Braeckman | Fieret | Kooiker | Štrba
Braeckman | Fieret | Kooiker | Štrba aims to initiate a meaningful conversation among four oeuvres. Each of the four artists enters into a dialogue with his or her model. Often from a different angle, with different motivations and a different intention.
With the Belgian photographer Dirk Braeckman (°1958) the tenderness with which he approaches his models is striking. Often you only see a shoulder, a leg or a back. The face is hidden behind some hair; rarely does the model look straight into the lens. The human figure is mostly absent, but very often you find traces of a human presence in the work. His work balances on the border between exposing and covering up, between presence and absence, between representation and abstraction. The photographs are not so much narrative as they are infused with suggestion. Braeckman finds the subjects for his photographic work in his immediate surroundings. The undertone in his work is distinctly autobiographical. Dirk Braeckman's visual language focuses on looking and reflects on the status of the image. Braeckman explores the limits of the medium and challenges photographic conventions. His images combine intimacy and distance to create a private, secluded world whose meaning is difficult to define.
Also in the case of Dutch 'photographist' Gerard Fieret (1924 – 2009), it is noticeable that he seems to have a personal rapport with his model(s). He uses the camera to create an intimate relationship. From 1965, Fieret built a formidable body of work that has been very important in the appreciation of photography as an autonomous visual form of art. His ambitions to push the limits and emancipate the medium were very clear. In ten years, Fieret made tens of thousands of photographs of what he himself called 'le monde entier'. He wanted to depict the whole world, and by this he primarily meant 'his (small) world': people in his studio, but also, for example, a stack of cardboard boxes in his basement. Fieret managed to combine his great artistic sensibility with an ostentatious sloppiness. Fieret saw himself more as a 'photographist', a graphic artist who completely bent the technique to his will. He used the camera to create an intimate relationship between the photographer and the model.
Upon the request of Dutch conceptual photographer Paul Kooiker (°1964), the model takes on various poses, after which the artist circles the model with his camera as if making body studies for a painting or sculpture. He examines and objectifies, and the result looks rather sculptural. However, when Kooiker photographs animals, as in the series The Rumour, a different, more intimate bond is created than when photographing people. The result, which can be read as a series of portraits, is less objectifying than when Kooiker photographs women. This also explains why he chose that series within the context of this exhibition. The series was commissioned by the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Kooiker was asked to provide a contemporary commentary on historical surrealism. In response, he created a series of eighteen portraits of donkeys, which were made in the studio. Donkeys are difficult to gauge, they are complex animals, who are extremely intelligent and patient. By photographing the animals in a glamorous situation, as it were, and giving them the title The Rumour, Kooiker creates an atmosphere full of mystery and alienation. The viewer often feels destabilized and as if he were a voyeur. Kooiker's work deals with the essence of looking: the viewer sees what he thinks he sees.
Swiss multimedia artist Annelies Štrba (°1947) has spent several decades documenting her family's life in various series, including Shades of Time. It is clear that she enjoys a very personal connection with her subject. Her presentation at Be-Part includes 240 photographs, which are displayed on three screens through a digital projection. Shades of Time is very personal work, and can be considered as the second presentation of her archive since the exhibition Aschewiese. The photographs cover four generations of Štrba's family: from the time before she was born until 1997. Her photographs freeze time, as it were, and at the same time her work connects the past with the present. The progression of time and history is expressed metaphorically through the continuity of her family across generations. The photographs are disarming and open-hearted, but never voyeuristic. They are intimate recordings, expressions of security and happiness, that make the viewer reflect on the passage of time and the cycle of life.