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June 14, 2016

The secret behind pinhole photography

Art & Cult

Pinhole photographer and visual anthropologist Josje Priester (30) started the Art of InfluX foundation after finishing her cultural anthropology study. Nowadays she knows all about pinhole photography, co-creation and manages several ongoing projects. One of her curated exhibitions ‘Favela Infocus’ is on show in Werkplaats right now. Time for a chat about finding stories, favelas and poetry.

First of all, what is Art of InfluX?
“With my foundation Art of InfluX I create international art projects based on inclusiveness and co-creation. I use pinhole photography as a means for interactive visual storytelling. Pinhole photography is taking photographs using a simple camera (effectively a light-proof box) fitted with a tiny hole known as a pinhole instead of a lens. I also organize lectures and workshops at schools and for businesses.”

How would you describe the way you approach your subject?
“I’m always on the lookout for interesting stories and curious to find out what moves people. This probably comes from an unstoppable desire to attempt to understand the world and my role in that world. Documentary film and photography have always been a love of mine. But somehow it did not feel right to become a documentary maker myself. It felt disproportional. I felt that the people whose views and stories it concerns, should be included in the end result itself. When I saw the documentary ‘Women Are Heroes’ about an art project of JR and the Brazilian movie ‘Historias que só existem quando lembradas’ where a traveler uses pinhole photography, it all came together. Pinhole photography creates the opportunity for a beautiful co-creation between me and the groups I work with.”

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You work with a special way of photographing. For those who don’t know; what is pinhole photography?
“It’s magic. To me, it is like poetry with light. We write with light. I like to call the participants ‘light poets’. You can’t just click away, as we do with our phones. It takes a lot of practice and time. In the meanwhile, this time that I spent with a certain group, teaches me how they give meaning to themselves and their living environment. For me as a curator the most important part is that the Light Poets feel that they are represented by the end result. Is the story told in the right way, is it representative and esthetical to look at? Favela Infocus was my first project. At first the youngsters thought I was kidding, making photos with tin cans, but they soon became fascinated by it. Working in the dark room was their favourite activity. The final exhibition in São Paulo made them very proud and they felt that what they had to say, was important to be heard. And that’s exactly how it is.”


Do you already have plans for a new project?
“‘Can you see me’, my newest project, is just finished. It focusses on young adults (20 to 30 years old) that have lived in refugee centers for the last two years. The project tries to let go of the often all-determining attributed label of ‘asylum seeker’ or ‘refugee’ and creates spaces for visual expression based on the individual. The exhibition will be on show from January on in De Melkweg Expo in Amsterdam.”

For more information on Art of InfluX, visit their website. The exhibition will be on show until the end of June.

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