Speaking: Martijn van de Griendt and the exhibitors
The group exhibition NUDE // NOW with contributions from mostly young photographers is on show during the summer (July 24 to August 28, 2021). For the first time, there was no summer closure. After all, we've been closed long enough because of corona, haven't we?
In 2018, the first Pennings Foundation exhibition, PREVIEW, featured a presentation by Martijn van de Griendt (1970): Polaroids from the series 'Exit Wounds (as if)', photos of his girlfriends and other muses.
This presentation prompted Petra Cardinaal to ask Martijn van de Griendt to curate a group exhibition on the theme of nude. Initially, plans were made for an exhibition about erotic nudes, for which Van de Griendt wanted to ask young photographers to give their views on eroticism. What is and what is not allowed in times of #metoo? And what about the power of social media?
But gradually it became increasingly clear to Martijn van de Griendt that the exhibition should be about all kinds of nude photography and above all be 'inclusive', so also with attention to non-binary, intersex and queer.
Martijn van de Griendt about nude:
“We no longer want to be pigeonholed, we want to determine for ourselves who or what we are. Photographing the naked body goes on. Sometimes erotic and stimulating, sometimes as a study of the shapes and curves of a body, or more like poetry and sometimes even as research. Right now, nude is still very common.”
“I got my first girlfriend when I was 17. It was 1987. I lived in Woenselse Heide in Eindhoven. Her name was Anouk and I made my first nude photo. It started with a photo at home when she came from the shower, the towel around her body. A little later a photo of her lying in bed, with only her underwear on. Just as exciting for me as it is for her. A year later I was allowed to go on holiday to Italy with her and her parents and there I took this photo through the mirror, perhaps my very first selfie, although the word did not exist then.”
“After two years, the relationship broke up and the photos disappeared in a shoebox. I got other girlfriends and I photographed them too. Along with the photography hobby that became more and more serious, the number of girls I photographed in front of the camera also grew. I was now at the School of Journalism and photography became professional. The love for capturing my loves was just as great as the love for photography. Maybe I could call it both an addiction.”
“In the exhibition NUDE / NOW I am showing something else for the first time: men in the photo. I challenged myself and tried to photograph them the way I normally shoot the girls, intimate and vulnerable.”
That nude photography has everything to do with vulnerability, especially Jesse van den Berg, Prins de Vos and Dylan van Vliet show. Not only are the models exposed, the makers are also vulnerable.
Jesse van den Berg (1996) tells about the series ‘Reconstructing Queer Intimacy’ (2020-2021): “I grew up as a very prudish child. This was noticeable through the fact that I always showered with my swimming trunks on when I was younger. This started a very alienated relationship with the naked body and me. As I got older, I slowly realized that I identified with the label queer. Growing up in an environment where there was barely any representation of queer intimacy around me was confronting. The whole society is based on a heteronormative way of thinking. When queer people got represented it was often in stereotypical and problematic ways. Queerness is not there to entertain the straight gaze. This lack of queer intimacy where I could identify with caused a second moment of feeling alienated.”
“The label ‘queer’ gives my models and me the most freedom. It does not assume that gender and sexuality are binary or fixed. Through my experiences I gained a certain fascination on the topics of intimacy, sexuality, the naked body and how they relate to my being. It created a specific way of looking at the human body in an intimate context. With lens-based media I research my definition of queerness and intimacy and explore how intimacy can be present in the process of making.”
For ‘Boys do cry’ (2014-2021) Prins de Vos (1991) photographed Levi, the Amsterdam artist and man with trans history, who dares to expose himself literally and figuratively in front of the camera. “It is a glimpse into the life of a boy who is fighting an embodiment of his identity, with all the pains that come with it.”
“For me, photography started as writing in a diary. By recording my own life, relationships and friends, I was able to look at it with distance and perspective. This highly personal way of documenting has always remained my starting point. As a participant observer, I photograph people in my immediate environment with whom I identify and who are often part of my immediate circle of friends. That is why people sometimes dare to expose themselves literally and figuratively.”
For Dylan van Vliet (1989) the naked body is the most important tool in telling his stories. ”It fascinates me that every tiny difference in posture, in movement, tells me something different. There’s both strength and vulnerability in it. My project ‘Verwandlung’, which means transformation in German, focuses on the vulnerability that comes with having a mental illness. The difficulty in showing your true self. I asked myself the question, how do I let others be part of my life without lying about myself?”
While studying, Dylan was diagnosed with what they call a personality disorder. This creates the constant question of who he is, and what his place in today’s society is. Through his photography Dylan wants to show the difficulties that a mental illness entails. Themes such as identity, isolation and sexuality find an important place in his work.
Like Prince de Vos, Ehlana Polgara (1998) uses photography as a visual diary. My work emerges like a visual diary, in which I explore themes concerning identity, boundaries and disconnection through mixed media artworks, using photography as a sketch-like base.”
At Pennings Foundation she shows ‘Daughter of Helios’ (2020). “The series is about the influence of parental narcissism, and the process of breaking free from the silenced and toxic environment that I was brought up in.”
“I constantly hear his voice inside my head, Judging right from wrong. The Oppressor, Demanding his family to represent love and freedom. However on the inside, it was cramped and fearsome.”
Through her photography Lana Prins (1993) researches, questions and visualizes subjects such as love, lust, gender and the female body. “Together with the women around me, I try to investigate what it means being a woman these days, and to reclaim the female body. I use the camera to get closer to others – both literally and figuratively. Photography is not only a form of documentation, but also a means of experiencing the most intimate expressions of human emotions.”
Tara Fallaux (1972): “Emotionally and narratively I am interested in looking at human ties, both physical and mental: love relationships, family, friendship, youth, getting older, physical vulnerability, sensuality, courage, desire and hope. I acknowledge that these are very broad themes. But it is this universality that creates a bond, touches us as we recognize common existential questions and feelings.”
About the series ‘Lova Love’ (2021) she tells: “In 2018 I lived in Xiamen, China for 5 months to work on an art project. Lova was introduced to me as an interpreter and assistant. We were together a lot and we became friends. From the beginning we talked a lot about art, but even more about love, relationships and the feeling of loneliness. Lova is now studying at the Rietveld Academy and now also lives in Amsterdam, not far from where I live. These portraits reflect her doubts and insecurities about the search for love and about being lonely.
Lova turns out to be Lova Yu (1996). She studied Image and Language at Gerrit Rietveld academie. With her background in Philosophy, she decided to use the analytical method as a handy tool for having fun. She kept wondering on the edges of them, and tempting people to do the same. She approaches storytelling in a very personal, informal way, in search of the original magic of human emotions. Her themes: urban life, human emotions, sexuality, gender, religions, existence.”
“Boys boys boys and
Mysterious and dangerous
How to understand the world through looking at boys?
I have to love everything about them.”
Finally, Cornelie Tollens. With ‘The Golden Room’ (2021) she draws attention to the beauty of the aging body. “The photos were commissioned by the Volkskrant with the theme of long-lasting love, love in old age. Never before have I photographed older people naked. This has really given me so much love for this theme, a rich addition to my oeuvre. Never before have I seen BEAUTY in a whole new way.”
The exhibition NUDE // NOW is mainly about vulnerability, intimacy and acceptance. It generated a lot of reactions from the public.
On July 26, an interview with Martijn van de Griendt by Rob Schoonen was published in the Eindhovens Dagblad: "The always vulnerable nude".
In September Martijn van de Griendt won the prestigious RABO PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAIT PRIZE 2021 with his photo of Luka.