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Galerie Caroline O’Breen : Arjan de Nooy : Photology


Galerie Caroline O’Breen (Amsterdam, NL) is presenting the brand new photobook ‘Photology’ (2023) by Arjan de Nooy, well-known for his book-making. The release is celebrated with an exhibition centered around this body of work. ‘Photology’ is a photobook about photography played by the author. Inspired by the work of the Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser (1920-1991), who thought photography fundamentally changed the way the world is seen, Arjan de Nooy puts forward his own view on photography in 20 propositions. The title refers both to the study of the medium as well as to the logic of photography games.

Using found photographs, postcards, online images and photo simulations, De Nooy constructs an overview of photography. He organized the book by topical categories like history, chance, style, information, genres (such as portrait), and photography theorists, without aiming at objectivity or completeness. Each category is explored from De Nooy’s individual perspective and treated in a distinctive, sometimes whimsical, manner.

The exhibition displays a variety of chapters from Photology: The Miff Anomaly, Exercise in Style, People of the 20th Century, Collage trouvé, In Search of Originals. 

The Miff Anomaly is an anagram of The Family of Man, an ambitious exhibition of 503 photographs from 68 countries, organised by Edward Steichen in 1955. The catalogue that accompanied the exhibition is by now the most printed photography book in history. De Nooy collaged the original issues of the catalogue and reworked them for a new, fictional, exhibition: The Miff Anomaly.

Exercise in Style is based on the literary work Exercices de style (1974) by the French writer Raymond Queneau. Queneau presents a simple story in 99 different ways, and the book became a classic. Set in Paris, the story revolves around a young man on a bus getting into an argument. A little later, the same man has a conversation about a button in front of the Saint-Lazare train station. De Nooy selected all sentences mentioning ‘gare Saint-Lazare’ and collected buttons and postcards showing the station in 99 different styles.

People of the 20th Century refers to the eponymous magnum opus of photographer August Sander. This series by Arjan de Nooy comprises collages made of the found footage from his own photography collection. Just like Sander, De Nooy categorizes people. But unlike him, the categories here are constructed according to the activities shown in the photo: people dining, people swimming, or people taking a vacation photo by the railing, to name a few.

Arjan de Nooy (NL, 1965) has a background in both chemistry and photography. The artist is well-known for his book-making and museum shows, often together with Anne Geene. Together they made several award-winning books like Ornithology and The Universal Photographer which resulted in a museum exhibition at Kunstmuseum Den Haag. Other past exhibitions of Arjan de Nooy include Het Nederlands Fotomuseum, Fotomuseum Den Haag, Natural History Museum, Van Goghhuis, Museum Jan Cunen, Marres, Biënnale Drenthe and others. Arjan de Nooy employs a combination of original photographs and found imagery in his artistic practice. The stories he constructs give the photographs an artificial context and therefore give them their meanings. An ongoing project is a fictional history of Dutch photography, in which both oeuvres and biographies of fictional photographers are presented as contemplative texts. Parts of this project can be found on and in the publications De facto (2009), Haarscherp (2012) and Party Photographer (2014).


Exhibition and book presentation
Arjan de Nooy : Photology
April 14 – April 29, 2023
Galerie Caroline O’Breen
Hazenstraat 54
1016 SR Amsterdam
316 471 044 84
Open Wed-Fri 12-6 pm, Sat 1-6 pm and by appointment

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