This Saturday the first solo exhibition of the young photographer Gioia de Bruijn (1986, Curacao, Netherlands) opens at Flatland Gallery. The exhibition is made up of personal images and black and white photographs of empty streets and buildings. Some 40 photographs are exhibited in the gallery.
An unemployed Indian man from Nevada who just voted for President Trump (‘I am voting for Trump give me five Navajo Indian reservation’, 2016). A brothel next to a gas station (‘Alien cat girls brothel, Death Valley’, 2016). An unmade bed in Antwerp (‘Bed, ‘Antwerp’, 2016). Two people hanging out of a window in an apartment in a suburb of Lyon (‘Dudes by the window’, 2016).
It is a visual cacophony of city-scapes, airports, skyscrapers, party people, tramps and junkies.
And text, lots of text, written on small memos. To guide us in her world of thought.
De Bruijn connects the seemingly random topics. They give us no unambiguous meaning or informational value. But together they form her instrument to feel safe. The peace that emanates from empty cities merges easily with the chaos of an afterparty. This convergence of chaos and peace is home to her..
In her black and white series "Empty Cities" (2010 - ongoing) the skyscrapers with their seemingly endless glazing walls are compositions with high angles that offer us a microworld where the passage of time and the intensity of the sound is different. Chaos and peace is also located in a singular photo such as her self-portrait in which she pulls out her t-shirt in front of the window with in the background a basilica.
Even in her most raw photographs which she named "Weekend Warriors" (2009 - 2016), De Bruijn looks beyond the merely documentary significance to grasp the comprehensive. Just like Wolfgang Tillmans, De Bruijn is part of the documentary of her own life, thus making her images not voyeuristic. The friends in this series look stoically in her lens, stoned, stuffed with pills, sloshed, but assured of themselves, to the point of arrogance, in what is often a third or fourth day of an afterparty. Their glances are penetrating, almost accusatory. "Why fuck the world"?.
Photography is a product of her life. De Bruijn’s photos have a soul. For her the whole process counts. From creating the image, to the development of the negatives in her bathroom by herself to the printing. Her old Hasselblad can fall, like it did many times. The camera also has a soul.
With her sense of composition, these images (and texts) ensure that we begin to see the world in its various beauties with more appreciation. There is not only noise. There is also sound.
Gioia de Bruijn graduated with honours from the Camberwell College of Arts in London. Her work was exhibited at Found Reality, Amsterdam; Flatland Gallery (in de groupshow ‘Gardening’ 2016 and ‘Hunting’, 2014), Amsterdam; Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam, 2015 and 2016; The Fence, Fotofestival Naarden, 2015; Pakhuis de Zwijger (solo), Amsterdam, 2013; Van Gogh Museum, groupshow, Amsterdam; Rauwer, PUP / Hutspot Gallery, Amsterdam 2012 ; Camberwell College of Arts, London, 2012; Underground Gallery, Charing Cross station, London, 2012 and Bermondsey Biscuit Factory, London, 2009.