Emmy's World is the result of an unusual, long-term project: starting in 2009, the Dutch photographer, Hanne van der Woude took part in the lives of the aging artist couple Emmy Eerdmans and Ben Joosten. The young photographer spent an intensive time with both of the creative free spirits that have been married for over 50 years, in their home, a former school in the Dutch region of Betuwe, in the province of Gelderland. She participated in their daily lives and accompanied them with her camera. She photographed Emmy with her favourite guinea hen, Klara, while she was drawing or gathering branches in an enchanted-like garden. She portrayed Ben with his brothers as they posed boisterous and bare-chested in an old washtub. She went with the older couple on a road trip to the south of France, where Ben’s older brother Egbert had lived for a long time. She also captured very intimate moments, such as Emmy lovingly taking care of Ben during the last days of his life.
EMMY’S WORLD shows images of people that despite their age have never lost their love of life and freedom.
The focus is on the now 85 year old Emmy Eerdmans. In 2009, Hanne van der Woude met the graphic artist Ben Joosten by chance and spontaneously asked him if she could make a portrait of him. After he agreed and she went to his house, she met Emmy and was fascinated with this unconventional, self-contained, strong yet strangely enraptured woman. “I decided to decipher Emmy”, remembers van der Woude today.
The photographer approached the painter and her decelerated world with the tranquillity of an analogue camera. With insightful images, van der Woude shows a woman who lives her own life without caring what others think of it.
EMMY’S WORLD is not a photo reportage, but the result of an unusual collaboration between artists: the photographer Hanne, the painter Emmy and the graphic artist Ben. A deep bond was created between the three of them that went far beyond the project. So that it was just natural that Hanne accompanied them to the south of France and documented the rural life of Ben’s brother Egbert. “They were like a family for me and I often visited them without my camera and just spent valuable time with them”, states van der Woude.
“EMMY’S WORLD addresses a number of current social themes”, says Celina Lunsford, artistic director of the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt.
“These include growing older, maintaining the zest for life and creativity in old age, independence, caring, intimate relationships and also this friendship between generations.”
“EMMY’S WORLD is unique, but also very familiar. The photographs and films show a woman living her own
life, little occupied with what others might think of it,
as documented by the empathic eyes of a photographer who became part of that life. Emmy occupies a position in society that is by no means selfevident.”
Nanda VAN DEN BERG – Artistic Director Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography
Brothers Ben, Egbert and Herman, Mas Mallakof
Ben in a snackbar, A31
Emmy in a snackbar, A31
Egbert and his underpants, Mas Malakoff
Ben at the seaside, Coillure
Étang de La Capelle, France _ Swimming in lake _ Holiday day 9
Film from video installation Emmy's World
Emmy and Ben, Arles-sur-tech
Egbert in a hat, Mas Malakoff
Corbère, France _ Ben en Emmy _ Swimming in brook II _ Holiday day 7
Film from video installation Emmy's World
Klara, the guinea hen
Ben and Egbert in a hospital
Egbert's last bath
Emmy in a beanie
Emmy and Ben in bed
Ben's last night
Emmy among the berries
Exhibition view - Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography
The exhibition Emmy’s World premiered in 2015 in Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography. Since then the exhibition has travelled from Frankfurt to Japan. All photographs of the exhibition, 41 in total, have been produced to museum standards, as colour c-prints from analogue slides and digital footage (including two light boxes).
Click here to see more exhibition shots.
Together with the opening of exhibition in Huis Marseille the book Vivace was launched. The book was sold out within a month. In 2016 the book was reprinted. Unfortunately the second print is about to be sold out as well.
Vivace: 17 x 24cm; 160 pages; colour; ISBN 978-94-90119-39-3 Design: Hans Gremmen / Publisher: FW:Books
Emmy's World in VPRO, Fotostudio de Jong