Breukel~Koos – ME WE– The Circle of Life*
Author:Hedy van Erp, Koos Breukel, Erwin Mortier Publisher: Uitgeverij Kannibaal Year: 2013 Isbn: 9789491376641 Hardcover, 304 x 245 x 42 mm, first edition, 388 pp.Text in Dutch and English
“ME WE was the full text of the improvised poem that Muhammad Ali delivered to a crowd of Harvard students in 1975. It was a text that is believed to express ‘how great it is to be as great as I am’, a tribute to life.
Koos Breukel chose it as the title for his magnus opus so far: a book and a show bringing together pictures from the first 30 years of his career, focusing on the circle of life. However dark his portraits may feel, he is as passionate about life as Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) was. Be born, grow up, develop and express oneself, love, suffer and die. It was the major theme for Van der Elsken, and it is a major drive for Breukel as this exhibition and book make clear.
Koos Breukel’s aim throughout his nearly 30 year long career has been to produce truthful portraits, approaching his subjects with an unprejudiced integrity. Although Breukel has photographed many celebrities, his portraits are never superficial images which glorify the public persona. Instead, his warm approach and genuine interest in somebody’s life story has even won the hearts of people that are wary of media attention and photographers.
Breukel’s view contains an important humane aspect, a respectful interest in people, with sometimes big stories to tell. Pregnant women or women in labour lie down for the eye of the camera. The portraits he took of aircrash victims offered him a glimpse of their traumatised life and sometimes severely injured bodies. In the 1990’s, American dancer Michael Matthews asked him to witness the way aids was wrecking and ultimately destroying his body – moving images of a defenceless, emaciated body, covered by a skin that looks like crumbling paper.”
text from Paradox
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