VOICES OF THE AMAZON
My artistic photography still takes reality as a base - for as they say, reality can be more magic and suprising than thought out ideas. I like to take this reality and find the magic in it. People stay my main focus, and if they are not
in the picture, the place says something about them.
VOICES OF THE AMAZON is a multimedia project that started in the winter of 2018. Thanks to a crowdfunding I was able to travel to Ecuador and research the subject of the Indigenous view on nature. I had the best example in the people of Sarayaku, who have their feet in the jungle ground, and in their hands, a mobile phone or computer. Actually, the people of Sarayaku are an example of long and often succesful history of fighting off companies that threaten the jungle they live in, and they have done that to such success that they have managed to change the law in Ecuador and give nature some rights. Following a prophecy that predicted the people of Sarayaku to never give up and prevail, they call themselves the "People of the Zenith".
In my quest for trying to understand how the people of Sarayaku view nature and what we can (re)learn as Westerners from that way, I experienced a few obstacles like not understanding Kichwa language, feeling a total outsider, the jungle being hostile towards foreigners, and last but not least a chunk of colonial heritage which I felt present staying there, and which hindered me to a considerable degree in understanding my role as a white westerner and the representational issues that come with the production of the work both in shooting and in presenting.
One of the solutions I found is to make them speak for themselves in the form of filmed interviews. These can be viewed on the facebook page Voices for the Planet: https://www.facebook.com/voicesfortheplanet and in the film section of this website.
The project LichtStiltes (LightSilences) is a project in the Eastern region of Amsterdam and consisted of 5 big portraits (sized 5 by 6 meters) of inhabitants of this part of the city, and 12 portraits and personal stories on the website www.lichtstiltes.nl.
The portraits were attached to the scaffolding of renovation projects and were shown in very diverse neighbourhoods and at two local festivals.
The idea behind the project is to raise questions and open up minds about the nature of "Dutch nationality". In a political climate in which populist parties claim to have the right to decide what is "Dutch" and what is not, I felt the need to research this question in a multicultural city that harbours almost 800.000 inhabitants and 177 nationalities. That is the highest score of nationalities in the world!
These citizens, whether it's someone from a northern province in Holland or of Moroccan descent, often feel as much from Amsterdam as anyone native to it. They have been raised, schooled and/or work here. They are Amsterdammers. In fact, most Amsterdam people are of mixed descent. And looking at our national history, aren't we all a mix?
Unfortunately there are a lot of judgements made about many "Amsterdammers" based on their looks (veil, colour, etc.). So I thought it would be interesting to photograph them in the typical Northern light that helped them form their identity, like the traditional Dutch painters painted their subjects.
On the website, you can read the real story behind the "Amsterdammer", often not what you would expect from first sight.
The city, buzzing with sound and information, often misses this point of reflection and inner depth. In the pictures, I've tried to reflect a meditative silence, to invite the passerby to stop for a moment.
"We should think before we yell something", says Nour-Edinne, here 11 years old. As a son of a Maroccan mother and a dutch father, he believes diversity gives us more variety and knowledge. "We should be helping eachother, instead of fighting eachother."
Lichtstiltes was sponsored by: