Jan Hoek – Artist Statement
“In essence my work is always based on an enormous fascination for people. The camera became a way for me to step into the homes of people that in normal life would never have me there. My quest for interesting models took me all over the world, from scary neighborhoods in Almere, to a facility for mentally disturbed people in Ghana. But the more pictures I took, the more I realized that each picture made me feel guilty afterwards. Often this resulted in the better the picture, the bigger the guilt.
At first, I thought that picturing people basically came down to watching closely and registration, that as a photographer you are an outsider. But I learned that taking a picture of someone is always some kind of small drama. I don’t mean drama in the way that it becomes a tearjerker, but the coming together of the photo being a mini-movie in itself. Photographer and model always start out with a shoot with totally different expectations. Pretty or ugly things can happen unanticipated, or beautiful pictures require nasty things, while a shoot can be lovely, but its result just terrible.
I believe that making pictures always asks for a certain level of ethics and that it is hardly possible to make pictures and, consciously or not, not to step over boundaries or things happening you never wished for. I have the feeling that this particular aspect of photographing is usually covered up, while I prefer to show it.
Regardless of the fact I often lie awake at night because of the things that happen between me and my models and that I feel utterly guilty a lot, I nonetheless think it’s important I make this kind of work. Because it’s about the boundaries in photography that I look for and question, but never try to cross. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it turns out funny and sometimes it doesn’t.
I think the paper Me & My Models should be there because, as far as I know, there are no photo books yet those pictures not just the end result.
I hope this book makes you aware of the small drama’s that can happen while picturing people so that after looking through this book and reading it, you ask yourself with every single photo what happened between a photographer and his model.”
Me & My Models is available now at Gallery Ron Mandos and online.