Shooting in an unremarkable resort on the Belgian coast, the young Dutch photographer found the extraordinary in everyday scenes
Eva Roefs has an affinity for capturing bizarre moments in exceptionally mundane situations. The young Amsterdam-based photographer grew up in south Holland in a small town called Loosbroek, and says the monotonous surroundings spurred her search for the absurd as soon as she started photographing at age 13. A decade on, Roefs’ latest series West Flemish Coast applies her signature ethereal stylings to documentary subject matter.
“I started thinking, ‘Why go to Australia, Canada or South America when beauty can also be found at my neighbour’s house?’” says Roefs. “So I decided to go to Belgium, where people have smaller holidays that aren’t particularly fancy. It’s just family, the sea, food – not very good food – and animals, all together. It’s not at all like going to surf in Australia or going to Dubai to see big buildings. It really is the root of holidays and how they began.”
Since Roefs began taking photographs, her visuals have shifted from dramatic colour contrasts to lighter, washed-out hues – a progression she attributes to being more in touch with her themes and subject matter. “There needs to be a bit of silence in my photography because the situations are unexpected and quite absurd. So when the contrast and lighting is intense, it’s too much,” she says.
In West Flemish Coast, this strategy pervades. Pale, candid portraits are paired with images of muted-toned buildings, sandy beaches and stucco siding, playing on the artist’s rejection of saturation while simultaneously reflecting her pursuit of the ordinary. A defining factor of Roefs’ process is her persistent focus and patience – for a number of images in the series, this meant waiting on the street for an hour or so before someone or something finally cruised past. The resulting photographs are organised into diptychs.
Most of the artist’s past work was created in studio settings, but her experience of moving from photographing indoors to outdoors has sparked a desire to pursue documentary work further. “It doesn’t matter where you are going; you can always find beautiful scenes, beautiful people and beautiful moments,” says Roefs, who’s also a picture editor on Volkskrant Magazine. “That’s the feeling that I get with the west Flemish coast. It’s not a very remarkable place but it is super interesting when you make it beautiful through your own vision.”
http://cargocollective.com/evaroefs Eva Roefs is taking over BJP’s Instagram feed from 23 October – check it out at bjp1854 This article was first published in the November issue of BJP, available via www.thebjpshop.com