Frieke Janssens celebrates 20 years of photography
The Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens (b. 1980) celebrates her twentieth anniversary as a photographer with an exhibition at Ingrid Deuss gallery in Antwerp. The exhibition brings together a unique mix of commissioned work and personal work, spanning the entire career of Janssens. More than 200 photos will be on display. The works are deliberately mixed, so that photos of 20 years ago are presented next to more recent work, and commissioned work next to free work. In doing so, the exhibition takes the pictures out of their context and invites people to look at them open-minded, unprejudiced and with an open view. What are the similarities, what are the differences?
Iconic images from well-known series such as Smoking Kids (2011) (in which young kids are “smoking” while posing before the camera), Your Last Shot (2012) (in which people are photographed just as they want to be remembered) and Dianas (2015) (presenting single women as “predators” in their “hunt” for men) are alternated with her work for a large range of clients in both the commercial and the cultural sector, such as Duval Guillaume, Canvas, Klara, De Standaard Magazine, Weekend Knack, Toneelhuis, BMW, M Museum, Channel 4, Stromae, and Theater aan zee. Her latest series animalcoholics will also be on display in the exhibition. In this series, she reflects on alcohol as a socially accepted drug and its position in modern society, creating a large, surrealist panorama.
20 years of photography is above all a celebration of Janssens' love for photography. The exhibition offers a unique look into the world of Frieke Janssens and her way of working. It breaks the parochialism between commissioned work and free work. Janssens style is undeniably recognizable in the pictures, but there is also an evolution in her work. In the past two decades, Frieke Janssens has built a solid reputation in staged photography. Her work is characterized by a precise staging, along with an impeccable command of the technique and a perfect finish. Janssens’ visual language is both surprising and playful and reveals a great sense of humor. Above all, her work often evinces a tension and an unspoken tragic undercurrent.
The exhibition also tries to portray how a professional photographer can make a difference in a world dominated by images. Today, we take photos of almost anything: our lunch, our new shoes, our children. We all present it with accurately framing and the appropriate filters. How can you still make your mark? By making very thoughtful images. Something despicable or a taboo will be presented attractively by Frieke Janssens. Thus, you get an uncomfortable feeling looking at the pictures, like you almost feel guilty to be attracted by the imaging. It is in this way Janssens manages to grab the spotlight. She creates images that you do not forget. She 'abuses' beauty to confuse the viewer.