Speaking: Julia van den Broek
As part of the national Photo Week in 2013 and at the request of Galerie Pennings, Julia van den Broek organized the exhibition Family about the house. It was a very special and playful exhibition with photos and installations made especially for this occasion, but also with the use of 'found' photos. It is rather unique that such an exhibition was on show in a photo gallery. Petra Cardinaal gave the artists permission to do whatever they wanted.
The national Photo Week was an initiative of the Nederlands Fotomuseum and Foam and took place for the first time from 20 to 29 September 2013. The theme was ‘Look! My Family’. All over the country there were numerous activities and exhibitions. It was intended that the Photo Week would grow into a national event such as the Book Week. But when the second edition (with the theme ‘Look! My happiness’) failed to receive a subsidy, the national initiative stopped.
For ‘Family about the house’ Petra chose a young photographer as curator, Julia van den Broek, with the request that she also be one of the exhibitors. Julia had an internship at Galerie Pennings in 2009. She was then in the third year of AKV|St. Joost. “Most students did an internship with a photographer, but I chose to do an internship at a gallery. That suited me better. I did all kinds of common work there, but I also went on a studio visit to photographers with Petra. That's how I got to know Paul Bogaers.”
Julia's method is experimental. She uses photography as a means, not as an end in itself. As a result, she is more a visual artist than a photographer. That also applies to the other exhibitors Julia chose for the exhibition. Photographers normally bring their work framed. Not the photographers of ‘Julia's Photo Museum’. They came to the gallery days in advance to build installations and make a wall arrangement. There was a lot of tinkering, but everything was finished just in time for the opening. “I knew some exhibitors from the academy, the others from a group exhibition that I participated in in the Amsterdam Center for Photography.”
Back in time
Julia created a homely atmosphere with furniture ‘from the past’. She made a selection of vintage furniture from the fifties, sixties and seventies from De Spot, a store for vintage design and furniture, also in Eindhoven. In addition, embroidery and old women's magazines referred to the domesticity - say craftiness - of the past. Music, of course LPs played on a pick-up, gave a completely different era: that of the hip, progressive teenager father (or mother) once was. The music appears to have stood the test of time just fine, while the women's magazines seem dated.
‘Family’ involves all kinds of associations, such as family portraits, family ties, the place of the individual within the family. The exhibitors set to work on this. This resulted in humorous projects as well as in personal, moving stories. Now the trick was to shape this all in an interesting way. This worked out very well with these exhibitors.
Irene Cécile chose the humorous side. For example, she took family group photos of goats, and even of green beans, matches, and so on. "What actually is family?" she wondered. Is a fetus already family? She shows a (photo of) a fetus in a cut-open pumpkin. She also made associations with 'relationship'. A banana with brown speckles resembles a giraffe. That must be family. A clearing in a hedge corresponds to a light spot on a lawn. The relationship is reminiscent of the photos that Paul Bogaers combined in his book Upset Down (2010).
Julia van den Broek set to work on how to make a family portrait as simple as possible. She came up with memo sheets in various sizes and colors. Doing so she demonstrates the diversity of individuals. Two dots represent the eyes. Her other project involves dinnerware. She considers the dinnerware that her mother collected as families. With these she has made a number of beautiful group portraits.
Anne Geene's work also has a comic side. She made name with her book ‘Lot no. 235. Encyclopedia of an allotment’ (2010), for which she carried out semi-scientific research into plants and animals. She has done quasi-scientific research for ‘Family on the floor’. Inspired by the research of the cross-breeding of peas by the biologist Mendel, she started looking for new plant families and their heredity. What happens if you cross leaves with a hole or a dot? For her project ‘Pedigree’ she went looking for photographic similarities. For example, she has discovered a family of plants behind windows, a family of plants growing out of heads, and so on.
Lana Mesić, Don Sars and Sander Uitdehaag took their own family as a starting point. Lana Mesić shows the project ‘Vis-à-Vis’ (2010), a handmade book with family photos. She has hung a selection of photos from the book on the wall. The text at the front of the book makes clear that the focus is on the relationship between mother and daughter.
One of the projects that Don Sars shows also stems from an existing project: ‘Dave and Donny’ (2009). He used the photos that his father took of him and his brother Dave in their childhood. It becomes obvious that the father always photographed the two brothers in an identical manner. We see Dave and Donny in a telephone box, in a guardhouse, in the sea, in Mother's lap, and so on. Don Sars did not present the photos in pairs but distributed them over the wall as a memory game. In the gallery's stairwell, Sars hung a world map that he got from his parents when he turned eighteen. On the accompanying birthday card somone wrote about discovering the wide world. The fact that he covered the map with paint, except for a small piece called the Netherlands, makes it clear that his parents did not mean it literally.
Sander Uitdehaag also made use of ‘found’ photos. For example, he hung an old family photo from 1931. Through headphones you could hear the voice of a grandmother who tells stories about each family member. He found an old family album with his wife's family. It is an album to collect portrait photos in so-called business card format. Judging by the clothing, the earliest photos date from just after 1860. The last photo in the album dates from around 1900. Amazing that such an album is still in the family. In the photo album a speech for a 25th wedding anniversary was added, undated, with a very offending text. Hopefully, this speech was meant to be comic. Furthermore Uitdehaag had composed a Family Chair from individual photos and ‘family tree wood’.
The most impressive is the installation ‘Reading instruction’, consisting of a number of pages hung from the ceiling. Pages from a book, structured in such a way that you can choose which passage to continue. So you can determine the course of the story yourself. Sander Uitdehaag received the book from his father. Only later he discovered that his father had made notes in the book. The pages with the notes are selected for the installation. The book is all about choices that a person makes in his life.
The opening of the exhibition was performed by Paul Bogaers. Julia van den Broek had selected him because the way he works - the experimentation, the use of photography as a medium and the associative combination of forms - is very similar to the exhibitors' working methods. For some of the exhibitors Paul Bogaers has been a great example.
Bogaers made the introduction to the exhibition in style by choosing fragments from the film Abel (1986) by Alex van Warmerdam and the book De Avonden (1947) by Gerard Reve. Hardly anything happens in the works mentioned, but the bickering between parents and adolescents is recognizable to many. This can be interpreted as an invitation to see Abel again and to read De Avonden again. At one point in Abel, the mother says "Let's keep it cozy". A tile has been made especially for the exhibition with this very recognizable text (in Dutch). It was for sale in the shop during the exhibition.
‘Familie over de vloer’ was on show at Galerie Pennings from September to November 2013.
The review of this exhibition was first published in online magazine Brabant Cultureel: