Fotoboek If I Can Dream

if i can dreamThe photographs in this book were made in the autumn of 1989 during a 6-week trip through the United States of America. The starting point was New York, the city where I stayed for more than a week. With the Greyhound bus I then travelled to Pittsburgh – Chicago – St. Louis – Memphis – New Orleans – Nashville and finally Washington.

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A few months before this trip I had successfully graduated from the School for Photography in The Hague. The 1980s were coming to an end, years of economic recession and unemployment. Dark and gloomy tones dominated the alternative music scene and you could find this atmosphere also reflected in photography. Especially my images of New York are in this gritty black and white style. With my old Yashica camera I walked through the city taking photographs on sensitive negative film. Regularly I angled the camera down slightly to create an oppressive mood. It was my first time in New York and I knew the city mainly from films like The French Connection, Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. With those movies in the back of my mind, the city seemed to be one big film set and, as a film fan, I tried to let this cinematic atmosphere resonate in my photography.

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On the second day of my stay in New York, I visited a retrospective of Edward Hopper’s work in the Whitney Museum of American Art. This exhibition made a big impression on me and inspired me greatly. The subjects of Hopper’s art–urban scenes, country landscapes, and the people who inhabit them–convey a sense of yearning and nostalgia. The people in his paintings seem isolated, cut off from the mainstream and non-communicative. During the rest of my journey, Edward Hopper’s work influenced my photography.

if i can dreamNew YorkPittsburghif i can dreamif i can dreammemphis, tennesseeif i can dreamNew OrleansNew Orleansif i can dream

A month after returning to the Netherlands my Yashica broke. Repair was too expensive, so the images in this book are the last photos I took with this camera. It was my first 35mm camera. Now, almost thirty years later, I have taken the negatives from my archive and looked at them on a light box. The journey reappeared before my eyes with bittersweet memories of locations, moods and long nights of printing in my darkroom. I decided to digitize the negatives and create this book.

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