maandag 8 juni 2015

The Unseen Eye is Watching You Jan Cremer Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle Photography

Parallel to the exhibition entitled CREMER IN VERF 1954-2014 (CREMER IN PAINT) in Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, which provides an overview of 60 years of painting, Het Nijenhuis forms the backdrop to a presentation of Cremer’s photography. Never before has this part of his multi-facetted oeuvre been accessible to the general public. A broad selection of photos, made between the mid-sixties and the early eighties, gives a revealing view of the world of Jan Cremer.

Even as a young boy, Cremer wanted to become a photographer. In this way, he could follow in the footsteps of his prematurely deceased father, who travelled the world as a journalist. With a legacy of photos, the young Cremer followed him in his imagination. It was only after the success of his bestseller I, Jan Cremer in 1964 that he could buy his first real camera. ‘Instead of making notes all the time,’ states Cremer, ‘I record everything on celluloid. I photograph street names, shops windows, captions, billboards, advertising signs, posters.’ In addition, there are the pictorial themes: ‘Some street scenes or landscapes, details of crumbling walls, rough mountaintops, turbulent rivers, eternal snow, are unadulterated paintings. When I look through the viewfinder, I immediately see the painting.’ To Cremer there is only one shutter speed: the shortest one, 1/250 of a second. ‘Photography is all about that short moment, that one irrevocable moment.’
Down through the years, Cremer’s photos have reflected his urge to travel. In New York, he photographed the view from his room in the notorious Chelsea hotel, the wooden bathing houses on Coney Island, and the neon signs on Times Square. ‘An advertising sign is a perfect representation of the train of thought of a people at a given moment’, according to Cremer, who worked with an advertisement painter when he was young.  We also see advertising in East Berlin, but it is a symbol of faded glory. We see cardboard palm trees on the beach in Romania, and Eskimos peel their potatoes at the North Pole. Cremer has no pretensions with his photos. ‘I am the eye that remains unnoticed. At the beginning of the sixties I found a photo of a cell door in an American prison in a well-thumbed Esquire left behind on Ibiza. It displayed a drawn eye and a warning: ‘Unseen Eye is watching you’. I recognized myself. I observe and am invisible.’


In de jaren zeventig begon Jan Cremer met het maken van reisreportages in gebieden als Mongolië en Groenland. Op zijn reizen heeft hij veel gefotografeerd. „Ik maak foto’s om dingen te onthouden. Zo maak ik in elk hotel ’s ochtends vroeg een foto van het uitzicht. Soms prachtige uitzichten, maar ook kale muren.

Doodmoe wordt hij soms van die foto’s. „Met mijn fotografisch geheugen hoor ik het geluid van dat moment, ik ruik de geuren en weet direct wat er zich afspeelde. Het hielp me enorm in mijn journalistieke carrière en bij het schrijven van boeken.” Veel foto's zijn vanaf volgende week te zien in Kasteel Het Nijenhuis, de tweede locatie van De Fundatie.

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