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#4 Paris Photo and the photo festival of Lannion

Speaking: Ton Huijbers

The catalog of Paris Photo 1999 with a sequence by Ton Huijbers

Ton Huijbers visited Galerie Pennings right from the start. “The gallery was then little more than a corner in the furniture store, with two walls reserved for photos. There was an exhibition of Ralph Gibson at the time. Wow! He (Harry Pennings) knows what good photography is! I thought it very unusual and special that a furniture store showed the work of an American top photographer. It was only after a few times that I met Harry Pennings; he was not always present. I showed him my photo sequences and he was immediately enthusiastic."

Ton Huijbers (1949) is a self-taught photographer. He made his first pictures at the age of ten or eleven. Around 1967/'68 he came into contact with Pierre Segers and the photo club Spectrum in Roermond, which encouraged him to continue with photography.

“When I saw the photo sequences of the American photographer Duane Michals, I was impressed by the possibilities that this technique offered. Shaping dreams, fantasies, emotions in this way created many opportunities for me. I initially hesitated because I was uncertain about the step I was going to take. For me, Michals was a great artist , and I didn't want to be an epigone of him. I wanted to make sequences in my own style."

(Just like Michals, Huijbers himself acted in his photos. And with that, the photo sequences are in fact also recordings of performances. IvB)

'The Moon' by Ton Huijbers from the book Sequences


The first series he made was ‘The Wall’ in 1982, where he jokes with gravity. It is one of the series in the booklet ‘Sequences. Ton Huijbers’ that he published in 1989 and that is part of the library of Galerie Pennings. Other series included in this booklet are ‘The Birds’ (1983), ‘The Cloud’ (1984), ‘The Moon’ (1987), these are all visual jokes. (Note that at that time photography was still analogue. IvB)

In the last series in the booklet, ‘The knife’ (1985), we see the artist sitting in a chair facing the viewer. With firm gestures he scratches with a knife in, well in what actually? In the photo itself. The scratches appear to be applied in the negative and only become visible in the print.

'The Knife' by Ton Huijbers from the book Sequences

Although the artist worked very seriously in all series, there was a lot of humor in his work, although he realized this later. The photographer himself says about that: “There was little to laugh about when making these sequences. Everything had to be photographed perfectly and precisely according to the concept. Because I was often a model myself, I was forced to leave the direction to the other person. That was a true test, because of course I wanted to keep everything under control. The ‘other’ was often my wife Ria, or fellow photographers Pierre Segers and Jo Brunenberg, whom I must have often driven to despair. I can’t remember how often series had to be re-photographed because it wasn't quite right."

In the Netherlands, at that time, Paul de Nooijer and Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski were also working with the sequence.