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The Dutch Photo Museum is an important value in the Dutch landscape of photography institutions. With a beautiful location and fascinating exhibitions, a visit is also highly recommended during Art Rotterdam with two exhibitions during regular opening hours and a third between sunset to sunrise.

Claudia Heinermann: SIBERIAN EXILES: Baltic testimonies of Soviet repression 4 feb. till 21st may 2023   (images 1-6) 

The Nederlands Fotomuseum presents SIBERIAN EXILES: Baltic testimonies of Soviet repression by photographer Claudia Heinermann. The trilogy details the Soviet Union’s occupation of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania between 1940 and 1991. This part of European history is hardly known in Western Europe. During the Soviet Union’s annexation, mass deportations, executions, and arrests took place. These collective traumas have left deep scars on the population. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, old fears have been revived. But why is this fear so intense, and what is its cause? Based on personal stories from eyewitnesses and relatives, Claudia Heinermann takes us into a hidden history.

“No one has ever been convicted of the crimes against humanity the Soviets committed. This was openly discussed for the first time after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. However, in Putin’s Russia, Stalin’s past is again being brushed under the carpet. Hence, it is vital the stories the Iron Curtain hid from view are not only heard but also preserved to ensure correct historiography.”

In three parts, eyewitnesses recount the deportation of women and children to remote areas in Siberia, life in the Gulag camps, the organised resistance against the Soviet occupiers, and the beginning of the Cold War.

Parts and 3 of Siberian Exiles have also been released as a publication. Part 2 is scheduled to be published in April 2023.

The gallery of honour of Dutch photography The development of 180 years of photography   (images 7-9) (permanent exhibition, with regurarly changing images)

It is the world’s first permanent gallery to honour photography as a contemporary and topical medium. In the Gallery of Honour, 99 photos tell the story of photography in the Netherlands from 1842 to the present day. The Gallery shows the highlights, the innovations, and the great steps photographers have made, from the invention of photography to the unique technological innovations of today.

The Gallery of Honour starts off by showing the earliest examples of photographs, known as daguerreotypes, and showcases work by dozens of photographers who explored boundaries, developed new techniques, and brought about innovation – from black and white images to colour photography and the digital age. Through six time periods, the visitor is taken through the fascinating development of 180 years of photography.

The Gallery of Honour consists of 99 iconic works, plus one empty frame. This symbolises the photograph that – consciously or subconsciously – was not chosen or noticed, not known or not (yet) appreciated. The public can pick this ‘missing photo’ themselves. In this way, the Gallery of Honour invites everyone to offer a response to the current selection of photographs. Visitors can add their own +1 photo with a special app during their visit to the Gallery of Honour.


Dirk Hardy – Vivarium – till February 12 from sundown till sunrise  – Free, visible on the outside of the museum!   (images 10-12)

Vivarium by Dirk Hardy is a projection on the museum’s windows. The photographer realised a series of hyper-realistic dioramas in which he highlights different aspects of the human condition.

“Stories help us understand other perspectives. By welcoming the viewer to a multitude of worlds, I want to enhance our ability to connect and live together.”- Dirk Hardy

Originally, Vivarium is the umbrella term for any artificially recreated ecosystem, such as a terrarium or aquarium. Dirk Hardy applies this term to humans by placing one or more characters in a carefully designed environment. Hardy has been working on Vivarium since 2018. Currently, the project consists of ten hyper-realistic episodes. Each Episode has its own theme – for this, Hardy fuses his imagination, personal observations ánd real events into one social-critical story, designing, building and photographing a new world in his studio each time.

Dirk Hardy (1989) lives and works in The Hague. Hardy first studied Architecture at Eindhoven University of Technology before turning to Photography at the Willem de Kooning Academy. At Photo Basel 2019 (Switzerland), Hardy had his first international exhibition with Void. Hardy launched Vivarium in 2021 as a nominee for the Aesthetica Art Prize at the York Art Gallery (UK).

Nederlands Fotomuseum
Statendam 1
3072 MD Rotterdam
Tues. to Sun. : 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.


The Kunsthal always manages to offer a very diverse but high-quality range of exhibitions. During Art Rotterdam, it is no different. Photography lovers will find the exhibition Hafiz by Sabiha Çimen, there is the exhibition “In the Black Fantastic” and finally the project Madeleine Berkhemer. Body of Work around the artist Madeleine Berkhemer (1973-2019).

Sabiha Çimen Hafiz   14 January until 7 May 2023 (images 13-15)

Kunsthal Rotterdam presents the exhibition ‘Hafiz’ by the Turkish photographer Sabiha Çimen (1986). For her photo series, Çimen portrayed students of Turkish Quran schools for girls that teach the memorisation of the verses of the Quran. These students are studying to achieve the title of ‘hafiz’, which would make them ‘guardians of Islam’. In powerful portraits, alternating with everyday images of school life, Çimen aims to capture the individuality and adventurous characters of these young women, while at the same time referring to her own experiences of studying at a Quran school. Interlaced with a sense of nostalgia, Çimen focuses her lens on the contemporary reality of life in this closed-off world. During the Paris Photo Fair 2022, Çimen received the First Photobook Award for her debut photo book Hafiz.

For this project, Çimen spent four years photographing at five different Quran schools in Turkey. Although some of these schools also offer secular lessons, the girls – who are between eight and nineteen years-old – mainly spend their time memorising the Quran. This tradition originates from the early days of Islam and is considered to be an important and honourable act of faith. Once they are able to recite the Quran, the students are given the title of hafiz and, according to Islam, will be rewarded by Allah in paradise. With her Hasselblad camera, Çimen has managed to capture a glimpse of a world that outsiders are usually forbidden to see. Because she attended a Quran school herself, she was able to get access and gain the trust of the girls. With Hafiz, Çimen aims to give us an insight into the lives of these young women. She offers them an opportunity to show their own identity and, in a nuanced way, wants to shed light on this closed community within Turkish society.

Sabiha Çimen

Sabiha Çimen (1986, Turkey) is a self-taught photographer who in her work focuses on women, Islamic culture, portraits, and still life. Çimen became a Magnum Nominee Member in 2020 and is now working as an associate photographer within the agency. Her work has appeared in publications like The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. During the Paris Photo Fair 2022, Çimen received the First Photobook Award for her debut photo book Hafiz.

In the Black Fantastic 19 November 2022 – 9 April 2023    (images 16-18)

 After a very successful initial run at the Hayward Gallery in London, this autumn the exhibition ‘In the Black Fantastic’ is presented in Kunsthal Rotterdam. The audience is invited to immerse themselves in an experience at the intersection of reality and a variety of fantastical worlds. Eleven contemporary artists from the African Diaspora have created seductive, energetic, and colourful works that contain powerful messages. Using their limitless power of imagination and technical virtuosity, the artists are addressing racism and social inequality. They take inspiration from folklore, myth, science fiction, spiritual traditions, and Afrofuturism.

The exhibition includes Nick Cave’s legendary Soundsuits, works from the Watery Ecstatic series by Ellen Gallagher, which combine myth and the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and Wangechi Mutu’s compelling video work The End of eating Everything, depicting the monstrous nature of mass consumption.

A new Odyssey

The exhibition presents paintings, photographs, videos, sculptures, and mixed-media installations by Nick Cave, Sedrick Chisom, Ellen Gallagher, Hew Locke, Wangechi Mutu, Rashaad Newsome, Chris Ofili, Tabita Rezaire, Cauleen Smith, Lina Iris Viktor, and Kara Walker. These artists are reshaping the way in which we imagine the past and think about the future.

Madeleine Berkhemer. Body of Work January 28 -May 7  2023    (images 19-21)

 Seduction and the (own) female body are central to the work of Madeleine Berkhemer (1973-2019). Kunsthal Rotterdam presents an overview of this Rotterdam-based artist’s work in honour of her 50th anniversary of her birth. Whatever genre or material she employs, her art should excite, tease and seduce. Berkhemer is rather a locally known artist, unjustly so in my opinion: it fits in with the work of the artists Pierre Molinier (French, 1900-1976) or the Liliane Vertessen (Belgian, 1952).

Berkhemer sees sensuality and eroticism as fundamental parts of life. She uses various art forms and techniques in her research into the power of the (female) body and how it evokes both lust and discomfort. Berkhemer works across genres: she makes drawings, collages, (wall) sculptures, installations and performances, often using her own body, as well as a generous portion of guts.

Berkhemer begins her career by studying fashion at the Willem de Kooning Academy and a graduation collection that makes clothes so minimal that they form only a rubber band around the midriff. She is assistant to Martin Margiela for several years, works with Christian Louboutin, but still chooses the path of autonomous art.

Milly – Molly – Mandy (the call sign of a little girl from an English children’s book from the first half of the last century) are Berkhemer’s alter egos. These characters allow her to deploy different aspects of herself in her work. In her performances, as well as in collages, photography, drawings and installations – on display at the Kunsthal – Berkhemer deepens, uses and reuses these characters. The three characters are extremely seductive and provocative. By photographing herself as Milly, Molly and Mandy, she plays a (role) game with the influence exerted by the female body. Looking at it, but also being looked at.

Kunsthal Rotterdam
Museumpark, Westzeedijk 341
3015 AA Rotterdam
The Netherlands

John Devos

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