maandag 15 augustus 2011

Catalogue Sommières 1961 by Johan van der Keuken Photography

Johan van der Keuken stayed in Sommières (South of France) in 1961 and made a series of marvelous pictures of the village and its people. These pictures have never been seen before.

50 years later and 10 years after his death we organized an exhibition in the city where he took these pictures. The exhibition has started on the 5th of August and will go on to the 1st of October 2011.

For more details about the exhibition and the book :

Martin Parr and Gerry Badger : The Photobook: A History volume 1 / The Indecisive Moment: The 'Stream-of-Consciousness' Photobook
In 1955, the 17-year-old Joan van der Keuken caused a stir in Dutch publishing with his book Wij zijn 17 (We are 17), prefiguring the even greater furore that would greet the publication of Ed van der Elsken's Een Liefedesgeschiedenis in Saint Germain des Pres (Love on the Left Bank) a year later. Van der Keuken's book was as innovative as Van der Elsken's in its treatment of a section of society - not a class exactly, but a societal group - that was beginning to be regarded as a class apart.

It is sometimes forgotten in these days of 'youth culture' that it was only from around the 1950s onwards that the young were first talked about in this way. Previously they had been regarded - give a modicum of wild oats sowing and youthful high spirits - largely as replicas of their parents. In the 1950s, however, with its anxious air of repressed rebellion, such attitudes were overturned. The Beat Generation, the Beatnik movement, James Dean - the original rebel without a cause - and a pouting, gyrating phenomenon called Elvis Presley, drew the world's attention to the fact that, since the war, a new alien seemed to have been dropped on the planet - the teenager.

Van der Keuken's two books, Wij zijn 17 and his followup, Achter Glas (Behind Glass, 1957), caught this mood perfectly. Whilst perhaps not stream-of-consciousness in style, they certainly are in terms of attitude, capturing a moment's experience in which nothing much happens except for the moment itself. The 30 pictures in Wij zijn 17 are tellingly simple. Students lounge around in their rooms, doing nothing very much, as if waiting for their adult lives to begin. The mood is uncertain, capturing that moment when childhood ends and youth must take a deep breath and step out into the world.

This was also the theme of Achter Glas, Van der Keuken's second foray into the new form of the 'photonovel'. Two sisters, Georgette and Yvonne, do little more than sit by a window, day-dreaming. And it was this youthful lassitude, this apparent aimlessness, perfectly expressed by Van der Keuken, that caused a degree of controversy. But this view of teenage rebellion at the sulky rather than more active stage rings painfully true. It became a model for other books examining the same phenomenon, not he least of which is the recent work of Van der Keuken's compatriot, Hellen van Meene, whose similar view od Dutch adolescents - now in colour - has also proved controversial.

See also Johan van der Keuken Paris Mortel Sardegna Portraits...

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