Anoek Steketee

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Portrait of Anoek Steketee

Anoek Steketee’s (1974, Hoorn, The Netherlands) photographic and video work has a documentary starting point, but does not take a purely documentary approach. The camera is used not only to raise social issues, but also as a tool for the imagination. Never avoiding difficult socio – political topics, she is interested in the backgrounds, lifestyles, hopes and beliefs of individual, ordinary people, who are often presented as merely a link in a system. By playing with light and partially directing the subjects, alienating images emerge. With this approach the idea rises that behind the surface of the façade of the image, other realities exist. These layers, can be politically subversive, even the most innocent ones.

In 2017 Anoek Steketee has been commissioned to depict the theme ‘Stateless’ for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. To be stateless means that no country considers the person as a national under its laws. To translate this theme into images, Steketee will use her keen eye for the human quality in conjunction with the setting.

Other series include Dream City (2006-2011) which was a result of a five years journey along the constructed dream world of amusement parks in diverse places in the world, including Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Colombia, Indonesia, China and Turkmenistan. The illusionary surroundings of the parks form a universal backdrop to the large differences in cultural, sociological and political contexts. With their twinkling lights, fairy-tale setting and perfectly manicured gardens, these places all derive their value from the universal and timeless human need to escape for a moment from daily reality in a communal, constructed space.

Another large project was the series Love Radio (2014) which became part of a transmedia project in collaboration with writer Eefje Blankevoort, designers Kummer & Herrman and Sara Kolster about the process of reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda, based on the popular radio soap ‘Musekeweya’ (New Dawn). Besides the photographs, it consists of video installations and a webdocumentary. Steketee filmed and photographed both the actors and the listeners of the Rwandan soap, grasping their careful hope to believe in the perspective of peace building in these conflict prone communities.

The photographs and film recordings on the web- documentary do not take a purely documentary approach. Through Steketee’s use of light, the illumination of their faces and coloured clothes, the pictures become very intense, bringing the surroundings in its logical darkness. The dusty sand floors with all it’s different browns, provide the pensiveness of the listeners a luminous beauty. We come to feel the hearts of the listeners; the darkest and deepest emotions, a courageous grace, and dual feelings of sorrow and enlightenment.

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