My Traces of Exile video installation will be on exhibition at the C/O Berlin Foundation in Germany as part of the group exhibition SEND ME AN IMAGE – From Postcards to Social Media.
The show is scheduled for 27 March to 2 September, 2021, but it could be modified depending on restrictions surrounding the pandemic.
C/O Berlin Foundation
Tel. +49 30 2844416 62
About Traces of Exile:
For the first time in its history, Europe experienced a refugee crisis where most of the individuals involved were connected to the internet. In 2015, over 1.3 million people fled to Europe from crises in the Middle East and North Africa. They carried smartphones to help them navigate through unknown territory and to communicate with loved ones left behind.
Some of them chose to document moments of their lives in exile and to publicly post their images on social media. Often, they geo-tagged their posts to the specific locations where they passed, leaving behind a digital trail of memories.
When I first viewed these posts, I immediately noticed a gap between how migrants portray themselves and how they are portrayed in the media. Western narratives about the newcomers is fraught with politics, and news organisations tend to visually categorise migrants either as victims or threats. In contrast, the images the exiles post of themselves tend to be intimate, playful, and occasionally even flirtatious. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of those who arrived in Europe in 2015 are men between the ages of 18 and 34. They express themselves with the same visual codes as other millennials. Though divided by borders and conflict, they are united with their generation across the globe by the unique photographic aesthetic of this historical moment.
In 2016, inspired by an Augmented Reality app that can see Instagram posts linked to a specific place, I followed this trail of digital traces through Europe, capturing landscapes of exile overlaid with the Instagram photos the refugees posted in the same place. The result is a series of snapshots of the refugee crisis in Europe, capturing the intersections of reality and online identities.
I’m currently on assignment for National Geographic photographing the rebuilding of the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris. In addition to still photography, I’ve been operating my drone inside and outside the cathedral and recording video. You can also follow my work in progress and behind the scenes access on my @TomasVH Instagram account and the @NatGeointheField Instagram account: … read more.
A live television interview about my Lines and Lineage exhibition and Divided video installation was broadcast on France 24 on 27 October 2020. The interview was conducted by Haxie Meyers-Belkin. The works are being currently shown at the Photaumnales festival in France: Lines and Lineage solo exhibition 5 Nov. 2020 — 17 Dec. 2020* Espace Matisse 101/119 rue JB Carpeaux 60100 Creil… read more.
Divided video installation
Exhibition: FLUX, le discret et le continu
19 Sept. 2020 — 3 Jan. 2021
22 rue Saint-Pierre
+33 (0)3 44 15 67 00
Lines and Lineage solo exhibition
5 Nov. 2020 — 17 Dec. 2020*
101/119 rue JB Carpeaux
tel. +33 (0)3 44 24 09 19
*Postponed until further notice due to the COVID lockdown
À propos de Lines and Lineage (English version below)
Lines and Lineage (« Lignes et lignées ») confronte l’amnésie collective américaine au sujet du passé mexicain du Far West. À quoi ressemblait le Far West avant sa conquête par les États-Unis en 1848 ? La frontière mexicaine se situait alors 1100 km plus au Nord. Elle suivait l’actuelle frontière entre la Californie et l’Oregon, courrait à l’Est du Wyoming avant de bifurquer vers la Louisiane. Le Mexique a régné sur ce vaste territoire durant la première moitié du 19ème siècle.
L’invasion américaine s’est produite juste avant que le procédé photographique, dévoilé à Paris en 1839, ne parvienne dans la région. Les représentations visuelles que nous connaissons si bien de l’Ouest américain ont été créées après 1848 : ce sont les photographies célèbres des cow-boys et des pionniers blancs, de la Ruée vers l’Or et de l’arrivée du chemin de fer. En revanche, les images de l’ère mexicaine de l’Ouest n’ont jamais été fixées dans nos mémoires.
C’est donc pour rendre visible cette ère mexicaine remarquable et invisible que Tomas van Houtryve a choisi de photographier le Far West à l’aide d’une chambre photographique à plaques de verre du 19ème siècle. Ses portraits des descendants directs d’habitants d’alors accompagnent, sous forme de diptyques, des prises de vue des paysages de l’ancienne frontière et des ruines de la période mexicaine.
About the Lines and Lineage
Lines and Lineage takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, I chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. Portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired with photographs of landscapes inside the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.
À propos de Divided (English version below)
Bien que les frontières puissent jouer un rôle important dans nos vies et avec notre sens de l’identité, ces frontières entre les pays sont impermanentes, artificielles et souvent absurdes. À travers le prisme de la politique contemporaine, les frontières nationales peuvent prendre des significations dramatiques et déformées.
Divided, 2018, est une installation vidéo qui se concentre sur la répétition intemporelle des lignes de vagues de l’océan Pacifique. La frontière entre la Basse-Californie et la Haute-Californie remonte à 1848, lorsque l’armée américaine a saisi la moitié nord du Mexique. Au fil des ans, la frontière a été renforcée d’une ligne imaginaire à une clôture en une barrière en acier qui s’avance dans l’eau.
Des lignes de vagues ont traversé l’océan Pacifique depuis des temps immémoriaux. Maintenant, cette barrière les sépare juste avant d’atteindre le rivage.
Since Baja and Alta California were divided by the seizure of Mexican land by the United States military in 1848, a political boundary has jutted into the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, the border has been reinforced from a simple line to a fence to steel barrier. This single-channel video installation focuses on the timeless repetition of lines of waves as they crash perpendicular into the barrier. The collision of waves is mesmerizing, and we notice unified lines of waves that are divided in two.
Preview video of Divided
Collector Daily wrote a very in-depth review of the Lines and Lineage monograph. The article was written by Sabrina Mandanici and is copied below: Tomas van Houtryve: Lines and Lineage By Sabrina Mandanici / In Photobooks / June 1, 2020 JTF (just the facts): Published in 2019 by Radius Books (here). Clothbound hardcover with four different cover images… read more.
I was invited by the VII Interactive Book Club to discuss my Lines and Lineage book with Sally Martin Katz of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The conversation was originally streamed live online on 3 May 2020. We discussed the inspiration and key message of the book, the 19th-century process employed, and the place of the work… read more.
I’ll be speaking about my latest book, Lines and Lineage, as part of the weekly VII Interactive Book Club. To access this free live event, you can visit the VII Facebook video stream page on May 3rd, 2020 at 18:00 CET / 12:00noon EDT or you can subscribe to the VII mailing list to receive an invitation to the Zoom call.
The book takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, I chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. Portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired in diptychs with photographs of landscapes along the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage also includes historic maps and essays.
This book lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West. Lines and Lineage was awarded France’s prestigious Roger Pic Prize and was selected as a finalist for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. The work was profiled by The New York Times, in Photograph Magazine, and in HyperAllergic. It was published as a monograph by Radius Books in autumn 2019.
Leica Akademie France is hosting online conferences with photographers during the “stay at home” period of the coronavirus outbreak. I was invited to participate on 23 April 2020. In this recording of the French language video-conference, I share my early career path and my methodology for approaching photography projects. You can see more online conferences hosted by Leica France… read more.
Leica France has invited me to give an online Artist Talk on Thursday, 23 April at 18:00 (6:00pm CET). The video-conference presentation and Q&A session will be in French. Sign up details below (en français). En cette période difficile, pendant laquelle le seul moyen de moyen de communication et d’échange n’est que “virtuel”, Leica Camera France vous propose des rendez-vous… read more.