Sunday, April 11, 2010

Photographers whose work I like - No 3 / Bert Teunissen

I first met Bert Teunissen at the Noorderlicht Festival in Groningen, Holland. I wandered into a gallery that was showing some of his Domestic Landscapes. Bert was there we met and talked. I've been a fan of his work ever since. It's great to see work you admire and know you could never do it yourself.

Bert has this to say:

For the last thirteen years I have been working on a photography project called Domestic Landscapes. This project is about light - natural daylight. The photos show how daylight illuminates the domestic interior, and how it dictated the way the interior was build, used and decorated. This specific light and the atmosphere it creates have their origins in the architecture of the pre-electricity era, when daylight was the main source of light. This kind of light started to disappear from European homes after World War II when the old way of building was abandoned. At this moment few of these homes remain.

Domestic Landscapes is also about identity and diversity. Every country, every region has its own distinctive culture that can be recognized in its homes, customs, cuisine and traditions.

The inhabitants of the houses where I take photographs still know how something ought to taste and how it should be made; they understand the importance of time and ripening, and the value of daily and seasonal repetition. I found that when local traditions disappear, most of their visible aspects are also lost. When a small farmer stops slaughtering, the open fireplace becomes redundant. Sausages and hams will be dried artificially and smoked in a factory losing their original flavour and appearance. And when a small farmer stops farming, the stables are converted into storage or living spaces, the stable doors are replaced by windows, the cement floor by parquet, the hayloft is altered into bedrooms, the kitchen is moved to the former parlour, and slowly all rooms and spaces will have lost their original meaning and significance.

The title Domestic Landscapes refers to the characteristic panoramic format of a landscape photo. It also refers to the idea that the homes that I photographed form a landscape of the life of the people that live in them. These homes have changed just as slowly through the years as the landscapes in which I found them. The people in the photos have aged with their habitats and have become part of it.
In the last thirteen years I’ve built an archive of photos of interiors from all over Europe and by the time I will have finished photographing, it will contain over eight hundred images.
Through the financial help of The Mondriaan Foundation, The Dutch BKVB Fund and Hazazah Film & Photography, the project was given a boost and became ready for publication.
In 2007 Aperture, New York published Domestic Landscapes – A Portrait of Europeans at Home, designed by Erik Kessels. In the same year a German edition was published in collaboration with Kerber Verlag in Bielefeld. The book received two prizes in 2008: PDN’s Annual Photography Award and the Prix de la Photographie Paris.

Exhibitions in Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, The Photographers’ Gallery in London, Aperture Gallery in New York, Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld and the Contact Photo Festival in Toronto accompanied the publication. These museums and major coverage in the press (articles in The Independent, The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune) helped to make the first part of the project, being Western Europe, a big success.
Thanks to the financial support of the European Cultural Foundation, I am able to continue with the project. In 2010 I hope to complete the photography of homes in most eastern European countries.
I intend to finish the European project in 2011 after having photographed in Russia and The Ukraine, which part still needs to be funded.

By then I will have covered most of Europe.

The photographs are:

Coppa Ferrata #1, 22/10/2005 16:10
La Alberca#6 1/3/2005 12:56
Mazouco #1, 26/3/2002 13:05
Rakovo #1, 18/10/2007 14:48


mark page said...

I love this series...

Lise Utne said...

Stunningly beautiful work.

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