Speaking: Maurice Brandts
Maurice Brandts is the curator of the Slow Photography exhibition at Pennings Foundation.
What does he mean by ‘Slow Photography’ and how did he choose the exhibitors?
We probably know what Slow Food means: meat from animals that have been allowed to roam outside. We may also know the meaning of Slow Painting: painting according to old techniques and materials, such as oil paint and tempera. A Slow Magazine already exists: a magazine published once a year that gives an impression of long-term projects.
In this context, ‘slow’ stands for: slow, attention, quality, slowing down, awareness. The concept of Slow Photography is not yet generally known, but here too it is about the qualifications mentioned. (IvB)
Some time ago, Maurice Brandts discussed with Petra Cardinaal the possibility to exhibit at Pennings Foundation. But what to do with a solo exhibition of small works in a large space? While talking, they came to the conclusion that a group exhibition was a better idea. An exhibition based on work by Maurice Brandts, combined with work by photographers that fit Brandts' vision.
Brandts (1962) studied at AKV | St. Joost in Breda. After graduating, he started working as a corporate and then freelance photographer and later made the switch to education. He obtained his bachelor in Art Education at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, and his master in Art Education at the HKU in Utrecht. He is also an autonomous photographer. Since 2007 he has been a teacher at the Nederlandse Academie voor Beeldcreatie in Rotterdam (formerly the Fotovakschool).
To make portraits, Brandts switched to a different way of photography around 2011. In combination with an 8x10 inch technical camera, he opted for a 19th-century technique, the platinum/palladium print. The making process of the picture and printing technique requires a slow way of working. Both making the portrait as well as printing takes a lot of time. "You need to be patience. It takes a lot of time waiting. And that also applies to posing. For my portraits, I leave the model in front of the camera for an hour. Then I need to wait for a certain look in the eyes. As soon as there is that stillness, I make the picture. I only take two shots during a photo session. In all my portraits you discover the same look.”
“Due to the slow way of working, we came to the title for the exhibition: Slow Photography. I have selected the other exhibitors because they fit my vision: photographers who each practice in their own way a slow method in their creative process. I already met with all exhibitors. It's a coincidence that I ended up with portrait and architecture photographers.”
“I met Hilde Braet during an interview during my master's degree at the HKU. The interview was about ‘instrumental photography’, photography at the service of a therapeutic process. The slow way of working at Hilde Braet is in the long time and the attention that she pays to the conversation with the models, prior to taking the photo.”
“Eugene Daams is a fellow photographer at the Nederlandse Academie voor Beeldcreatie. He shows a series about the Botlek area. In contrast to the activities during the day, he opted for the stillness of the night. For some shots, an exposure time of a few hours was required. After digital image processing, he produces a negative to be able to make a print, usually with UV lamps, that is a modern version of the 19th-century cyanotype, recognizable by the blue color. All in all a lengthy and laborious process. The photos are single copies."
“I met Koen Verjans during an exhibition in the Nederlands Fotomuseum. He devotes a lot of time and attention to the creative process in a different way, by digitally merging eight images into one image. What is special is that, through Photoshop, he removes light sources that do not come from advertisements, such as lampposts, but leaves the light intact coming from that source. That creates a mysterious atmosphere."
“I did an internship at Manolo Laguillo in 1984. According to Laguillo ‘40 years on average one person can experience the development of a city and capture this development with photography.’ I chose him because of his vision on photography of urban design. Every small change, especially in the periphery of the city, is recorded by him. Laguillo is a small link in the evolution of urban development."
“The pinhole photos of Marti Llorens, taken in the Pueblo Nuevo district, in Barcelona, deal with the demolition of homes and industries that had to disappear for the new construction of sports accommodation and apartments for the 1992 Olympic Games. Llorens worked with exposure times of around half an hour. During the demolition of a facade or chimney, Llorens photographed the real image and afterimage in one shot with his pinhole. As a result, you can still see the spirit of a building."
Just before the exhibition, Llorens said that these special photos were purchased by the Barcelona City Archives. That is why the photographer found it too risky to send the original photo prints. That is why reproductions are now on show in the exhibition."
This was the first exhibition in which Brandts also acted as a curator. All co-exhibitors immediately agreed to cooperate. What was the best thing about his role as a curator? "The best part was visiting all photographers and together with them selecting the photos for the exhibition."
The invitation to the exhibition describes what Slow Photography stands for:
… evokes a feeling of Zen, of Kairos, of slowing down
… is the result of time and attention that the photographer devotes to the creative process and to the subject
… is primarily an attitude, a response to the fast digital photography nowadays
… means a slow working method in the process to realize images
… demonstrates how old analogue techniques can be re-applied in various ways
… shows that a slow method of photographing, analog or digital, leads to a process of slowing down, deepening and becoming aware.
"The delay therefore not only occurs with the maker and the making process, but also with the viewer," says Brandts. "The text reads like a manifesto," says Hilde Braet. "Who knows, this may be a start for a new trend in photography."
That trend seems to have already started. Because at the same time as the Slow Photography exhibition at Pennings Foundation, an exhibition by Richard Learoyd can be seen in the Fotomuseum Den Haag.
Richard Learoyd made large-format photos with a self-built camera obscura, the size of a small room. The accompanying text reads: “Both taking and viewing his photos requires a slow, attentive look and a contemplative attitude that contrasts with the fleeting way in which we normally photograph and observe the world. In supreme concentration, Learoyd searches for the right composition. He then hangs a sheet of light-sensitive paper on the back of his camera. In this way he creates a direct positive print.”
It is obvious that the term Slow Photography also applies to Richard Learoy's photography. (IvB)
The exhibition Slow Photography is on show at Pennings Foundation to December 7, 2019.
Film Maurice Brandts, ‘Dreamed portrait’, about the technique of platinum/palladium printing (15 minutes)