Bertien van Manen started out as a fashion photographer - and she still has an eye for detail and pattern - but inspired by Robert Frank's book The Americans (1958), she decided on a more documentary approach. For a time she photographed in black-and-white, but she changed her style radically in the early 1990s. From that point on, she travelled with great regularity through Eastern Europe and Asia. Her many travels and intensive contact with the people she met resulted in the book A Hundred Summers, a Hundred Winters in 1994. A logical follow-up was East Wind West Wind (2001), which was shot in China. In 2005 Van Manen published Give Me Your Image, comprised of photos of interiors in which the residents had placed a private photo of their own. Let's Sit Down Before We Go (2010) is her most recent photo book. The character of this book is less documentary than her earlier books and therefore allows more room for the viewers' imagination.
The work of Bertien van Manen was in numerous solo and group exhibitions including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Photographers Gallery (London) and Photo Museum Winterthur. Her work is included in major international collections such as Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris) and The Metropolitan Museum of Photographie (Tokyo). Bertien van Manen lives and works in Amsterdam.
Let's sit down before we go is a portrait of the placesvisited and the people she met, stayed with and became friends with during her travels across Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Siberia, Tatarstan and Uzbekistan. It seems little changed over the 20 years from when she started in 1991, and 2009, when the last photographs in the book were taken.