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Claire Felicie Amsterdam, Netherlands

iPhone portraits of Xukuru indigenous people in Pernambuco, Brazil. When ancient cultures continue, but also embrace the new, does that make them less "authentic"?

How do the faces of soldiers change — before, during, and then after, war? Claire Felicie created enigmatic triptych portraits of Dutch marines before, during and after they were deployed to Uruzgan, Afghanistan in 2009-2010.
About Claire Felicie

I was born in the south of the Netherlands, in the city of Breda, in 1966, and am currently based in Amsterdam. At the age of four I was confronted with my mother’s death. The sudden loss of a beloved family member affected me deeply even at such a young age. Ever since I have been fascinated with how we cope when we lose those close to us. What happens when our dreams or fantasies are destroyed, what makes life bearable after those tragic moments and do we find reconciliation in the end?

The first pictures I took was at age 18 with my brother’s camera, the second I saw them after getting them developed I was hooked. I had to get my own camera and pursue my new passion. Maybe childhood memories played an important role in this. My father was a passionate (although amateur) photographer himself and made 24 home made photo books, full of black and white pictures, covering eight years of daily family life with my mother in the leading role. It was only by looking through these albums that I got an idea of how my mother was like. It was as if jumping back in time and witness her life through these photographs. My father stopped with making these albums after her death. So, photography for me is so much more than ‘just pictures’. Without photography I wouldn’t have ‘known’ my mother. Through these experiences from my early childhood, photography has a certain ‘mystic’ and ‘magic’ for me, which I hope to attain in my own work as well.

In 1988 I moved to Amsterdam with my husband. We are a couple since puberty, and we were married in our early twenties. In Amsterdam, I gave birth to my eldest son, who is now a marine in the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, and took up a study History at the University of Amsterdam . At that time it didn’t occur to me that I could become a professional photographer, and I chose a study that I’m still very much interested in, and take my advantage of.
Because my husband and I wanted a big family, we got four more children in the next coming years. It was a busy time with five little children, but it was a happy time and I never quit my photography. With all the children in bed, I went to my dark room (which was only a darkened kitchen or bathroom) to print my photographs.

In 2002, I met an important figure in the photography scene at that time, Herman Hoeneveld, now sadly departed. He was very enthusiastic about my pictures of my own children (the series ‘In the forecourt’) and he immediately arranged a portfolio in an important photo magazine and a meeting with the excellent Suzanne Dechert, director of the Melkweg photo gallery in Amsterdam. She was very touched by my work and arranged a solo exhibition in her gallery. It was through these events, that I decided to start my own business in photography.

Since then I’ve had a lot of exhibitions and publications with my four so far photoseries:
- In the forecourt, 2001-2004,
- Moonstruck/How to disappear completely, 2005
- Here are the young men, 2009-2010.
- Salaam Afghanistan, 2012

In 2007 I co-created the children’s book ‘Girl of the Nightwatch’ with the famous Dutch artist Jan Wolkers. This book is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and sold out.

In 2013 I self-published a photo book with my marines' portraits: 'Here are the young men' with acclaimed Dutch designer Sybren Kuiper.

Read more
Claire Felicie's Projects on LensCulture
Claire Felicie's Books