The season has started

I’m pretty sure I picked one of the best possible migration targets a decade ago when I moved to The Netherlands. There is so much photography going on here that I could easily fill a full-time job visiting all the related exhibitions, fairs, talks, etc. The palette is so rich that it’s almost frustrating – as I clearly cannot afford just quitting my job(s) and devote my life to these events, no matter how much I would like to do so. [#firstworldproblems]

The new year started only a few weeks ago and the winners of Zilveren Camera, thus the best photojournalists in the country, are already announced. However, for me, the party only begins when I can finally go to Rotterdam for Rotterdam Photo – and this year also Haute Photographie; two completely different approaches to the medium. The earlier is a rough street event open to just anyone, the latter is a fancy art fair targetting art collectors. About Haute, I have written a somewhat longer review for Fotóművészet (in Hungarian). It is going to be published in March, so here I won’t say a thing. Go buy the magazine, whether you speak the language or not. ;)

Rotterdam Photo was a real player this year! The previous editions had never really convinced me, but now I’m a believer. It got slightly bigger and significantly better. And even though the quality of presentation per container still differs a bit too much for my taste, I saw quite some wonderful stuff. (There were very well done displays, but some other simply caused me hallucinate huge question marks.)

Container #16, titled Camera Works (belonging to Todd ForsgrenMichael Meyer and Marc Redford, curated by John A. Tyson), was definitely one of my favourites. Their unorthodox approach to photography and cameras is inspiring. They like analogue and they like digital. They like including images of their visitors in potential future projects and they mess with their cameras to take pictures of sounds – I don’t need much more to be happy.

I also ran into Naomi Modde‘s beach photographs. I’m a fan of her imagery ever since New Photography 2018 came out. Her pictures remind me of Martin Parr somehow (a moody Parr in a parallel universe, bared of his sarcasm and flash).

In general, I’m into black-and-white, also when it comes to my own photography. Nevertheless, Modde’s photographs make me grateful for the existence of colours – and they trigger me to burn through those neglected colour roll films in my fridge.

Talking black-and-white, I’m a proud owner of Katja Poelwijk‘s Sivar now. (Minimalistic and gorgeous design by -SYB-.)  A book built on beautiful, sensitive pictures of a boy who was born into a girl’s body. I do have questions – but it is an impressive series, no matter what. I’m looking forward to Poelwijk’s future works.

(I’m working on a larger post on questions I have been contemplating lately so you will hear more very soon.)

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Busy weeks

The first few weeks of the year have been pretty busy – in the best possible sense. Next week, I am starting a teeny tiny cooperation with an Amsterdam printing company that hopefully will lead to an internship. For now, I will spend a few days with the team in charge of perfect colours and hope for the best: earning the chance to stay with them longer. A wonderful opportunity I’m truly grateful for. I cannot wait to start!

Yesterday, I started a course in analogue printing techniques. This had been on my wishlist for years! We spent the first lesson handsetting lead type. It was heavens. Just like in a darkroom developing photographs… Oh, girl, I’m thrilled!

Other than that, writing assignments are queuing up, slowly but surely. I’m working on a longer essay about Jacob Riis that is due in May, and I just got another request to address next week’s Haute Photography in Rotterdam.

Here’s to a promising start of the new year!

Status report (and a quiet open call)

Since my last post, I have been acting according to The Plan – and even though karma doesn’t seem to be on my side just yet, things are definitely happening.

A few months ago, I decided to learn the ins and outs of photobook creation and become a designer of those wonderful things myself. I had enough of organised training for a while, therefore I am going for self-study this time. I have been doing online courses at my own pace ever since and reading books that are related. I have been in the graphic design business for quite a while, but there is still so much to learn!

I’m also trying to become an intern at some place where I could pick up even more, on the job. Real life stuff. And this is the part of the deal that turned out to be truly difficult: I contacted several people I would love to learn from. A few of them replied to my emails, I even had a meeting, but it will take time to get any further. I knew it wouldn’t be a piece of cake to find an internship alongside the job I need to keep, but I for sure didn’t expect it to be this big of a challenge. I’m not going to give up though!

Now, I am toying with the idea of finding some photographers that wouldn’t mind trusting someone inexperienced handling their work. Should you know anyone that might be interested, do let me know.

I am back (again)

Apparently, university life sucked me in so much that I haven’t written one(!) blog post for more than a year! Given that writing is a passion of mine, this is highly unacceptable. I am attempting to pull myself together right here and now.

Today, I finally found the time (and the right mood) to go to Leiden and collect my diploma. Mission accomplished now,
it
is
done.

I remember when I was finished with my first Master’s. Instead of any sort of relief or satisfaction, I was feeling incredibly lost. I was crying like I had never cried before. I had no clue what’s next: after 16 years of constant studying, all of a sudden, I was there with no plans and goals. I also remember how puzzled the people closest to me were, unable to handle the situation.

I can assure you all, this time I have no similar issues. On the contrary: oh, boy, what a relief!  I have plans, more than enough for a lifetime. Whether I will have the discipline to make them happen, well, that is another story. Nevertheless, I know I’m about to hit the right track. Life, bring it on.

Autumn Lights

There are two things I love about autumn: its photogenic lights and the beginning of the cultural season.

This year I started with NEU NOW, a festival that I had never visited before. The website was at least as intriguing as it was confusing so I got a ticket. It turned out to be a total waste of money as all my schedule allowed me to attend was the exposition that is free of charge…

To be fair when I was complaining about the fact that the website was not clear on this at all they were more than cooperative and even though I couldn’t get my money back I left with a very good impression.

NEU NOW is tiny – or at least much smaller than what I expected. Nevertheless it delivers on quality: Europe’s emerging talent couldn’t be any more promising.

Jaeyong Choi’s ‘Mass’ is mortifying and fascinating at the very same time. Reminds me of artistic experiments of my own a while ago – in a properly executed version and on a scale I would have never even dreamt of. A plastic cloud of human connections. I can’t help but think of one’s inevitable struggles by drowning in today’s fabricated social media “reality”, just like an unsuspecting fish swimming around in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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And then onto the wonderful photography of Viktorija Eksta. A story of the possible life of a Latvian woman somewhere in the countryside, based on real life legacy someone left behind. An abandoned house full of faded hopes and desires, a tactile memoire, reenacted, reinterpreted. I cannot imagine any better way to be remembered.

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NEU NOW was an excellent choice to start the season, I will definitely show up next year as well. And now on to UNSEEN, then Paris Photo, here I come.

For the complete list of participating artists please click here.

Green #3

EXPO: Barbara Galvács – Dignity

Before I even start describing what is going on in the back room of VondelCS I must admit: Barbara Galvács is a dear friend of mine, a companion in emotional times. I’m unquestionably biased.

Now that you are aware, I can introduce you to this group exhibition in the midst of the beautiful greenery of Vondelpark. An excellent spot to show (off) what you got. Barbara Galvács, Cissie van der Ven and Juel McNeilly joined forces with Ingeborg Brounts to introduce you to what they call the ‘female identity’. A hip topic these days, especially after the Olympic Games bringing up all the discrimination women have to deal with. Being a woman isn’t easy. (For the record, I’m not saying it’s easy to be a man, but let’s talk about that another time.)

Galvács’s photography is fragile, in the most noble sense. It’s like a beautifully arranged set of stained glass windows in conversation with one another. No meaningless chatter but dignified, deep thoughts bring them together. Wise words whispered from one suffering body to another, the proof of virtue and the strength of the human soul.

Cissie van der Ven’s self portraits are a radiant match – quite literally. Daring reflections of alter egos we all long to prove at some point in life. Most of us never ventures into the fancy worlds of animal prints and nipple pasties though. Sometimes I wonder: would it be a better place with less self-consciousness – or just a world where selfie sticks are on the lower levels of Maslow’s pyramid.

Ed van Teeseling’s Rubenesque sculptures, thanks to the collaboration with Ingeborg Brounts, the late artist’s wife, and Juel McNeilly’s collection of light-hearted (yet thought-provoking) street interviews make the exposition complete.

I am convinced there is nothing better you could spend 30 minutes of your free time on. Go grab a coffee and look around in that back room of VondelCS. You have until 4th September.

Berlin