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Exhibitions

FLAMENCO versus PHOTOGRAPHY

Some thoughts while preparing my exhibition in WOW Leiden. Ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands.

All things considered it's adultery: taking pictures during a flamenco performance. I'm absorbed by the rhythm, mesmerized by the singing but nevertheless, suddenly, I'm tempted to capture an image.
Not surprising really because flamenco is very attractive visually too. The dance poses naturally, but also the gestures and facial expressions of singers and musicians. A hand clinging to a shawl or jacket, an outstretched hand that argues or begs, the look in the eyes of a guitarist who’s meticulously following the emotions of a singer or dancer …
So it’s quite understandable, this inclination to take pictures. But it’s a pity as well: suddenly prosaic matters are important. Whether that face will be visible behind that mike, whether that outstretched hand will fit inside the frame, how to prevent overexposure of faces and hands in that spotlight ... et cetera. Suddenly listening and even watching have become a side issue; I'm looking fórward, anticipating the photo.

Consequently my images are not a reflection of my most intense experiences. Actually they are reminders of missed experiences, or in any case limited experiences. And so you could also call it abstention: taking pictures during a flamenco performance. Something I can’t endure for more than a few minutes and often not at all. Frankly, I'm glad when photographing is prohibited.
Needless to say, this collection of photographs is not an overview of my favorite flamenco artists. That is to say: many artists are lacking, simply because I could or would not photograph them.

Attending a flamenco performance is a thrilling experience. An immersion in soul piercing melancholy, intense exuberance, passion; an emotional realm in which I feel at home. But of course I’m not. I’m an aficionada, heart and soul, but Dutch, an outsider. And if you look at it that way, for me the relationship flamenco-photography is fitting, the lens symbolic for the illusive wall between me and this overwhelming artform.

By the way, just becáúse I'm an outsider I am far more reserved while taking pictures than the Spaniards are. Even when LCD screens around me are illuminating the room, I do my very best not to disturb my fellow spectators. I am the one looking through the viewfinder. I am the one who lets many (also visually) breathtaking moments pass by, waiting for a less intimate moment. No one in the audience should hear the clicking of my camera. I definitely don’t want to distract a singer, musician or dancer.

If at all possible, I give them prints of my photographs later on. To say thanks, to give something in return. In this context my shyness has occasionally led to comical situations. I remember, for example, the time I wanted to give photos to young singer Carlos Cruz. Because I didn’t feel like posting at the stage door I decided to throw the envelope on stage during the final applause. Whistling, hilarity among the audience was the result; people thought it was a love letter. Which in a way it wás: a declaration of love for his arte. And a confession of my adultery of course.
So henceforth I handed them over personally, and less and less shy: although many of the portrayed artists are omnipresent on Instagram, Facebook and the like, I’ve learned they don’t often see themselves like they will be shown in WOW Leiden: in black and white on paper.

Of course many of these pictures are also present right here.