The TODAY show, one of the most-watched programs on American television, featured my photographs and aerial drone video of of the Notre-Dame cathedral of Paris in a segment broadcast on Jan. 18, 2022. Correspondent Keir Simmons briefly interviewed me in Paris about using my 19th-century camera to photograph the cathedral. The show was timed with the publication of National Georgraphic… read more.
National Geographic Magazine has published my images of the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame cathedral of Paris as a cover story with 36-pages in the February, 2022 issue. Complimenting the magazine are a custom-built immersive webpage featuring my exclusive drone videography and a podcast in NatGeo’s Overheard series. The feature article was written by National Geographic’s Environmental Editor, Robert… read more.
Sonia Devilliers of France Inter radio interviewed co-directors Mathilde Damoisel and myself about our new documentary, Far West, The Hidden History. The 20-minute interview in french was broadcast on her morning show, l’Instant M, and it can also be listened to as a podcast. Viewers in France can see the full documentary on France 5 website until 10 March, 2022.… read more.
(scroll below for the English version)
un film documentaire de Mathilde Damoisel et Tomas van Houtryve
AVANT-PREMIERE MERCREDI 24 NOVEMBRE A 20h00
Grand Action Cinema
5 rue des Écoles
La projection sera suivie d’un échange avec les réalisateurs
RESERVATION INDISPENSABLE à : firstname.lastname@example.org
**COMPLET – PLUS DE RESERVATIONS DISPONIBLES**
Résumé : Un photographe confronte l’amnésie collective de l’Amérique, et dévoile le passé oblitéré du Far West. À l’heure où un mur s’élève pour isoler les États-Unis du Mexique, il retrace une autre frontière – celle d’avant 1848 et l’annexion de ces territoires mexicains qu’étaient le Texas, la Californie, le Nouveau-Mexique… Il y rencontre et photographie des hommes et des femmes dont les familles ont toujours vécu là, bien avant l’annexion américaine. Indiens, noirs, hispaniques, métisses : ils n’ont jamais traversé de frontière, mais, comme ils disent, « la frontière les a traversés » et les a rendus à jamais étrangers. Leur histoire a été effacée, leurs mémoires ont été réprimées, mais leur existence défie les mythes fondateurs de l’Amérique, et tous les replis identitaires.
Diffusion dimanche 9 janv. à 22h50 sur France 5 télévision.
D’après le livre Lines and Lineage.
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Join co-directors Tomas van Houtryve and Mathilde Damoisel
for the avant-premiere screening of the documentary film
On Wednesday, November 24 at 8:00pm at
Grand Action Cinema
5 rue des Écoles
The screening will be followed by a conversation with the filmmakers.
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED : email@example.com
**RESERVATIONS CLOSED – ALL SEATS FULL**
Photographer Tomas van Houtryve confronts America’s collective amnesia and reveals the hidden legacy of the Far West. At a time when the US has reinforced a wall that isolates it from Latin America, the photographer retraces another border, the one that existed before 1848, when the US military invaded and occupied the northern Mexican territories that are known today as the states of Texas, California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. He meets and photographs the descendants of families that have lived in these lands since long before the American conquest: indigenous, black and mestizo families that never crossed the border – the border crossed them. Rendered strangers in their own land, they push back on the founding myths of the American Frontier and contribute their own overlooked stories to our common history.
Broadcast January 9, 2022 at 10:50pm CET on France 5 television.
Based on the book Lines and Lineage.
Blue Sky Days gallery exhibition from 10 September to 24 October 2021.
A large selection of 150 x 100 cm gelatin silver prints from the Blue Sky Days series will be exhibited in a duo show with Margaret Lansink in Ostend. The exhibition is curated by John Devos. Opening reception at 7:00pm on 10 September 2021.
Marie-Joséplein/ Madridstraat 2
About Blue Sky Days
Starting in 2013, I traveled across America to aerially photograph the kind of gatherings that have become habitual targets for drone strikes abroad — including weddings, funerals, and groups of people praying or exercising. I also flew my camera over settings where government surveillance drones have been used domestically.
In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her home. At a U.S. Congressional hearing held in Washington in October 2013, the woman’s 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.”
The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy, and war.
The production of Blue Sky Days was supported with grants from the Pulitzer Center, and was first published by Harper’s magazine as a 16-page spread, the largest photo essay in the magazine’s 166-year history.
About the duo exhibition Over Leven (Survival)
During the International Photo Biennial Ostend, Gallery Papillon in Ostend opens its doors to two top photographers with at first sight very diverse work: one brings conceptual photography, the other stands for a more documentary approach; one talks about the fragility of human relations, the other argues about the new warfare. And then, upon closer inspection, there are a lot of similarities: both approach their chosen theme in a unique and inspiring way, both encourage a critical attitude, both opt for a more symbolic approach. And in the latter they fit in with two of Ostend’s most renown painters Ensor & Spilliaert. But they also harmonize perfectly with the festival’s general theme of (Un)Rest – the restlessness we sometimes feel about relationships in motion, the restlessness about latent insecurity, the restlessness generated by a latent threat – in other words, the restlessness about human existence.
The Photaumnales festival is exhibiting my Lines and Lineage prints
Lines and Lineage solo exhibition
5 Nov. 2021 — 17 Dec. 2021
101/119 rue JB Carpeaux
tel. +33 (0)3 44 24 09 19
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.
Lectures and readings with Tomas Van Houtryve, Sylvain Tesson, Elisabeth Barillé, Bernard Hermann, Sylvia Whitman and Sara Yalda around the theme of “Kilometer Zero.” Hosted by the Rosy Lamb exhibition. Musical guest Lou Rotzinger.
22 June, 2021 at 6:00pm. Reservations required.
Pavillon Rive Gauche
6 rue Frédéric Sauton
My Traces of Exile video installation is 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.
Open from 29 May to 2 September, 2021
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.
About SEND ME AN IMAGE – From Postcards to Social Media:
Photography has always been a social medium that has been shared with others. But why do people communicate with each other using images? And how do the “virtual distillates” of photographs change society? The thematic exhibition Send me an Image, From Postcards to Social Media outlines the development of photography from a means of communication in the nineteenth century to its current digital representation online. The focus is on the dialogue between historical forms of traveling images from photography over the past 150 years and contemporary artists from the 1970s onwards who work with both traditional and modern photographic techniques, uses, and means of communication.
The exhibition considers the transformation of photography from an illustrative medium to one of society’s most significant means of communicating today. At the same time, the works shown illuminate phenomena such as censorship, surveillance, and the algorithmic regulation that affect many activities in a data-driven era. Today, images shared via social media not only spread rapidly but can also take on an independent newsworthiness and as “pure” messages can even spark different kinds of protests. The social dimensions of image communication is a second area of focus in Send me an Image – From Postcards to Social Media at C/O Berlin, curated by Felix Hoffmann and Dr. Kathrin Schönegg.
ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin with Der Greif, David Campany & Anastasia Samoylova, Fredi Casco, Moyra Davey, Themistokles von Eckenbrecher, Martin Fengel & Jörg Koopmann, Stuart Franklin, Gilbert & George, Dieter Hacker, Tomas van Houtryve, Philippe Kahn, On Kawara, Erik Kessels, Marc Lee, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Mike Mandel, Theresa Martinat, Eva & Franco Mattes, Jonas Meyer & Christin Müller, Peter Miller, Romain Roucoules, Thomas Ruff, Taryn Simon & Aaron Swartz, Andreas Slominski, Clare Strand, Corinne Vionnet.
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. *Update Jan. 18, 2022: National Geographic Magazine has published a cover story on Notre-Dame. You can also follow my work in progress and behind the… read more.