In May 2015, Dutch photographer Robin de Puy set out to create a new body of personal work on the open roads of America. Travelling alone on a Harley Davidson, de Puy clocked over 10,000 kilometres; going through countless towns and cities in the American Midwest, she put everyday people, unaccustomed to the spotlight, in front of her camera. In this interview, she talks about the ‘urge’ of wanting to photograph somebody, what makes a good portrait, and how it’s not a bad thing to let your guard down. … (read the interview here).
STRIKE A POSE
Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes, Jose Gutierez, Carlton Wilborn, Kevin Stea and Salim Gauwloos.
In 1990, seven young male dancers joined Madonna on her controversial “Blonde Ambition” tour. They soon discovered that they were role models in the gay community, though they didn’t always feel like it. Now, 25 years later, they reveal the truth about life during and after the tour.
A film by Ester Gould & Reijer Zwaan - trailer.
NEW YORK CITY
Self-portrait with Marina Abramovic
Extract from journal - July 2015.
“She opened her door, and almost immediately we both felt at ease with each other. I wanted to end with a double portrait, that seemed like a nice conclusion to my trip. We curled up on the sofa together – she in her pajamas and me in my worn-out, only pair of jeans and all was well. We were reclining against each other, and it felt like home again. “
AMSTERDAM, ROTTERDAM AND THE HAGUE.
Robin de Puy will be signing her photobook ‘If This Is True, I’ll Never Have To Leave Home Again’ on various locations in April and May. The publication, published to coincide with the exhibition in Fotomuseum The Hague, contains excerpts from De Puy’s journal as well as all the images from the exhibition.
Locations & dates
Thursday April 21:
18.00 PhotoQ Bookshop
020 - 672 09 89
Saturday April 23:
14.00 Donner Bookshop
3012 AG Rotterdam
010 - 413 20 70
Sunday May 1:
15.30 The Hague Museum of Photography
2517 HV Den Haag
070 - 33 811 44
The book, published by Ludion, will be for sale on all locations (€40).
CLOSE UP / AVROTROS
See full documentary: Close Up / AVROTROS
Directed by: Simone de Vries | Cinematography by: Maarten van Rossem | Music by: Robin Berlijn | Film editing: Tim Roza | Produced by: Paul Ruven
If This is True... 8000 Miles on a motorcycle in the USA
03.19.2016 — 06.26.2016
The Hague Museum of Photography
“I do not want to go back – no launch parties or openings anymore. Wearing the same pair of jeans every day, feeling the sun on my skin and deciding whether I will stay or go on the day itself. I also love that everything I own here fits into two saddle bags and a backpack.”
Robin de Puy’s thoughts, jotted down in her journal on 4 June 2015. At that point, she had been in America for four weeks and covered 4908 km on her Harley-Davidson. Another six weeks and 5092 km to go. De Puy is a young portrait photographer in great demand. In 2014, she decided to go on the trip as a way of escaping the pressure of public expectations. Her success has a downside: the constant flood of commissions leaves her almost no time for autonomous work and she feared losing her sense of creative freedom. Her American road trip gave her the chance to go back to deciding for herself what to photograph. The result is a splendid series of portraits, now presented by the Hague Museum of Photography in the photographer’s first ever solo show in a museum setting.
Robin de Puy is currently one of the Netherlands’ most popular portrait photographers. Her career took off immediately after she graduated from the Fotoacademie. Her Girls in Prostitution series won her the Photo Academy Award for the best final year project of 2009. She went on to win the Dutch National Portrait Prize in 2013 for a photograph of fellow-photographer An-Sofie Kesteleyn, who was seriously ill at the time. Both prizes were presented at ceremonies held in the Hague Museum of Photography, creating a particularly warm relationship between the photographer and the museum. The main clients commissioning De Puy’s work are Dutch magazines LINDA and Vrij Nederland and the Volkskrant newspaper. She has recently added international clients like Bloomberg Businessweek and New York Magazine to her CV.
De Puy set off across America in May 2015. Her most vital equipment was in her saddlebags: a couple of lamps, two cameras and a lighting umbrella. She followed no set route but toured the country looking for distinctive faces to photograph – people of all ages and both sexes whom she just happened to meet on her travels. She specifically did not want to record social contrasts or the antithesis between urban America and the country’s endless empty spaces. Robin de Puy’s work adds a new dimension to the classic genre of the American Photographic Road Trip, most famously practised by people like Robert Frank, Jacob Holdt and Alec Soth: her sympathetic portraits could have been taken anywhere between Washington, Warsaw and Vladivostok.
The first week of Robin de Puy’s trip was recorded by documentary filmmaker Simone de Vries (who had earlier made films about Rutger Hauer and Erik Kessels) and cameraman Maarten van Rossem. Halfway through the trip, they rejoined her for another week. The resulting documentary will be broadcast by AVROTROS on Sunday 20 March.
The exhibition comes with an English-language publication entitled If this is true, I’ll never have to leave home again. The book will contain extracts from De Puy’s journal and be designed by SYB. Issued by Belgian publishers Ludion, it will be priced at € 39.90. Order here.
A Severe Curvature
FROM JANICE TO JOHN IN 7864 MILES
Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of words, can pour out of me when writing about my trip across America—about all those encounters in which I, as a photographer, created images of the other. Created my truth. But what if the roles were reversed? What would happen if I suddenly became the subject and someone else were creating his or her truth about me?
Casper, Wyoming. Janice kicked me out of her trailer. She was angry. Very angry. I was allegedly photographing her handicap rather than her. And that wasn’t at all what she wanted. A few weeks earlier I had been in Austin. There I met a homeless boy with a beautiful back. You could say that I was—and might still be—slightly obsessed by that back. The boy has scoliosis, a severe curvature of the spine. I saw the pain and felt ashamed that his body, which gave him so much pain, was so fascinating to me and that I mainly found his back very beautiful, possibly precisely because of that pain. The boy, John, had less of a problem with this than I did. He gave me his back, I gave him my time, and together we did some panhandling out on the street.
With Janice things went differently. She, too, has scoliosis. I wanted to put her at ease by telling her about John. And that’s exactly where it went wrong. I was still seeing that beautiful back that was part of John, but she saw a snapshot of someone’s handicap. After a lot of talking and showing her other portraits, she agreed to work with me again, but the trust in me was gone. In photographs I can use many different emotions, but distrust is a tricky one. When trust is missing, I don’t dare to ask things; nor does the other dare to give. Not the nicest combination, at least not in this case.
Then it was my turn. I’d have preferred to skip this part, but that wasn’t an option.
Simone (de Vries, director) and Maarten (van Rossem, cameraman) arrived a few days ago and will film my journey. I feel like I’m having a bad day and want to hide. But that’s not possible, since a camera is constantly there. Then come anger and uncertainty, tears, followed most of all by shame—everything has been recorded and saved. I want to say that it can’t be used, but I hold back. A moment ago I came to realize that my pain—or my struggle—has become beauty.
I was Janice, but more and more I’m becoming John.
Guest Column K&C – AVROTROS
(translation: Beth O’Brien)
I was asked to photograph an exhibition to cover 25 huge billboards on the former naval yard in Amsterdam, which is the location for the European Presidency this year, to celebrate Amsterdam’s diversity. Showing a wide range of personalities that make Amsterdam, the exhibition is on until the end of January. Visiting address: Kattenburgerstraat 5 (Marineterrein).