Taco Hidde Bakker

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Edges of the Experiment – The Making of the American Landscape

At the request of Fw:Books and under the heat of the 2014 summer I made numerous imaginary, armchair and late-night cinematic journeys into Monument Valley. What resulted is a lavishly illustrated essay on how that dusty and rocky land tucked away in a corner of Arizona and three other states did become iconic over the course of the 20th century. And writer and cinema enthusiast Felix van de Vorst contributed three short texts on how director John Ford has appropriated Monument Valley for his sweeping frontier film epics.

‘God’s Studio: The Iconization of Hostile and Ugly Land’ & ‘John Ford’s Monument Valley: 3 films’ have now been published in a wonderful double volume dedicated to the American landscape photographs by Marie-José Jongerius and the interactions between man and nature in the ongoing process of the “civilization” of the American West. The books have been designed and edited by Hans Gremmen. Raymond Frenken wrote all the texts accompanying Jongerius’s photographs and also delivered a nice essay on the desert music scene of southern California, around Joshua Tree National Park. 

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The Documentary Conversation

Last winter I wrote the long essay The Documentary Deficit, commissioned by Dutch Doc (Dutch Documentary Photography Foundation) and FotografenFederatie, on the state of the documentary photography debate in The Netherlands. I posted the English version of my essay at my page at academia.edu where you can read it in full. In addition to the long essay , in which I try to grapple with the slippery issue of the definition of documentary (photography), I wrote a mini-essay which accompanied Dutch Doc’s exhibition showing all 34 longlisted projects for the Dutch Doc Award 2014, at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, 23 May – 6 July 2014.


The Documentary Conversation

How does a photojournalist differ from a documentary photographer? The latter not only collects a series of photographs about a certain theme, but also approaches his subject based on a research question, a concept and a personal perspective. Perhaps the opposition between ‘to react’ and ‘to begin’ will cast a new light on the matter. A photojournalist supposedly reacts, while the documentary photographer initiates. He takes up a task, an inquiry, negotiations; he gets a conversation going.

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Out Now: Black Box Theory

For the series Spiegelrefleksies (Mirror-reflections), curated by Danielle Lemaire for Extrapool (Nijmegen, NL), I created a publication called ‘Black Box Theory’. It’s an apperceptive visual theory of ten images sometimes in combination with text, partly inspired by the photogrammatic works of Babs Decruyenaere, and completed by a short prose poem.
Astrid Florentinus made a drawing based on the title -> Input: Black Box Theory; Output: a wonderful drawing (that perfectly fits the ‘theory’).
The risograph presses at the stencil workshop of Knust delivered a beautiful and tactile job.

Taco Hidde Bakker – Black Box Theory
Spiegelrefleksies #4, Knust/Extrapool, 2013
10 prints, 183 x 264 mm, in a sewn folder
Limited edition of 70, signed and numbered.
€ 20 (VAT & shipping excluded)
Order at taco[at]tacohiddebakker[dot]com (PayPal available)

 P1010887W P1010902W

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Spiegelrefleksies / Mirror-reflections

Next week I’ll be in Nijmegen to work on my publication in the series Spiegelrefleksies. Extrapool-curator Danielle Lemaire invited me to participate in this exciting series, bringing together practitioners and writers/thinkers with an extraordinary fascination for photography. Sunday afternoon 8 september, Antwerp-based artist Babs Decruyenaere and I will be hosting a live-darkroom session, in which we’ll invite the audience to make photograms in a temporary darkroom, thus contributing to an improvised exhibition that will only last a mere four hours. Afterwards we’ll serve a small black-and-white dinner.

Welcome to the black box – Live Doka — Spiegelrefleksies #4, 8 september, 15:00, Extrapool, Tweede Walstraat 5, Nijmegen.

Spiegelrefleksies #4

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For artist/filmmaker Dinanda Luttikhedde I wrote an essay on the occasion of her new filmproject DUIF (PIGEON). It is described by her as “a visual concert about a pigeon fancier waiting for the return of his dearest pigeon. A performance about longing, loneliness, teletext, shag-tobacco, and the benefit of the fluorescent tube.” DUIF consists of a tripartite screen presentation with a live-soundtrack by musicians Mike Kramer and Romke Kleefstra, with a spoken poem in Frisian (my mother’s mother tongue) by Jan Kleefstra. Douwe

My essay, which will be published in a booklet accompanying the presentations of DUIF / PIGEON, focuses on the relationship between man and animal and our troubled view of and complicated attitude towards ‘nature’.

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For a new book by artist and photo collector Rein Jelle Terpstra, I translated two essays written by Arjen Mulder & Hanne Hagenaars plus an interview with the artist, from Dutch into English (many thanks to Annie Goodner for excellent proofreading). Terpstra’s book is based on his project Retracing in which he collaborated with people having progressive eye disease. It will be published by post editions in september 2013 and launched during the Unseen Photo Fair 2013. Retracing is about visual perception and becoming blind, about the tension between remembrance and forgetting, about images and imagination in relation to words and language, about tactility of photographic material versus projections amongst many other intriguing issues … a photobook to look forward to.



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The Photobook Club Amsterdam

PBC AMSMatt Johnston’s wonderful concept of the The Photobook Club has also reached Amsterdam, where last April Shirley Agudo and I organized a first meeting with ten people. The concept of our meetings subscribe to Matt’s statement: “The Photobook Club aims to promote and enable discussion surrounding the photo book format.” In informal meetings we bring together people from different educational and professional backgrounds, but with love and interest for the (photo) book, or the eagerness to learn more about it through round table discussions (though we keep the academic jargon limited to a minimum). Each meeting will feature at least two photobooks. Sometimes favorites picked by attendees, other times themes might be suggested, or choices prompted by actual events.

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I Know a Horse When I See One

Hildenbrand Csikos Horse

At the first meeting of the Photobook Club Amsterdam, last April, I presented Michael Lesy’s book Wisconsin Death Trip (1973) and jokingly stated: “A good photobook begins with an image of a horse.” In Lesy’s brilliant and mesmerizing photobook the first seven (!) photos show a horse. Encountering many fascinating and often weird “horse photographs” since, prompted me to open a Tumblr dedicated to the horse in photography: I Know a Horse When I See One. (Thanks to Rein Jelle Terpstra for suggesting the title).


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I’m happy to have contributed two double-pages to this weird and wonderful book called Rheum (2013). It is a first book publication by a collective called foundfootage.be, with one big foot in the beautiful city of Ghent:

foundfootage.be is an online platform, on which different types of ‘found’ material are brought together. This material can be provided by artists but also comes from everyday sources. On our website we use subjective selection criteria. ‘Rheum’ is an experimental vision on this practice.

Further contributions to Rheum come from, among others, Robert Urquhart, Brad Feuerhelm, Brad Tinmouth, Kevin Kelly, and Daniel Barocca.

Book design & lay-out by Louis Reith

Hardcover bound in an edition of 250.

You can order the book at foundfootage or with me (PayPal available)

€ 35,00 + shipping

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Foam Magazine #34 Dummy

Cover Foam Magazine #34 Dummy

I contributed four interviews to Foam Magazine #34 – a special issue about photobook dummies (not photobooks for dummies, but dummy dummies) – instead of the usual magazine format, it’s a box containing eight 16-page reproductions of dummies by young and/or emerging photographers, and a booklet with interviews, advertisements, book reviews and other regularities.

Foam Magazine’s editors selected eight book dummies from the huge pile that was submitted to photofestival Unseen‘s Unpublished Dummy Award 2012. One of those is Shinji Otani’s strange and wonderfully laid-out The Country of the Rising Sun, which won the Dummy Award and will soon be published by Lecturis, with design and typesetting by Our Polite Society.

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