Crossing Europe
Project info

CROSSING EUROPE
As far as the eye can see

Living round the corner from Muntplein in Amsterdam meant I used to pass it several times a day. And it would often cheer me up just to see the life going on in those few square metres. I like watching crowds.I started studying people crossing at the intersection, observing their interactions and the way they moved. Initially I experienced them as acting in groups, organically, in orderly or in chaotic fashion. But within the dense movement one or more individuals would soon stand out from the crowd. Sometimes I would be reminded of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s work. In his series ‘Heads’ he captured city life, using an infrared-activated shutter linked to a strobe light. Camera and flash were hidden somewhere in public. There was no photographer: people triggered the shutter with their movements, unknowingly recording their actions. I was deeply impressed by the resulting images of such natural behaviour, such a natural state of mind; of people totally absorbed in their own world. During a stay in New York I was struck by the effect of sunlight reflecting off the plate glass buildings around me: people were illuminated from several angles and acquired multiple shadows. This produced an almost surrealistic atmosphere. Unfamiliar, otherworldly. In my work I wanted to put people in the spotlight, like actors on a stage. More than that, I wanted a spotlight to illuminate them. This light, coming from a different angle, would make them stand out; and emphasise the chance encounters that took place; single moments frozen in time. But it would be important not to interfere in people’s actions, to remain unnoticed as far as possible. The pictures I then took in Amsterdam expressed something I could recognise as a typical Amsterdam atmosphere: people showing an almost brash attitude, spontaneous and direct; sometimes ignoring the rules. It made me wonder if I could translate this experiment to to other cities. More in my book: