentions to spread and expand this work in a way that respects the integrity and commitment that comes with facilitating something like this [...]. 

Does your spiritual side influence and nurture your career as a photographer, or, on the contrary, has your career been a means to deepen your spirituality?When starting out, it definitely was my spiritual side that fuelled my artistic work. Over these past years, this balance has started to tip towards the other side. My career not only serves my own spiritual connection, but serves creativity and spirituality itself. From this place, I feel like I am making small steps towards a more authentic way of creating every day and personal and artistic success will be the consequence of those dedicated actions. 

Translated from the original on our The Voyage Issue, from June 2023.Full credits and stories on the print version.

Maria Inês Pinto By Maria Inês Pinto

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