Image above: Eliza Bordeaux, installation view Art Rotterdam of the series L’atelier hétérotopie
Ever since the start of FOTODOK in 2008, we have been working with photographers who are at the start of their careers. They are part of our group exhibitions, participants in our talent programs, they give workshops in our educational programs. Sometimes they are also involved as volunteers or interns or we work with them to develop our programs. We feel connected and remain interested in everyone’s development.
On 8 February, Art Rotterdam opened its doors with, in addition to the galleries with established names, a large stage for makers in the starting phase of their career at the Prospects exhibition of the Mondriaan Fund. We were vicariously proud of the young talents from the FOTODOK family: Eliza Bordeaux, Louisiana van Onna, Jonna Bruinsma and Marijn Kuijper.
The photos that Eliza Bordeaux printed for the series L’atelier hétérotopie (2021-2022) on turmeric sheets, a variant of blueprints, were made during a residency at the asylum seekers’ center in Rijswijk. It takes weeks to months for the images to emerge on photosensitive turmeric sheets. External unpredictable factors such as humidity and the amount of sunlight influence the result. The outcome is uncertain: all that waiting may be for nothing. Waiting is a daily routine for asylum seekers. For asylum seekers’ centers the outcome is often uncertain. Bordeaux gave photography workshops and, together with the residents, explored the idea of the asylum seekers’ center as a waiting area. The photos and the printing technique reflect the daily environment in the center.
In her long-running photographic project La Bella Figura, Jonna Bruinsma (1995) follows young people in the city of Bari, the capital of the southern Italian region of Apulia (in Italian: Puglia). Bruinsma investigates the culture and customs of these young city dwellers. Jonna focuses specifically on their search for their own identity and the influence of status, image and tradition on this. For her documentary photo projects she usually immerses herself in a place for a long time. Jonna blends into local life and gains the trust of her subjects. For example, she regularly returns to Bari for La Bella Figura and maintains contact with the young people she follows here. Jonna is particularly interested in the interplay between traditional family values and social changes she sees in Italy. During her studies at the Utrecht School of the Arts, her interest in a young generation of Italians started. Compared to the rest of southern Italy, Bari is home to a remarkable number of young people, who roam around in groups and determine the street scene.
Louisiana van Onna (1995) makes the invisible visible. In her photography she shows subjects in nature and science that are often hidden by their abstract nature. At Prospects, Lousiana showed her project Upupa Epops (2022), which is about naming birds. Specifically, she addresses the Hoopoe, a bird whose name phonetically describes the sound it makes. The direct link between naming and the sound produced is also referred to as ‘onomatopoeia’. Louisiana investigates how the Hoopoe gets different names in different languages because language influences how you hear something. She wonders how you could describe the sound of the bird in such a way that there could be a universal name that works in every language. With an installation of photography and video, she shows her quest to overcome language barriers and make the name of this bird universal.
For years, Marijn Kuijper (1980) mainly photographed others, until Marijn discovered that you can tell a better universal story by focusing on yourself and your own family. Now the artist makes intimate self-portraits around themes such as masculinity, gender and family. As a trans person and parent in a non-traditional family, Marijn investigates what parenting means in the 21st century. How do you “parent” as a trans person and what is your place in the family if you are not the biological or legal parent of your child? The installation State of flux (2022) at Prospects consists of textile collages and photos on long strips of fabric. The video Declaring my multitudes (2023) is shown between the collages, in which excerpts from the artist’s diary are read aloud and family images are shown. The video shows the different layers of Marijn’s identity, such as parent, lover, queer and trans person. These roles are also reflected in the collage itself. For this, Marijn collected embroidery, drawings and photos together with family and loved ones. These two works can thus be seen as an intimate group project as well as a statement: the viewer is challenged to think about what a family is and what social norms are imposed on it.