Annet Gelink Gallery is proud to announce Hidden in Another World, Bertien van Manen’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
The exhibition consists of a selection of photographs taken from Van Manen’s publication Vrouwen te gast (1979), representing women who had come to the Netherlands from the Mediterranean in the 1970s, either to reunite with their husbands, who were already working here, or to search for work themselves. As a photographer, Van Manen stays close to her subjects – she immerses herself in the places and cultures she photographs, learns the language, lives with the people whose lives she documents and establishes lasting relationships.
These women live their lives in between two worlds. They must sustain themselves amidst two cultures, with conflicting expectations from their husbands, families, culture of the homeland and that of the Netherlands. Homesickness has them clinging to the culture they know, yet the more they integrate, the more they can alienate from it. Their living and working environments are harsh – not seldomly they live with large families in a single-bedroom flat and are given only the least desirable jobs.
The titles of the works refer to the place and year of the picture, with the ”Dutchness” radiating from the image: meadows, terraced houses, dry cleaners full of Western clothes. The misplacedness and hard life shine through the photos: women sitting somewhat uncomfortably on a chair; women making their way through the Dutch weather, umbrella at hand; small and dilapidated houses with large families. On the clothesline, hardly any space for their large carpets.
Despite the harsh conditions Van Manen captured, the photographs do not merely offer a bleak view of these women’s lives. She photographed women partying in Schiedam, for instance, dancing with each other, smiling at the camera. As such, the works particularly portray the endless resilience of these women.
Having to flee from wars or other kinds of deadlock situations in the homeland is by no means limited to the seventies. Taking in the images of these women, one often cannot help but draw parallels with today’s events. Yet in her close contact with these women, Van Manen manages to tell a story that reaches beyond their concrete history, touching on universal themes of displacement and feeling at home, alienation and isolation, feminism and, ultimately, love.
Recent exhibitions were held at Schunck, Heerlen (2023), FOMU, Antwerp (2022), a major retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2020), as well as exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum Tokyo, Japan, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2017), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, US (2016), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2013), FOAM, Amsterdam (2012), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2012) and De Hallen, Haarlem (2006) and MoMA, New York (2005). Her work is included in the collections of Nederlands Fotomuseum, Fotomuseum Antwerp, Schunck Heerlen, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MoMA, New York, Maison Européenne de la Photographie Paris, Fotomuseum Wintherthur, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.
Image: Bertien van Manen, Almelo, 1978