Liedeke Kruk

Love at first sight

10 May - 22 June 2008

In addition to films and video installations, Liedeke Kruk (Dieren, 1959) has produced a great number of photographs over the past fifteen years. About a hundred of these are now being shown in the project space. They include large portraits of visual artists, artists from other disciplines, exhibition makers and one gallery owner. The lastest ones have been done very recently, and the earliest are from the early nineties. That was the point at which Liedeke Kruk decided to start using her camera, originally bought for the documentation of her own work, as a means to portray the art world.

Initially Liedeke Kruk photographed in black-and-white. In 1994 she purchased a polaroid camera, her favorite medium ever since. Many of the photographs have been taken during the installation of exhibitions, at openings or at dinners held afterward. Nevertheless, the art business as such remains almost entirely out of view. Even when an artist is shown with his or her own work, the presence of the artwork seems to have minor importance. The documentary aspect of the photographs is a secondary matter. Liedeke Kruk is more concerned with other qualities. Her main criterion for a successful portrait is its authenticity. In her photographs she is not apt to ‘stage’ things. Nor does she aim to capture ‘reality’ just when the subject thinks no one is looking. Her photographs derive their strength of expression from the relationship between the photographer and the subject. A preference for the polaroid already implies a closeness to the subject being photographed. But in the figurative sense, too, a closeness can be sensed. Kruk attempts to combine two seemingly opposite qualities in her photographs: the lasting quality of a meaningful portrait and the fleeting quality of the moment at which the photographer recogonizes that in reality. In order to capture the momentariness of her own observation, she uses the technical imperfections of the polaroid as an expressive means. The harsh contrasts of light and shadow, overexposure, the lack of detail and the somewhat smudgy texture have been employed as a way of heightening the intimate and vulnerable character of the registered moment. Her photographs show a convergence of singularities – that of the subject, the photographer and the medium. Such an encounter can only succeed when everything remains undetermined from the start. 

What becomes particularly evident with this exhibition is the idea that an individual’s authenticity can be portrayed in a surprising number of different ways: not only through clothing, facial expression, a stance or gesture, but also through composition and the cropping of the image, through light and shadows, focus and the lack of it, by making a close-up of the subject or by placing the subject in a specific environment, and through the contact (visible or not) between the photographer and the subject. Kruk makes individual and combined use of all those means. Entering the project space is like walking into a three-dimensional family album. The connections among the portrait subjects as a group play a role in this, as does the length of time in which the project took shape. Because of that, it moreover assumes the quality of a period document. But the main aspect is the great intimacy conveyed in these photographs, despite their monumental sizes. And that is the contribution of the photographer herself, who keeps on allowing us to participate in her own gaze.

For the duration of the exhibition, the film Among Others, made by Liedeke Kruk in 1995/2002, will be shown in the auditorium on Sunday afternoons at 3 pm.