Plattform fotografi
Plattform fotografi

Bertien van Manen

Sunday 28 march 2010

Give Me Your Image
In 2002 I started photographing photographs in parts of private interiors in Europe. An interior is a metaphor for the inner being, showing in an unemphatical way the history, feelings, ideas and hopes of the inhabitants. The interior is a cocoon or a shell that people build to keep their dreams in.

In these interiors I choose details in which I put family-photographs. I find marks of war, suppression, happiness and sadness over a period of sometimes more than a hundred years. I find differences in history, atmosphere, religion, culture as well as correspondence in human ideas about love, friendship, family, birth and death. World history is somewhere in the background.

The strange, irreal effect of combing photos with objects for me is a picture of the irreality of the world we live in. The alterations of political situations, the restlessness caused by the current threats and changes, war, migration, terrorism, but also consumption, TV, Internet, the speed of life, all these things make people forget who they are. And they make them cherish their family photos …

I like to work with small automatic cameras because of its dynamic and unpretentiousness, the liveliness and the spontaneity and the coincidental effects. Using this camera also has the advantage of being less threatening. I am not so much there as “the photographer”, more as a vistor who takes pictures. I was often moved by the way people trusted me and allowed me to have a look in their most private belongings.
(Bertien van Manen)

On this stage something very strange takes place. The scale of the world is turned upside down, cups become big and people become small. Time collapses, different historical periods are brought together. Disparate locations can be seen all in the same photography, we are not sure where we are. To make sense of these assemblages we have to use the knowledge we have gained in making stories from our own photographs on display in our homes....
From such personal and private items we are also witness to a wider historical vista. By a process of connecting people to places and identities to people, we can create a narrative of European history. This process is made explicit by the way Bertien van Manen has constructed each assemblage. In her dense and tight photographs she has been able to bring together the sometimes conflicting dimension of place, time and location to create complex images that place the individual both in the home and in wider events. It is history from the position of the individual.
(Paul Wombell)

Bertien van Manen is a noted Dutch photographer, working mainly on larger projects, like “a Hundred Summers a Hundred Winters”, photographs of daily life in the ex-Soviet Union, “East Wind West Wind” pictures made in China and “Give me your Image” photographs of photographs made all over Europe. These projects resulted in books and numerous exhibitions.

Photographs are in the collection of: La Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, SF Moma San Francisco, la Salle Chicago, The Baltimore Museum of Art USA, Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris France a.o.