'Typical Dutch' / 'Typical German'
Within the context of the Meet the Germans website project, the Goethe-Institut in Rotterdam commissioned the German photographer Antje Peters to use her photography to demonstrate what ‘typical Dutch’ means to her. Conversely the Dutch photographer Annegien van Doorn presents her concept of ‘typical German’.
'Typical Dutch', Antje Peters
In the still life above you see an opulently laid table on which the objects and products flow into each other. Peters’ inspiration for these images was the word 'gezellig' ('cozy' or 'intimate' in English) which, unlike the German equivalent 'gesellig', is a term often used by Dutch-speakers and for Peters expresses the sociability of the Dutch people. Tulips, edam cheese and clogs are souvenirs for tourists as far as Peters is concerned. She saw 'typical Dutch' rather as being the mixture of diverse peoples, cultures and religions within a small area. The country is small, and space is limited. People have to get on with each other and manage to do so. Peters uses the images of food and other objects on the table to represent the interconnectedness of the different cultures: mayonnaise flows over tomatoes; Van Gogh’s sunflower petals and tulip bulbs mix together with 'Hagelslag' (chocolate sprinkles) and 'Dubbel-Vla' (chocolate and vanilla pudding packaged in a carton of course); round melba toast and 'Muisjes' (small aniseed balls coloured white, pink or light blue) represent the birth of a child; fruit from the former Dutch colony Sruinam harmonises with ancient Dutch potatoes; bicycle lights shine brightly next to a 'Kaasschaaf' - a typical Dutch cheese knife.
'Typical German', Annegien van Doorn
Van Doorn’s photo series deals with objects and food which to her are representative of 'typical German'. Sometimes she herself is part of her presentation. This takes place in a bizarre and humorous way: the observer sees lines of beer glasses - some full, some empty - which are reminiscent of a display of golden trophies. The glasses stand next to each other proudly, like a victorious sports team. Another picture is of a woman with a holepunch stuck in her wide open mouth. This holepunch symbolises the German love of order which simultaneously causes someone to be lost for words. A 'Mettigel' (a hedgehog made out of minced meat), which beomes a tame household pet perched on her shoulder, represents an enduring memory of holidays in Germany during her childhood. Hazelnut wafers are piled up on one another, reminding us of an old socialist style housing complex – a reference to the photography of Andreas Gursky, one of the most important photographers in the world. In short, Van Doorn tries to provide the objects with a new meaning and at the same time she encourages the observer to interpret the world in a new way.
Antje Peters has lived in the Netherlands for over 10 years. Since studying photography at the art academy in Utrecht she has worked as a freelance photographer and artist. In addition to the publication of her work in various books (The Book of Paper, Post Editions) and magazines (BLEND Magazine, FW Magazine), her work has also been exhibited at the Mkgalerie (Berlin), TENT (Rotterdam), SecondROOM (Brüssel) and Amsterdam's Centrum für Fotografie.
Annegien Van Doorn studied photography at the St. Joost Akademie in Breda and graduated with a Masters’ degree from the Arte y Contextos Intermedia in Barcelona. In 2009 she took part in an artist-in-residence programme, together with the artist Luyo Torres, at the Youkobo Art Space (Tokyo). Van Doorn’s works were exhibited at various individual and group exhibitions at Espacio Menosuno (Madrid), Ca L’Arenas Centre d’Art (Mataró), DeFKa (Assen), Sala d’Arte Jove (Barcelona), Duende (Rotterdam) and Breda Fotofestival (Breda).