What and who do we actually see?
Doing something for a fellow human being, that’s always a good idea. Robin de Puy did this by participating in the new edition of Studio Aleppo, an initiative of Fotostudio Paradox and the Syrian photographer Issa Touma. At Studio Aleppo, well-known photographers are asked to portray Dutch city residents. They pay a small prize for a portrait of a top photographer (previously, Koos Breukel participated), but they also do a good deed: they are paying for a portrait for a refugee at the same time. Last weekend Robin de Puy shot 50 portraits which will be exhibited in Humanity House in The Hague until October 22nd.
When I take a portrait, a meeting place comes into existance, a space in which stories are shared or in which new stories can arise. Studio Aleppo offers a physical space like this: we are shooting the portraits in The Hague on site and people can view those portraits there as well. I hope the public will have the time and peace to really look at another human, so that there is more to look at than just disturbing reports about refugees. Perhaps people may recognize something from themselves in the other. Confronting with tickling instead of screaming, I think that’s a nice principle. Taking portraits is my way of giving people a chance to look in a calm manner, without all the shouting from the outside world. What and who do we actually see?
LOOKING FOR AMERICA
June 17 – August 20
The personal stories of Robin de Puy, Bieke Depoorter, Mario Wezel en Eva Jinek demonstrate how a search for America can shift into a search for oneself. Looking for America also provides a unique insight into the America of today.
Robin de Puy, one of The Netherlands’ most wellknown portrait photographers and current official national photographer, traveled through America on a motorcycle to create her powerful portrait series that represent her America. She is not looking for social contrasts but her honest portrets show the unpolished side of America.
The Belgian Magnum photographer Bieke Depoorter captured unknown Americans, who she asked to spend one night in their house. Intense encounters where the portrayed seem unaware of her presence, almost as if she had made herself invisible. In reality, she won their hearts by being vulnerable herself.
The German Mario Wezel also has his own way of showing America. While traveling and photographing, his opinion about this country changed; “From pure admiration to a rather uncomfortable feeling.” Wezel was looking for the America that he knew from the TV and the cinema. What he found was a paradoxical blend of beauty, appearance and emptiness.
Journalist and presenter Eva Jinek traveled back to the country where she came from to rediscover it, commissioned by the KRO NCRV. During her road trip she makes a journalistic and personal journey to better understand Americans, and to discover if the country of her youth still exists. The result is a strikingly candid documentary series.
Never before was the work of these three photographers and a journalist from the same generation linked in this way. A special time document combining encounters within the broader social-cultural story about the United States of today.
THE PUREST PICTURE
Spa challenged me to experiment with a unique medium: photography through a liquid lens made of Spa water. Although liquid lenses are not new, they have not been used for photography up until now. For this project a one of a kind camera was built by the scientists at Etulipa.
The camera works as follows: a drop of Spa water is placed on a glass slide with telfon coating to prevent the drop from spreading and becoming flat. An electric current shapes the drop in order to focus the image. Via a 45 degree angled mirror light is directed into the lens while an industrial film sensor captured the image.
Director: Maarten Groen (DPPLR)
Featuring: Robin de Puy
DP: Myrthe Mosterman
Concept: Rienk de Vries, Niels Bredemeijer (JWT Amsterdam)
"Will you miss me?"
One more night and then I will leave Ely, Nevada. Away from Randy. I am trying to prepare him as well as myself, but realize there is little to prepare for – I am leaving and both our lives will go on.
Randy’s school report states he is not very good at communicating. In fact, the first 8 years of his life he did not speak at all. Nowaways he does, but his words are sometimes inaudible, but he is communicating, even if it’s in his own way. A few days ago I had to cry, Randy was standing next to me. I tried to swallow it, to stand tall for the little guy. That did not work out well, but it was fine. Maybe I owed it to him after everything he gave me.
Randy started to talk and talk. He shared his crying moments. He mentioned that he often had to cry when he did not know how to react to something. “I feel lonely at times too”, he said. “I don’t really have friends I can hang out with and I miss my (half) brothers and sisters.” His brother Austin lives with him, but a large part of the family lives elsewhere, mostly in Utah. Randy hardly ever leaves Ely, let alone outside the state of Nevada. One time he visited his brother Justin Utah – Justin he misses the most of all of his siblings, because he “made him do things like hiking”.
The first time I photographed Randy and I asked him to look straight into the lens, I forgot to mention that he was allowed to blink. He stared into the lens until the tears were rolling down his cheeks, but he did not blink once. Now I know I have to tell him “stay like this” but also “blinking allowed!”. Now I also know that Randy gets quiet in busy crowds, that he likes Dr. Pepper, that he gets really upset when he disappoints someone, that he loves animals, is caring in his own way, and that he would like to have 3 children when he’s older, that he would like to become a cop, that he laughs when he is in pain and that he is almost always hungry. I also know that Randy makes dance-like moves when the sun goes down because he feels mosquitoes all over his body, that he recently learned that mosquitoes drink blood, that he is wondering whether his beloved soda Mountain Dew kills sperm – that’s what his friends told him – and that he smokes his mother’s little cigars. The latter he did not dare to tell me until last night.
Every morning I pick him up. I arrive, call his name and he will come out. I rarely go into the house. Once outside, I usually send him back in to wash his face. He always answers with a short “okay!”. Then he returns with a cleaner face and we leave. After a few minutes (or even seconds sometimes) he will usually say that he is hungry. Today was different. I arrived and he said “I’m coming!” – an excited, adult sound. He came out and sat down next to me. I saw his clean face, his clean ‘new clothes’ that he carefully picked out, and I smelled a nice scent. He told me he had made himself breakfast with strawberries and banana – he had looked after himself.
I asked him, “Will you miss me?”. “Yeah, I like being with you,” he replied. “But you’ll be back.”
An intimate portrait of a boy growing up in Ely, Nevada.
“Kiss it, kiss it!”, he calls out while holding out a flapping trout in front of my nose.
On July 7 2015 Robin de Puy was riding through Ely, Nevada. Her 8000 mile roadtrip, which would form the base for her photobook If this is True, published in 2016, had almost come to an end. She decided to stay a few more days because she was not ready to go back yet. That night she found Randy. He rode past – fast – but in the split second she saw him she knew: De Puy had to know who this boy was. About that first encounter she writes: “Randy, a fragile looking boy, striking face, big ears - a puppy, a golden retriever waiting for the ball to be thrown, (too) naieve. “Can I photograph you?” I asked him. The question was met with a shrug and a look both anxious and curious, a look that seemed to say so much and so little, then he wholeheartedly said “yes’”. No sooner said than done, De Puy took his portrait, left the town a few days later, and that was it – at least, that’s what it seemed at the time. Back in Amsterdam Randy popped into her mind from time to time - it was impossible to know this boy and leave it at that single image. She looked him up again at the end of 2016, and then again in February 2017, and once more in May 2017. She turns him inside out, looks at him, stares at him and he lets her: “Never before have I met someone who gives so much space to watch, to look at him. In return I kiss fishes “.
RANDY is an intimate portrait of a boy who growing up in the small remote casino city of Ely, Nevada. In the Bonnefantenmuseum, Robin de Puy presents this portrait in the form of a photo and video installation at the end of 2017.
Jurors' pick Lens Culture.
GENEVIEVE FUSSELL / Senior Photo Editor / The New Yorker New York, USA.
“I was immediately struck by Robin’s portrait series and found myself returning to it again and again throughout the jury process. At once timeless and classic yet also modern, her photographs possess a strong, clear and unique vision and hold together beautifully as a body of work. I was pleased to discover her during the judging and will look forward to following her work.”
See project: IF THIS IS TRUE.
Styling: Esther Coppoolse
Mua: Sandra Govers
Model: Lotte Zuidema
- VOLKSKRANT MAGAZINE
- VOLKSKRANT MAGAZINE
Styling: Siriane Hunia @ House of Orange
Mua: Anita Jolles @ Eric Elenbaas
The Ravestijn Gallery
In Spring 2016 De Puy’s first museum exhibition opened at the Fotomuseum in The Hague (NL) with her series ‘If This is True…, a series of portraits taken on a roadtrip 8.000 miles on a Harley-Davidson through the USA. A selection of that show, including new and unseen works will be on show at Art Rotterdam 2017.
Booth number: 45
Wednesday February 8 / 18:00 - 22:00
Thursday, February 9 / 11:00 - 19:00
Friday, February 10 / 11.00 – 21:00
Saturday, February 11 / 11.00 – 19:00
Sunday, February 12 / 11.00 – 19:00
For further information about the works or the gallery please contact the gallery director Jasper Bode via email: email@example.com or by phone +31 6 1651 0221.
A SHE STORY
A She Story – an ode to all women
Film by: Robin de Puy & Maarten van Rossem
Model: Elke van Achterberg
Styling: Sonny Groo
Makeup and Hair: Yokaw Pat
Edit: Tim Roza
Sounddesign: Gijs Stollman
Robin de Puy captured various prominent as well as unknown Dutch ladies – Stephanie Afrida, Sophie Hilbrand, Hanna Verboom, Fidan Ekiz and MichaeleDePrince among others – in powerful black and white, while De Bijenkorf drew up their stories.
De Puy on the project: ‘It was very inspiring to work with all these different women. They are all unique in their own way, like the perseverance of the young Elke van Achterberg as a professional wheelchair fencer, and the wisdom of the 90-year-old madam Link as well as the life story of ballerina Michaela DePrince. Besides photographing the campaign images I have also created four short films in collaboration with cinematographer Maarten van Rossem.’
So, on route to the Bijenkorf. There you can admire A She Story from January 16 to March 8 (International Women’s Day) in the shop windows, on outdoor media, online and as an exhibition in all Bijenkorf stores.
SEE ALL THIS
Interview w/ Marina Abramovic
RdP: ‘I recognize that. You shouldn’t force the creative process. Sensing the right moment is a gut feeling.
MA: ‘That’s called synchronicity. When you surrender to the moment, whatever happens is what needs to happen. You have to be open to that, because often our mind gets in the way. When you’re overthinking, you are inhibiting your natural way of doing things. The body is wise in a way the mind cannot match.’
RdP: ‘The wisdom of the body. Sounds good!’
MA: ‘Take your motorcycle roadtrip last year for example. Sometimes you just keep driving and you become exhausted. You are draining your body so much it seizes to think. We are always thinking. Somebody once said that the only moment you’re not thinking is when you are sneezing or having an orgasm. Draining yourself, pushing yourself to the limit, it is also a way to end the constant stream of thoughts. Being so tired you cannot think anymore. The sense of rest you will experience when that happens is unbelievable.’
Read the full article in See All This (only available in Dutch). Order: here.
IF THIS IS TRUE
TIME selects the Best Photobooks of 2016
Selected by TIME LightBox Editor Olivier Laurent:
“The American road trip is a photographic trope that’s often abused by countless photographers, but Robin de Puy, through her truly personal approach, has produced an opus that sets her apart from the masses. Her American road trip spanned 8,000 miles on a motorcycle, but you’ll rarely see pictures of stunning landscapes in her work. Instead, the Dutch photographer chose to focus on the people she met – sharing personal experiences that many photographes would shun. The result is a stunning study of today’s America made all the more relevant after Donald Trump’s election.”