I'm a photo historian, curator and writer from the Netherlands.
In the 1990s, I founded the first photo agency dedicated to art photography, representing a.o. Viviane Sassen, Rineke Dijkstra and Blommers/Schumm. As a curator I worked on exhibitions for the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; the National Media Museum, UK; the Science Museum, London; and the Dutch National Portrait Gallery.
With Koos Breukel I am curating the FotoFestival Naarden 2019: Dutch Masters & Marvellous Misfits. My latest book Photography Decoded, co-authored with Susan Bright, will be published in June 2019.(Tate Publishing/Ilex, London)
I travelled with photographers Koos Breukel and Sander Troelstra around the former Zuiderzee for several months in 2017 and 2018. Breukel and Troelstra captured their vision of club life, and as a photo historian I did research and found vintage photo and film material for the exhibition.
And sometimes I made breakfast.
In times of general low spirits, it may help to know that things could be worse. This Polaroid, from the collection of the late, unparalleled Frido Troost always does the trick for me. After all, the best thing about found photography is that you can indulge in carefree interpretation.
At first glance, this image depicts an extremely happy moment, one of the highlights in life: the birth of a healthy baby. However, there is a dark edge to this photograph, and not only literally. The man who shows his newborn baby, decided to do so in a particular corner of his house. By choosing his rifle collection for a background, the meaning of this photograph changes dramatically: his wife and newborn baby became his hunting trophies.
The contrasts in this photo make it even more powerful. A figurine of a baby lies sleeping against the trigger of a shotgun. The tiny innocent baby is a bonsai version of his impressive father, with matching hairlines. The man’s strangling clasp forces his wife to show her affection in an incapacitated manner. Let’s hope they had a long and happy marriage.
Most of us have a misfit mindset. We feel we don’t fit in any available space of the grid of life, longing for an alter ego that seems superior to the identity we were given, but is actually flawed. Dutch Masters & Marvellous Misfits was created with the intention of including the fish out of water, for the sake of inclusiveness – a word that has been overused to lure voters to politicians and buyers to webshops. Genuine inclusiveness does however not mean being on fleek on Flickr, nor does it reflect any other social media perfection. Instead it represents embracing the misfits who we are.
Dutch Masters and misfits are much more alike than one would think. Misfits are greater masters than they are given credit for - they are marvellous misfits. FotoFestival Naarden 2019 shows work of those who neatly fit within the realms of labels and norms of Dutch Masters, alongside artwork and photography by those who don’t. Dutch Masters & Marvellous Misfits tells the stories of people and their landscapes, the latter in the sense of sceneries and thoughts. It tells the tales of our best and worst moments, from self-loathing to self-love, and the marvellous in-between.
Exhibition in collaboration with the Dutch National Railways NS, the Dutch National Portrait Gallery, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Museum de Fundatie, Noordbrabants Museum, Drents Museum and Museum Arnhem.
I asked six photographers to make new work based on paintings from the museum’s collections. A new generation of portrait makers thus connected to existing portraits, showing the importance of incessant reflection on prejudices and differences and the need to create a society which is not only tolerant but also respectful to those who deviate.
Koos Breukel is a photographer of ordinary people and celebrities. There is a clear egalitarianism in his work and in him. Breukel photographs children and students, artists and politicians, seamen and transsexuals, the Dutch king and queen.
Nominated for the Deutsche Börse/Photographers’ Gallery Best European Photo Exhibition.
Photographer Nick Hedges spent three years visiting areas of deprivation throughout the UK to create his seminal body of work for the housing charity Shelter. Launched in December 1966 (the same month as Ken Loach’s influential TV drama ‘Cathy Come Home’) Shelter put paid to the myth that only people living on the streets were homeless. Hedges photographed slum housing in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and London, documenting the distressing conditions faced by more than 3 million people. At the time it was unusual for a documentary photographer to focus on domestic issues - war and international stories held
sway. After decades in archival boxes, Hedges’ stunning photographs could finally be made public in this exhibition, which proved to address today’s issues, as a Channel 4 documentary spin-off made clear.
For the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam I curated this exhibition with Iris Sikking in 2008. In 2009, we curated an adapted version for the National Media Museum (UK).
'Babies have been captured since the dawn of photography in 1839, and their photographs offer a splendid view of the developments of the medium. Van Erp and Sikking managed to create a presentation that was clearly based on solid scientific research into - principally Western - baby photography. Their selection, however, does not come across as too academic, and at the same time it avoids the pitfall of soft clichés. Which is quite an achievement, as everybody knows how one can see the world in bright pink when babies are involved.’
Merel Bem in Dutch daily De Volkskrant
'In the two centuries that photography has been practical, it has created a means of communication, the understanding of which is essential to anyone navigating our visual world. From Daguerre’s early images to the real-life sharing of Instagram, photography has never really been ‘the truth’, though nor is it necessarily dishonest. It is ambiguous, complicated and subjective, fleeting and lasting at the same time. In ten chapters, Van Erp and Bright introduce the best examples and show you how you can ‘read’ every image'.
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet displays the work of Daniel Cohen, Ryan McGinley, James Mollison, Alex Vanhee, Dean Chalkley, Alex Salinas, Michael Schmelling and many others. It has intimate behind-the-scenes views of the music world, eccentric group portraits and iconic album cover material. All these photographers as well as the authors share one thing: a love for music. The first-ever book with a free online Spotify-soundscape.
Authors: Rein Deslé, Luc Janssen, Hedy van Erp
Dutch and English, 216 pages
Hedy van Erp, Des Wilson, Greg Hobson, Campbell Robb
Science Museum, London
English, 112 pages
Hedy van Erp
Dutch and English
Photographers include: Boris Mikhailov, Oscar Rejlander, Sally Mann, Weegee, Rineke Dijkstra, Koos Breukel, Southworh and Hawes, August Sander, Sebastiao Salgado, Andres Serrano, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Larry Clark, Mary Ellen Mark, Madame Yevonde, David Seymour, Lennart Nilsson, Peter Martens, Ed van der Elsken, Bruce Davidson, Jacob Riis, Julia Margaret Cameron and Lee To Sang.
Concept, selection and edit:
Hedy van Erp and Iris Sikking
Text: Peter Handke
Design: Victor Levie
In 2016 and 2017, I was a jury member of the Dutch Photographic Portrait Prize.
Exciting to see so much Dutch portrait talent…
I write essays and articles for international news and art magazines on various subjects, such as multimedia photo stories, truth and beauty in photography, the work of James Mollison, Peter Martens, observing children in art videos, the shelf life of photographs in museum collections.
And many more subjects.
For collectors and companies with a photography collection, or those who wish to create one, I advise on acquisition, building a collection and, equally important, the best ways to preserve the works.