Myopia by Hillie de Rooij and a selection from Africa Junctions by Lard Buurman

Since 2007, Het Nutshuis in The Hague has shown a growing interest in photography, a development that has resulted in five photography exhibitions per year. The first exhibition of the year is traditionally organised together with the Royal Academy of Art, and this year from 16 February onwards, it will be followed by Afrika Herzien [Africa Re-viewed]. This exhibition in Het Nutshuis will feature the series Myopia by photographer Hillie de Rooij and a selection from Africa Junctions by photographer Lard Buurman.

African cities are largely invisible cities, of which we only have a limited perception. The series Myopia by Hillie de Rooij is about the European way of looking at things. The photographer shows pictures that appear to have been taken in Africa, showing how easy it is for people to interpret what they think they are seeing. The title of her series, Myopia, means being able to focus on what is close by, but seeing distant objects as a blur. Lard Buurman on the other hand, brings distant objects into focus, putting African urbanity into an everyday perspective. He examines the way these cities tick, and unveils the imperceptible networks that evolve from informal interaction.

A selection from Africa Junctions by Lard Buurman

Millions of people live in an urban culture totally unlike anything we have ever experienced. What does life in a city marked by chaos and a lack of infrastructure entail? How does that society work? Which networks evolve from the informal interaction? How does African urban development compare with that of other global cities? With these questions at the back of his mind, Lard Buurman spent from 2008 to 2013 working on his current project about African towns and cities. He visited a total of 14 cities in 12 countries across the continent: Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Luanda, Lagos, Kampala, Nairobi, Dakar, Douala, Kinshasa, Cape Town, Casablanca, Cairo en Alexandria.

Lard: ‘So-called ‘normal life’ is always at the forefront of my constructed pictures. This would appear to be an abnormal view of the African context. Most documentaries about Johannesburg show violent robberies. Area boys are in charge in Lagos. This is all true, but it’s only part of a much bigger, more obscure picture. I want to show the rest of this bigger picture of urban life. From housing developments and central business districts right through to the slums. I go into all these contrasting districts looking for life on the streets, and space. I show the image without the drama.’ Lard is exhibiting a selection of two monumental works and a site-specific installation from this project.

Lard Buurman’s first book is due to be published in late April by Hatje Cantz. It is entitled Africa Junctions, capturing the city. (Editor: Nina Folkersma, design: Roosje Klap)

Myopia by Hillie de Rooij

Hillie de Rooij spent the past year travelling through Europe in search of ideal locations for her series Myopia. She took photos in Greece and England, for example, and even travelled to Norway for one picture, where she sought the suggestion of an African landscape. She is now ready for her final journey to capture the only image still missing from her series. Once she has found it, she will concentrate on shaping the book that will ultimately tell the story of Myopia. She is compiling the book together with writer and journalist Jan Postma and author Liselotte ten Voorde. It is due to be published in late 2014.

The pictures in the Myopia series are not a portrayal of Africa, but a representation of the European way of looking at things. This is what captures Hillie’s interest. She likes to explore the way that people interpret pictures and more specifically, how this affects their view of the world. The visual imagery endlessly repeated by photographers and image makers plays a major role in influencing the ‘interpreting habits’ of the public.

The opening

The opening will take place at 17.00 hrs. on Sunday 16 February, following the programme of Fotoboek! Jellie Brouwer (of Kunststof Radio) will interview Hillie and Lard about their forthcoming books, and include a few questions for the designers and writers.