Saturday, July 08, 2006

Bert Teunissen

Dwelling on the threshold

Interiors that fit the residents like a glove. Accommodations that tactily come across as a little worn, a jacket with patches at the elbows that has become one with its wearer and should have been given to the dustman a long time ago, but the fit is so perfect that it is impossible to part with. What you sense, more so than actually seeing it, is peaceful surrender.

This is the merit of Bert Teunissen. In all rooms photographed the same natural light comes in. Regardless of class or status, the portrayed subjects feel at ease in their own trusted environment. The harmony remains undisturbed, even in the presence of the photographer. No attack or invasion, no intrusion or brutal interference. No stack of photo equipment, no huge light set-up that changes the interior's appearance and make the occupants temporarily feel like a cat in a strange warehouse. Only a photographer with an archaic large-format camera and a nostalgic black cloth which he hides under. Long exposures require the portayed subject to sit still for a short while. Long enough to get in touch with theirselves, becoming one with the trusted environment and completely forgetting about the photographer.

Ravages of time
Normally, a photographer stops time for an instance. But here time is standing still already. Time has passed these lives without touching them. Everything in the photo is the way it is, the way it used to be, the way it should stay forever. The photos of Bert Teunissen(1959) remind us of the paintings by Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hoogh. He photographs simple interiors that have resisted the ravages of time. During a ten-year quest, Teunissen found these places in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Japan. Their common denominator is the natural light coming in. Many childhood memories have gone, but daylight coming in through the bay window in the house that he was born in is still engraved in Teunissen's memory. That is what he is trying to capture in his photos. But not only the authentic light, the residents are also an essential part of his images. Teunissen's ‘Domestic Landscapes’ are a monument to the individuals who remained true to themselves, free from fashion trends and the issues of the day.

©Pim Milo, 2006

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