Hans Eijkelboom
Hans Eijkelboom

How was 2014 for Hans Eijkelboom?

The Dutch photographer found enlightenment in Portuguese poetry and British shopping centres

When Hans Eijkelboom says he plans to reinvent the photo essay, his words should be heeded. The Dutch photographer has worked within the European avant-garde for over forty years, producing series-upon-series of images that both question the role of the picture maker, and our own place within society.

Earlier this year, his book People of the Twenty-First Century, served as a timely corrective to street style blogs like The Sartorialist and Humans of New York, showing that, across the world, in an age of individualism, just how alike we have all become. Yet, as Eijkelboom's answers below indicate, he isn’t laughing at us, but rather delighting in this very modern style of street pageantry.

So what can we expect in 2015, when Hans promises to unveil some new modes of photographic essay making, using the citizens of both Amsterdam and Birmingham? Well, he doesn’t outline his plans explicitly, though both the good folk of the Netherlands and the British Midlands should perhaps get ready to view themselves in very different ways.

 

Detail from August, Amsterdam 2003 - Hans Eijkelboom, People of the 21st Century
Detail from August, Amsterdam 2003 - Hans Eijkelboom, People of the 21st Century

__What was the thing that inspired you most this year? __

"The most inspiring thing I came across was the poem A Rua or The Street, by the Portuguese poet Joao do Rio." 

_'I love the street. I would not reveal to you a feeling of such intimate nature did I not consider, had I not reason to consider that this love, such absolute, such exaggerated love, is shared by you all. We are brothers, we feel alike, we feel akin in the towns, in the villages, in the settlements; not because we suffer from afflictions and irritations, the law and the police, but because the love of the street unites us, levels us, brings us together. This is indeed the unassailable, indissoluble feeling, which alone, like life itself, survives the ages and the eras. Everything is transformed, everything changes — love, hate, selfishness. Smiles are bitterer today; irony more painful. The centuries pass, slip away, taking with them the futile occurrences and momentous events. All that persists and remains is the ever-growing legacy of generations, is the love of the street.'- _Rio de Janeiro, 1905.

 

__What was your personal working highlight this year? __

"I was pleased to see that my earlier work, from the period 1973 – 1980, has not yet lost value. During the exhibition at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2014 my work was proclaimed by various commentators to be the highlight of the event. There is little better than to enjoy it all in the beautiful southern French town of Arles. And of course the other big highlight was the publication of my book People of the Twenty-First Century by Phaidon."

 

With my Family (1973) by Hans Eijkelboom
With my Family (1973) by Hans Eijkelboom

What can we expect from you in 2015?

"This year I worked hard for the British arts organisation, Multistory in Birmingham, UK. There, I tried out new things in an environment that seemed to have been specially made for me. In 2015 there will be a book and an exhibition made around this project. I hope this will give the term 'photo essay' a new meaning. Furthermore, I will also work intensively in the city I live, Amsterdam. This project will take a new form – one that I have not used before, but one that I have been thinking about for around ten years."

Take a look at People of the Twenty-First Century here.