ANDREAS J. HIRSCH
Curator at KUNST HAUS WIEN, writer and photographer, Austria
We see photographs almost devoid of people, only in two occasions there seem to be people visible in reflections. Some photographs show life animals, others artificial ones. Most of the nature visible is artificial as well, as in a zoo or in a museum. One photograph indicates a circus or similar form of entertainment. Only one photograph contains text, the line “HERE IS ALWAYS THERE”, and it show a structure which seems to be part of a railway station. Again no people to be seen. – And Noortje insited that her photographs were actually about people.
In fact, people are responsible for almost everything that can be seen on those photographs. It is a man-made world that Noortje is showing us. We may suspect that it is owed to the patience of the photographer that there are (almost) no people visible, but also a different scenario could have taken place: That the pictures show a world without people, a recurring theme in an apocalyptic sub-genre of science-fiction literature. It was a genre which was especially famous when the knowledge about the global destruction potential of nuclear warfare hit the public mind in the 1950ies and 1960ies. The space suit in image 4 seems to support this version, while the animals strangely do not disturb it. Animals have also returned to Chernobyl, which is still toxic land.
The horse is also the only living being in the series that comes real close to the camera, almost getting in touch with it. – I notice that when looking at the photographs so far, I am never referring to the photographer, which I would usually be inclined to do. Maybe the feeling of abandonment is so strong that we feel alone in and with the scenes and that the photography seems anonymous. Which, I would be inclined to say, is a compliment to the photographer.
The prevailing feeling of abandonment in a double sense in those photographs and the dream-like, failing efforts of orienting ourselves – all this perfectly relates to the partially intuited and imagined ancestor. It is an interesting way to go that also seems to be consistent with Noortje’s other photographic work. The missing link of fact and fiction, of knowledge and imagination, of text and photographs has been found.