Since first picking up a camera in 2009, photographer Bastiaan Woudt has generated an incredible oeuvre of black and white images that blur the distinctions between photographs and surreal paintings. Rather than focusing on the crisp details of perfect light and shadow, the photographer embraces stark contrast and hazy glitches catalyzed by movement. For his recent project Mukono, Woudt visited the Ugandan district of the same name to create a photographic series for the Marie-Stella-Maris Foundation, an Amsterdam-based organization that uses profits from water sales to set up clean drinking projects all over the world.
In October 2017, Woudt photographed the individuals and scenery around a new well that was established by the foundation. Disinterested in focusing on the well specifically, he instead honed in on its surroundings. “I was interested in the people in the community living around the project,” he explains. “There was a well, and I was not interested in making pictures of it, but I was interested in making pictures of people who use the well and who were living around it.”
The resulting photographs are an extension of the painterly aesthetic that Woudt expertly developed over the past few years, without any professional experience or formal training. Striking monochrome portraits are shown alongside blurry, silk-like running water, while images of the surrounding homes and landscapes ground the project in its geographical setting. “Everything I love about photography is reflected in this work,” Woudt reflects. “There is a combination of landscapes and stills and portraits, and I think that it’s complete. And it represents how I see photography now, and how I hope to bring it to the world.”