Hendrik Kerstens’s life-time project of photographing his daughter ‘Paula’ as a reminiscent of the portraits from the Dutch Golden Age, in a way of expressing his paternal love and in a conceptual and humorous dialog between the daily life in the 17th and in 21st century.
Hendrik Kerstens – Paula
It’s all started in 1995 when Hendrik Kerstens, then at the age of forty, willing to devote himself to a more creative profession, left the business world and took up photography. His wife now had to support the family, whilst Kerstens stay home learning the craft and taking care for their child. For practicing to capture the fleeting moments of childhood, he started with documentary family snapshots, when suddenly he saw his muse from a different perspective.
“One day Paula came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch masters and I portrayed her in that fashion. After that I started to do more portraits in which I refer to the paintings of that era. The thing that fascinates me in particular is the way a 17th century painting is seen as a surface which can be read as a description of everyday life as opposed to the paintings of the Italian renaissance, which usually tell a story. Northern European painting relies much more on craftsmanship and the perfect rendition of the subject. The use of light is instrumental in this.”
Olaf Otto Becker’s project ‘Reading the Landscape’ – juxtaposing the changes to landscape in the primary forests of Indonesia and Malaysia in three Habitat series – idyllic dreamlike places, ravaged, barren terrains and artificially created greenery. And all as a result of the paradox of the power and interests of the western world to destroy and preserve nature.
Olaf Otto Becker – Reading the Landscape – Habitat I
“Humans destroy primary forests, which have been growing for millions of years, within decades. Within the last thirty years almost ninety percent of the forests in Indonesia have been destroyed and replaced by monoculture. At the same time, humans create a version of nature according to their own imaginations in the megacities of the world, turning nature into a product… My pictures and videos are an attempt to report on what I’ve experienced, on what I’ve seen with my own eyes and what has, for that reason, deeply moved me… While researching the subject, it first seemed to me almost paradoxical that the so-called western world was behind both the destruction of the primary habitats and the attempts to protect them. I saw how both sides in the conflict were using impoverished and poorly-educated local populations for their own interests. For the most part, local people can only powerlessly watch as these dramatic changes take place.”
Olaf Otto Becker – Reading the Landscape – Habitat II
Paul Hart’s series ‘Truncated’ (2005 – 2008) – through individual portraits of trees depicting their characters and personalities, the artist captured the spirituality, the primeval and the mystery of an ageing pine forest plantation in Derbyshire, England, as an unaffected by the modern world place of inner peace and infinity.
Paul Hart – Truncated
“A lot of these pictures were taken towards the end of the day when the light was going. It is quite ethereal then. The twilight in the forest appeared to be glowing on the branches of these trees, but only the branches – everything else was quite dark… The tightly knitted images of trees – themselves almost becoming anthropomorphic forms – show an environment where nature has self-created shelter and protection from its own elemental chaos… When you are photographing you look at it closer than normally would and be aware of the character that was portrayed and with a bit of humour I gave them names.”
The Kyoto terms for ‘geisha’ are ‘geiko’ for the fully trained artists and ‘maiko’ for those still in training. Geisha is the term used in other parts of Japan.
Robert van Koesveld – Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto
“Late one night in an empty cobblestoned street in Kyoto, a woman sheltering beneath a red umbrella glided past me. I saw in an instant something in her face – luminous eyes, an aloof expression – that gave her beauty a sense of timelessness and exquisite grace. What I experienced as presence. This moment took place on my first visit to the city that had been Japan’s capital for over a thousand years. And it was this image of an unknown woman in an empty street that impelled me to begin this book three years ago.”
Irene Kung’s series ‘Trees’ – a poetic invitation to explore the metaphysical side of nature in searching of the essence of being.
Irene Kung – Trees
Part of the project ‘The forest of the soul’, in this series the artist focused on trees enchanted by their symbolic meaning as a circle of life, time and re-birth, and undoubtedly fascinated by their shape and beauty. She leads us into a mysterious, magical and almost unreal forest inhabited by different trees as a silent guardian of all our feelings, emotions and dreams.
“In my way of working I am able to return the tree to what I have felt. This is the way I perceive my work: to strip away what is not essential in order to show a tree as it really is, as I feel it. This is intuition; it is the irrational. What is rational may deceive us. Feelings don’t.”
Jessica Backhaus’s series ‘Once, Still and Forever’ – with form, light and color on an intuitive quest for traces of the phenomenon of time. These vibrant still lifes deal with the artist’s personal past and the present as a new start. They reflect her inner world and different feelings in lifetime experience. It’s not a chronology, nor a documentary project, but a contemplation of emotions and existence.
“A quiet melancholy that tells us that we cannot change the tides. In other words: that we should follow them instead.” Jean-Christophe Ammann
Jessica Backhaus – Once, still and forever
“My photographs are like a mosaic, a puzzle that evokes the beauty of ordinary moments often ignored as well as the residue of loves past and memories forgotten… I believe that everything takes time. That’s the beauty of it … Sometimes you have to go away in order to come back.”
Flore’s series ‘Lointains souvenirs’ – a slow long-distance journey to Indochina in the company of her grandmother and the French writer and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras, who both lived there once at the same time and locations.
Flore – Lointains souvenirs
It is neither a documentary of her family history nor an interpretation of the mythologies of the author. This is an intimate adventure to capture the echoes of two women’s voices and along with her own to compose a new delicate story woven from threads of melancholy tones, timeless memories and nostalgic poetry.
Guided by Marguerite Duras’s knowledge of the places in her works, Flore walked along the banks of Mekong River, the rice paddies of southern Cochin China, entered colonial houses, to find the atmosphere evoked by the imaginary she had created about these past times while visiting her grandmother’s house. This is not a simple tale about ordinary harmony and beauty, but through a kind of haze and blurred horizon, the artist immersed us into a fascinating world with enigmatic landscapes, mysterious roads and dreamlike buildings.
RongRong & inri’s ‘Tsumari Story’ – a tale about a man, a woman and their three children capturing their experiences and emotional journey in a unique and rural area as a response to primeval concepts of ‘the circle of life’ and ‘humanity as part of nature’.
The series was produced in Niigata Prefecture, one of Japan’s snowiest regions, between 2012 and 2014, following to an invitation by the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. Because its transport network was comparatively late to upgrade, it has somewhat escaped the effects of the globalization. There, time flows according to its own rhythm and the lifestyles of those who still inhabit the villages haven’t changed for centuries.
RongRong & inri – Tsumari Story
“Our original intention for this series was to reflect a worldview based on the image created by the origin of the name of this area, “Tsumari” and its local legends. We wandered through the snow-covered maze with no clear objective, imagining a story of a man and woman who are seized by extreme emotions while living within Tsumari’s harsh natural environment.”
Christopher Thomas’s series ‘Passion’ – human emotions of pain and sorrow like paintings of the Old Masters, taken during the rehearsals for the 2010 production by amateur actors for the Oberammergau Passion Play.
Christopher Thomas – Passion
“It is not an overview, offers no explanation and makes no claim to completeness. My intentions was to convey the timeless impressions of the Passion that are taken from classical painting – an attempt to capture the enormous energy and emotion of the performance. It is not a collection of the most important characters and scenes but tries rather to show just how important is the dedication of everyone. The few people show here stand for the huge number of participants.”
Kikuji Kawada‘s series ‘The Last Cosmology’ – deeply emotional imagery of mainly stars, eclipses, cloudscapes and other celestial phenomena as a chronicle of the dramas in the skies and symbols of life and death, and the fragile nature of our existence.
The photographs were captured between 1980 and 2000, feeling a sense of nostalgic void caused by two historical events on earth: the death of the Emperor Hirohito in 1989 and the Showa Era in Japan ending with him, and the end of 20th century.
Kikuji Kawada – The Last Cosmology
“I was born at the beginning of the Showa Era. There was a great war during my boyhood and then I lived during the period of re-construction and growth and now I slowly approach the evening of life. Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart… I imagine the era and myself as an implicitly intermingling catastrophe… I want to spy on the depths of a multihued heart that is like a Karman vortex.”