Photographed throughout Europe between 2002 and 2005, these tightly composed intimate views of family photographs within domestic environments explore the role that family photographs play in our lives, how they shape our identity and form both personal history and shared history. Represented by this body of work, van Manen is one of four artists featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s current exhibition, New Photography ‘05. In addition, our exhibition coincides with the release by Steidl Editions of the monograph Give me your Image, which presents the complete project.
Originally commissioned by the Swiss Ministry for Foreign Affairs to photograph immigrants in the suburbs of Paris, van Manen ultimately expanded the project to the homes of individuals in countries as diverse as Lithunia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Austria, France, Bulgaria, Moldovia and Holland. Van Manen was intrigued by the photographs her subjects choose to keep and to display; the ones immigrants chose to take with them from their homelands; and the ones others chose to contain their memories and delineate their personal histories. As she noted in her interview for Art Review Magazine (Dykstra, October 2005) “Very human things like death and birth and happiness and family are in all the pictures.” Seen together the photographs trace a rough history of Europe from World War I soldiers to a concentration camp of the Holocaust to political demonstrations in Spain and the last of the coal miners in England. The images are thoughtful and poignant, especially in light of the rapid development of digital technology, which threatens to make the family snapshot obsolete.
Born in The Hague, The Netherlands, in 1942, Van Manen currently lives and works in Amsterdam. Her extensive projects in the former Soviet Union and China were published respectively in books A Hundred Summers, A Hundred Winters (1994) and East Wind West Wind (2001). In 2003 she was nominated for the Citibank Photography Prize. Van Manen’s work has been exhibited in museums internationally including the Fotomuseum Wintherthur, the Reina Sophia and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo and her photographs are held in the collections of major institutions such the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Stedlijk Museum among others.