There is a story of Isidore Rabi (1898), Nobel-prize winner for physics, and how his mother would always ask him, when he got home from school: 'Izzy, did you ask a good question today?' Every other child would come back from school and be asked, 'What did you learn today?' But his mother stimulated him to be a question-asker. Without even knowing it, Isidore explains later, his mother made him into a scientist (after Sachs 2012).
The photographs on the homepage and in the gallery originate from true engagement, as well as a delight in seeing, and wondering what it is that we are looking at. I hope this incremental gallery creates an opportunity for others to do the same, and make the connection to the objects of their own work.
You will notice there are few to no people in the images. There is such beautiful openness and tension in seeing land where the activity of people is so obvious - yet the actual people invisible at the moment. Perhaps we more readily identify with the scene because the photograph is no longer about the exotic other. The subject is the man-made world - the human ecosystem - that has evolved.
My lexicon is that of realism. Photography for me originated in witnessing what are perhaps less common places to travel, and wanting to capture it. Gradually, the perspective changed to a "disembodied" one. So often we are too immersed, we quickly judge what we face. What if we take a step back, ask ourselves: what is going on here at a systemic level? In photography we can take a "mountain view", instead of 'looking at the world through a keyhole of 35 mm, cutting out an illusion from reality' (Mitchell 2001:13). My experimentation with wide-angle is still full on. While I hardly ever use macro lenses, at times I actually do love 35mm, as it gives the feel of film, a narrative.
Visually, a photograph has an aesthetic and poetry of its own. As the Anglican priest M.T. Wright (2008) writes, beauty matters, almost as much as spirituality and justice.
Sometimes when we look at a photograph, it tests our capacity for explanation. Our ability to give it meaning. To convey vocabulary. 'In particular, photography can provoke this failure of translation. (...) The most powerful photographs, in fact, steal our words. They resist explication or resolution, refuse our comprehension, render us speechless. Stilling time, preserving the ghost of a moment to be revisited in perpetuity, photography conjures the past, feeds the present, and hints at the future. Mere words can hardly contend with the magic of its revelation' (Mitchell 2009:167).
Possibly the seeing, the asking can then move on to making the connection to our own ability to meaningfully engage with our own environment and its people.
Have a look at a little art gallery I made, as a modular/dynamic plug in to this html framework, in collaboration with the artist Gerco de Ruijter:
Artist Highlight the skin of the earth global rush for fresh water.
What happens on the land market when a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program is introduced to the peri-urban area?
Water tank deep into the periphery in north-east Brazil, 2014.
Breimer, Tikvah 2014. Preparing for rapid urbanization in the land market of the peri-urban interface (PUI). Cairo (EGY): ARCHCAIRO.
Breimer, Tikvah 2015. Paradigm Shifts; (Informal) Urban expansion; anticipation and preparation. Joint Research Centre (JRC) European Commission (EC), Urbanisation in Europe and the World, Expert workshop, Milan, Italy, Presentation and Guided interaction, May 28.
Burtynsky, Edward. 2009. Oil. Steidl.site
Burtynsky, Edward. 2003. Manufactored Landscapes. National Gallery of Canada, Yale University Press.site
Guzman, Antonio Jose. 2014. Portfolio. In Newdawn, No. 3. For more photography by this photographer from Panama see: aguzman.com
Mitchel, M. 2001. More urgent than beauty. In Quarries, Burtynski, Edward. Gottingen (GE): Steidl.
Rieniets, T., Sigler, J., and K. Christiaanse (eds). 2009. Open City: Designing Coexistence. Publication accompanying the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam at Nederlands Architecture Institute (NAi). Amsterdam (NL): SUN Publishers.
Roth, P. 2009. Essay. In Oil, Burtynski, Edward. Gottingen (GE): Steidl.
Sachs, Lord Johnathan Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. 2009. Did you ask a good question today?
Wright, N.T. 2008. Surprised by Hope; rethinking heaven, the resurrection and the mission of the church. Uncorrected proof.