Last weekend I participated in the local art route. During an art route, all participating artists in a town keep open house. This involves that everyone interested in art can visit the studios or workshops of the participating artists, like painters, sculptors, etchers, jewellery makers, or what else there are, such as photographers as well. Meet the artist at home and see how she or he works is the idea behind such a weekend. I, as a photographer, participate already many years in the art route in my town, and I love it, for it’s always a pleasure to talk with other people about my work and to explain them the magic of photography. But alas, I don’t have a photo studio. I have only my cameras and my computer with Photoshop, and maybe the computer is even more important than the cameras are, for today there is no photo without a computer. Moreover, I don’t have the space to receive many people at home and to show them my work place (so my computer plus chair) on the first floor of my house. But there has always been a solution to this problem, and this year I was the guest of the local painters’ club, which gathers in the community centre in my town.
But what to present during an art route, when you don’t have a studio where you can show and explain the essentials of your way of working? I can take my laptop with me and tell the visitors how Photoshop works, for today a computer with Photoshop – or another photo editing program – is what the photographer’s darkroom was in the past. The darkroom or, today, the editing program is the place where the photographic idea becomes a real image. But are visitors of the art route really interested in it? I think they are not. So instead I always make a kind of mini-exhibition that presents a kind of overview of my work. I show the best of what I have made since the last art route and I show also some older work, for after a year, art hasn’t become obsolete (most of the time) and there are always people who haven’t seen it yet or don’t remember that they have seen it or who like to see it again. And so I exhibited in my space in the local community centre my “Herd of Elephants” (https://henkbijdeweg.nl/foto/262888529_Olifantenkudde.html#.XZtzrPkaQkI) and my landscape pictures, taken with a pinhole camera or a normal camera. I presented there my Mondrian-like picture of the inner court of a hotel (https://henkbijdeweg.nl/foto/305631891_Galerij.html#.XZt0c_kaQkI). I presented there also my by Rembrandt inspired self-portrait (not on the Internet), and my expression of “Homesickness” (https://henkbijdeweg.nl/foto/224795761_Heimwee.html#.XZt7g_kaQkI), inspired by Magritte. I presented also other art photos inspired by myself. In addition, I did something else. I made a photo series of what some people would rather consider as documentary photography or otherwise as something that is not “real” art. For the occasion of this art weekend I made a series of photos with bikes. Yes, simply bikes. Single bikes as you find them here everywhere apparently lost along the roads. Parked bikes; damaged bikes left behind by the owners; old bikes now used as flower boxes. It was a mini-series of ten photos. Moreover, I added a mini-series of six pictures of refuse. Yes, refuse, as you see it everywhere in the street.
When the art route began, people gradually dropped in. They watched with interest the work of the painters and they talked with them. And they watched my photos in my space in the community centre. Some talked with me and gave their comments. I was a bit nervous, of course, what they would say. I always try not to provoke comments, for people must say spontaneously what they think. Only then they’ll say the truth and say something more than “I like it”.From other occasions I had expected that the visitors would praise my “Elephants” or my “Double landscape” (https://henkbijdeweg.nl/foto/136983510_Dubbel+landschap.html#.XZt42fkaQkI); or my Rembrandt, my Magritte or my Mondrian. And indeed, these photos belonged to the best of my work, judging by their remarks. Nonetheless, these photos were not what the visitors liked most. What they liked most were the bikes and the refuse. For bikes and refuse is what everybody sees but nobody watches. And that’s what I as a photographer had done: Watch and photograph what everybody sees but doesn’t take notice of. Just this made these bike and refuse pictures striking and made that they drew the attention of the visitors. Art is not only in beauty, but it can also put forward what everybody ignores. That’s where the art comes in.