Refuge, Princen’s most recent project, could be described as a photographic fiction of sorts. Although it is the result of extensive travels and research in five cities of the Middle East and Turkey – Istanbul, Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Dubai – it could just as easily pass as the pictorial record of a drive through a single, imaginary city: a city without a center, populated by extraordinary and at times implausible architectural artifacts; an urban laboratory whose physical traits are defined by migratory flows, spatial transformation and geopolitical flux on a continental scale.
An architect by training, Princen has for many years used photography as a tool to observe, record and interpret the contemporary landscape. His photographs – themselves unmanipulated representations of reality – invite the viewer to construct an imaginary landscape that lies beyond the frame, outside the limits of the viewfinder.
Refuge is not, however, an exercise in abstraction. It is a documentation of the spatial products of refuge, ranging from migrant worker camps to gated satellite cities in the desert or the frequent proximity between abject poverty and extreme wealth, that at the same time sidesteps the cliches and the iconic emblems of segregation and seclusion. Starting from its peripheries, Princen’s photographs conduct the viewer through a cityscape that is both familiar and remote, ominous and beautiful.
Biography: Bas Princen (Zeeland, Netherlands 1975) is an artist and photographer living and working in Rotterdam. His work focuses on the transformations of the urban landscape researching the possible future scenarios and outcomes by the use of photography.
Recent exhitbions include: Five Cities, Depo, Instanbul 2010; Invisible frontier, AUT, Insbruck 2008; Nature as Artifice, Kroller Muller Museum, Otterloo and Aperture Foundation, New York 2009; Spectacular City, Nai, Rotterdam, 2006; Talking Cities, Essen 2006; The Venice Bienale of Architecture 2004 and 2006; and Shrinking Cities, Archilab, Orleans 2004 and Berlin 2005.
In May 2004 He published a book about his work “Arfificial Arcadia” with 010 Publishers (Contriburors: Bart Lootsma, Wim Cuyvers, Lars Lerup, Dirk Symons, Jeff Dersen); in 2007 “Rotterdam” with Witte de With Publishers; in 2008 “Galleria Naturale” for Linea di Confine, Rubierra; and in 2009 “Five Cities Portfolio” with SUN Publishers.
In 2005 he was awarded a residency in Los Angeles with the Mak Schindler stipendium and in April 2004 he won the Charlotte Kohler Prize for promising young artists and architects in the Netherlands.
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of: The Mondriaan Foundation, IABR 2009 (International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam) and the Netherlands Cultural Services (New York).
The project this exhibition is part of is coordinated by DEPO Istanbul and commissioned and produced as part of the collaborative research platform “diwan”, initiated and curated by Philipp Misselwitz and Can Altay.
Special thanks to: Jennifer Sigler, George Brugmans, Tim Rieniets, Dina Shehayeb, Mona Fawaz, Rami Daher, Yasser Elsheshtawy, Robert Kloos, Milica Topalovic