This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Street Photography by Hans Eijkelboom from Amsterdam

That there is not much humor at documenta may well be true, but whoever finds themselves in front of the work of Dutch artist Hans Eijkelboom is guaranteed to smile or even laugh. This artist from Amsterdam shows people whom he (secretly) photographs on the street. These people are dressed in strikingly similar ways, and when displayed together in one picture this can have a comic effect – and in a way they seem even profound, as the egalitarian aspect of fashion trends is suddenly so obvious to the eye. Many visitors stand in animated conversation in front of the photographs and ask: Where can I find this guy again?

documenta gave Hans Eijkelboom a room to himself at the Stadtmuseum Kassel. We get lucky and meet him there.

A work of art in two hours

The artist is one of these friendly, open Dutchmen and answers our questions candidly. How long does it take to make a series like this? “I just need two hours,” he says. “If it was days or even weeks, it would lose its appeal and wouldn’t be anything special”. He can easily find the motifs in any city center. After five to ten minutes he’ll have an idea about what the series of the day should look like.

The pictures are more or less shot from the hip in passing. The photo hunter does not ask all his subjects for permission. “No, I don’t have time for that; that would take forever”. He looks for a theme, secretly takes his pictures, and later puts them all together to create a finished piece. Clearly no one has yet complained about being part of a work of art without being asked.

From the “documenta 14: Daybook“ I gather that Hans Eijkelboom has turned this photographic conceptual art practically into a passion – since the beginning of the 90s he has been visiting cities around the world making these series, with his main focus always on the outer appearance and dress code. The artists creates a “document of arresting sameness”, writes curator Dieter Roelstraete. With this, Eijkelboom belongs to the forerunners of conceptual photography in Europe. His works have been exhibited all over the world, including a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

One of the special aspects of documenta is that individual motifs or works of the artists can be found again in other locations – and that plays right into the theme of this exhibit. And so it was that, one day later in the Neue Galerie, I stumbled across an early piece by Eijkelboom titled “The three Communists”. Yes, it was a long time ago, way back in 1975, but the artist can still be easily recognized in the photos. 😉

more about the pieces by Hans Eijkelboom: