Curated by Maren Lübbke-Tidow
Camera Austria, Graz
5 December 2014 – 15 February 2015
To date, the extensive work of Dutch artist Erik van der Weijde has primarily come to our attention in the form of his artist books, zines, and, more recently, also his magazine called SUBWAY. The photographer has presented more than forty publications over the last twelve years, released by his own publishing company 4478zine or in cooperation with the most prominent independent publishers, including Roma Publications, Rollo Press, Super Labo, and Kaugummi Books. Van der Weijde approaches his topics with great conceptual clarity. The idea as catalyst for copious research; the process of photographing on site (at least in black and white) without undue effort yet with strong precision; the concise selection of pictures during the process of constellating series; the reduction of text to dry information; the production process of making a book, including design, typography, selection of format and paper; the printing technique and binding specific to each book; and finally, the distribution via his own publishing house or via partners from the publishing and distribution sector. Each individual aspect of book-making is founded on precisely calculated decisions related to form and content and is subject to visual monitoring and strategic decisions. Instead of telling stories, Van der Weijde’s work is propelled by remaining embedded in the visual and by arriving at thematic strategies in precisely this sphere.
Erik van der Weijde’s photographic practice is therefore closely linked to his sweeping editorial and publishing practice, with his artwork virtually becoming ordered through the production of zines and books. However, his editing and publishing efforts most especially serve to facilitate the “reading” of his images, which are committed to an unfalsifying documentary style.
It is no coincidence that his upcoming project scheme of creating a comprehensive publication to chronicle the last twelve years of his publishing pursuits as a kind of dérive coincides with increased exhibition activity. This has arisen from his desire to more clearly impart the cosmological context of his image complexes—and to present, more strongly than before, that which has evolved in terms of form and content into individual work series (and therefore into zines and artist books) as an artistic project that brings these photographs together.
When we reflect on the artist books by Erik van der Weijde with his “4478Zine Publishing Manifesto” in mind—which meanwhile contains fourteen simply yet precisely phrased paragraphs—a renewed connection to the strategies of 1960s Conceptual Art readily becomes apparent: departure from the individual image, creating work series, commitment to a documentary style, the ostensible banality of what is captured, bowing to a research-based idea, the book as art form and democratic medium. All of these basic principles are found to be quite accurately honoured in Van der Weijde’s publications. They should thus most definitely be viewed in relation to the type of artist book established by Ed Ruscha.
Each of his books is dedicated to a particular subject, none of which seem to relate to the others, for example, housing settlements erected in Nazi Germany, car crashes, animals, portraits of mother and son in staged and re-enacted family photos, corruption in Brazilian politics, found pictures of tanks, firearms, fighter planes, and bonsai plants, prostitution, street lanterns designed by Albert Speer, mighty trees in ominous places, his son sleeping, his mother-in-law in a domestic setting, the Amsterdam canals viewed from a boat, recurring elements in everyday Brazilian culture, Oscar