I would like to talk about two young photographers, one Dutch and the other Belgian. One whom I have known for some time and who never ceases to surprise me, the other I discovered recently at a fair.
After a period of abstinence (on doctor’s orders) from visiting galleries, on the last day before closing time, you enter a gallery, without expectations, without preconceived ideas. And you see images with subtle colours, with all nuances, but above all of great quality. Then you start to write…
Dewinter chose the title Sunday’s Child for her exhibition, and as I started writing I realized that the expression does not have a French equivalent. In Germanic languages, it refers to a joyful and impetuous child, a child for whom all days are Sundays or all days are holidays.
Our childhood shapes us, sometimes more than we realise. Some time ago I had a conversation with a German psychologist, her research topic is trauma of children in war. She said that conflicts and wars are traumatic not only for the adults and children who experience them, but also, for example, for the children’s children. And she is right, the post-war generation also carries some of the trauma of the war generations, which gives food for thought when thinking about the children of current conflicts around the world.
Youth is a different time from the adulthood. For example, children look at a camera lens without bias, no they don’t see that lens and they don’t feel the need to pose. Children experience time differently: the days are long, the holidays endless, while we as adults barely have time to take everything all in and the clock seems to be ticking more and more quickly. Children do not see harm and accept what is around them, even if it is threatening.
And that is what Joëlle Dewinter’s work is all about, she explains:
We are born vulnerable and we survive our childhood. In fact, we remain defined by this throughout our lives. Your childhood helps determine who you will be later on. Yet we pay too little attention to this. Because of the disciplining that gradually takes over in our everyday activities, people can lose this feeling. Building blocks and accumulated baggage define your life as an adult.
Project Joelle tells us to nurture the child within us. According to her, we should not condemn this as escapism – because isn’t stepping out of our daily grind for a while one of the coping mechanisms, survival mechanisms we all know?
Joëlle Dewinter’s images feel like a warm summer breeze or a nice blanket in winter. Are they a nostalgic look back, or a regained lightheartedness – I leave it to the viewer. Many words to say – a fine selection, a talented photographer and an exhibition where a rerun can be considered… No: please allow me to correct myself , should definitely be reprogrammed.
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Joëlle is represented by
Nationale 8 Gallery
1180 Brussel (Rivoli Building) Belgium
+32 496 80 70 74
+32 475 84 66 80
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