vrijdag 24 oktober 2014
Hans Eijkelboom’s anti-fashion shots head to Paris Photography
Hans Eijkelboom’s pictures undermine the very ideas behind fashion. After all, who can believe the subtle promises of individuality and differentiation made by the clothes industry when you look at the grids of pictures in Eijkelboom’s new book, People of the Twenty-First Century, each shot in the same place during a two-hour window. Everyone looks so similar.
Nonetheless, the photographer will be the toast of the fashion industry's capital next month, with not one but two shows timed to coincide with Paris Photo, the international photography fair which takes place from November 13-16 in the city’s Grand Palais.
Colette, one of Paris’ coolest fashion lifestyle stores, will be showing Eijkelboom’s pictures in its gallery, 2 – 29 November. Visit on the evening of 13 November to hear him talk with the great photo curator Erik Kessels, and sign some books.
The photographer will also be signing books at Dirk Bakker Books within the fair itself 6-8pm on 14 November. Additionally, a few minutes across town at the Centquatre cultural centre, Kessels and Eijkelboom come together again, to restage Small Universe, the Dutch photography exhibition Kessels presented at Recontres d'Arles earlier this year, for a longer run, 13 November 2014 - 4 January 2015. Read this interview with Erik, wherein he describes the show and Hans’s place within it.
Meanwhile, across the border in Belgium, at Antwerp’s M HKA art museum, Eijkelboom’s photographs join pieces by Francis Alÿs, Antoni Muntadas, Hermann Pitz in an ‘intervention’ by the Russian-born artist Olga Chernysheva, combining her own work with others in a lively group show. The exhibition, which runs 24 October 2014 - 15 January 2015, will be “a commentary on different understandings of vision: as something both physical and mental, both individualised and socially engaged.”
Hans sounds like a good fit for this exhibition. Read this interview with him, to hear him explain why everything he does relates back to notions of identity; and to see more of this incredible photo series, buy a copy of People of the Twenty-First Century Here.
Our People of the Twenty-First Century photographer on The Sartorialist, Martin Parr and the consumer society
If you're anything like us you will, at some point, have gone into a clothes shop, picked out a garment which you thought expressed an element of your personality, and at the till been hit with the realisation that thousands of people across the planet will also buy and wear exactly the same piece of clothing.
It’s this fallacy of modern individualism that the 65-year-old Dutch photographer, Hans Eijkelboom examines in his new book, People of the Twenty-First Century. His photo series, shot during two-hour sessions on the street in Western cities over the past twenty two years, captures people as they truly dress: not with the individual panache so often dreamed of in clothes shop dressing rooms, nor with the rigid uniformity common in stricter society, but instead with a kind of uncanny groupthink. View these shots laid out in a grid formation by Eijkelboom and the viewer becomes aware not only of unconscious conformity at work in this supposed age of the individual, but also how herd-like our habits are. Read on to discover how Eijkelboom thinks this book serves as a kind of mirror; why no one has ever complained about his pictures, and who he thinks he owes his greatest photographic debt to.
When did you start making the pictures in this series? In 1992. Before I had made similar shots, but not on a daily basis. Again, the inspiration was identity and society. When I started the project, I wondered whether I was a product of the consumer society, rather than my own man. I wanted to make the series almost as a mirror, in which to see myself. If I can see the surrounding society, then I can see what makes me who I am. I think ‘how can you be so naïve to go to a shop, to buy clothes that sum up your personality, and not realise that, at the same time, 10,000 men and women around the world do and think the same things?’ But I do it too, of course. We’re told we’re individuals, and we buy these things, and we are a product of the culture that we live in.
How long does it take to get a series together? I look around for ten or fifteen minutes. Then I pick my spot and start photographing for between twenty minutes and two hours - never longer than two hours. If I go on for any longer it is not interesting for me. You can find everything if you look for it for a year, but it is very important that it is a part of what my eyes are seeing for one or two hours. The series, which I always lay out in these grids, must really be what everybody else can see in the city. And they often do end up seeing it too. I often hear from people who’ve seen an exhibition of mine and say ‘oh, I hate it, because whenever I go to the city now, that’s all I see.’
Since you started other photographers, such as Scott ‘The Sartorialist’ Schuman, Bill Cunningham, or Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) have sprung to fame. Do you feel any affinity with their work? I’ve certainly seen their websites. I think they’re good, but the big difference between my pictures and theirs is that they are interested in the things that are exceptional, whereas I’m looking for things that you see all the time on the street.
Have people ever complained about you photographing them? No. Some people are happy with the photograph, but most people never see them. My work is on show in a big theatre in Amsterdam. About four or five times in a year, I get a message from someone asking for a copy of their picture. They only ever ask for their own picture, but I also send them the other pictures in the grid too. Still, the question is always ‘can I have my photo?’
That’s interesting. So is there more scope for this kind of anthropological street photography? Yes, I think there’s more scope. I’m happy I started with this project before the internet became big, because I’ve captured the analogue generation and the digital generation. I think we’re at the cusp of a new era. A lot is changing very quickly, in social terms, in relation to identity, fashion, internet and so on. Only, I’m not sure how it is changing. It’s too complicated for a 65-year-old man, but I look at it and it’s very interesting for me. Take a look at People of the Twenty-Firist Century in the bookstore.