Hans Eijkelboom is a Dutch photographer whose work revolves mainly around typologies, specifically anthropological street photography. His work is influenced by August Sander, Walker Evans, the Bechers and Garry Winogrand. Eijkelboom also has a great affinity with Martin Parr as they both offer a critical review on how complicated life can be. He has an extremely interesting work technique. He goes to a city and looks for a good place with lots of passing pedestrian traffic. He will look around for ten minutes or so and decides his theme for the day. Then he shoots for two hours, no more. He hangs his camera around his neck and uses his remote shutter release, which is in his pocket, when he takes a photograph. He lays his images out in grids complete with a date stamp beneath, also noting the place and time period.
His style is quirky to say the least. Some of the sets are of men strolling the streets sans shirts revealing muscular torsos and enviable six packs; people caught unawares snoozing on a train; businessmen dressed in mackintoshes carrying briefcases; women dressed in brightly coloured floral or geometric print dresses and tunics; men dressed in denim jeans and denim jackets; women carrying the same designer store shopping bags – the series are endless.
Eijkelboom claims his work is “always about identity. In the beginning it was about my identity, and now it’s more about identity generally in society”1. When one looks at his various grids, one becomes aware that identity is very fluid. We are under the assumption that we all have our own sense of fashion and style, but when we look at Eijkelboom’s work, we can clearly see the herd mentality coming to fore. No one really wants to be all that different, so we try and “conform” to various trends that we are most comfortable identifying with.
People are looking for ways to have an identity, to find the answer to the question: are you a product of the culture you live in or are you something really of yourself?
Hans Eijkelboom (2014)2
It is interesting that he remarks that we are all products of the culture in which we live. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements telling us to buy this product or that product so that we can assert our individuality, but we all really tend to forget that thousands of other people are receiving and acting upon that very same message. In today’s society and cultures, it is extremely difficult to forge a unique identity. Every purchase we make has been subconsciously influenced by some type of advertising, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.
In viewing Eijkelboom’s work, we try and find our place in his typology grids: are we the Asian couples who stroll the streets arm in arm, or the pink T-shirt clad ladies? Maybe we’re at home among the plaid shirt brigade, or just maybe we’re the hunks whizzing down the street on our roller-blades…
- Phaidon (2014) Ten questions for photographer Hans Eijkelboom [Online]. Phaidon. Available at: http://ca.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/articles/2014/october/02/ten-questions-for-photographer-hans-eijkelboom/ [Accessed 14 June, 2016]
- Pellerin, Ananda (2014). Hans Eijkelboom on Photography for Aliens [Online]. AnOther. Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/4045/hans-eijkelboom-on-photography-for-aliens [Accessed 14 June, 2016]
Eijkelboom, Hans (2004) 31 December, 2004, Amsterdam, NL 13:00 – 14:00 [Photograph] Available at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/4045/hans-eijkelboom-on-photography-for-aliens [Accessed 14 June, 2016]
Strategy, Johnny (2014). Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike [Online]. Colossal. Available at: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/12/photographer-spends-20-years-documenting-how-we-all-dress-exactly-alike/ [Accessed 14 June, 2016]