Let’s Sit Down Before We Go, a Photography Book by Bertien van Manen

by Denis on February 9, 2012

Bertien van Manen is a Dutch photographer with a long and distinguished list of exhibitions, books and prizes to her credit. She has an eye and feel for domesticity as well as a curiosity for how others live their lives.

In a 2009 interview with Bint Photobooks, the interviewer noted how, in the United States, images of the Soviet Union are consistently read as ‘depressing’ and ’spiritually depleted’ and asked van Manen how she felt about the reaction to her work overseas.

“Perhaps Americans are a bit more moralistic than Europeans? I never looked for “photogenic poverty”, I photographed what was there. What shocked me was the reaction of Ljoeda, the lady in whose house I always stayed in Moscow. She was angry because I was showing her table without a tablecloth and because I wrote about the fridge in which they had stored their administration instead of food. Some Russian people who, after seeing my pictures, realized how poor they were, they were so used to this life, they did not see it anymore. And they had to go on living in it, having for dinner nothing but carrots and cabbage and some meat every day. I could go home to Holland, where I was confronted with the abundance in the supermarkets.”

Of her most recent book, Let’s Sit Down Before We Go, van Manen says “The photos in this book have been made between 1991 and 2009 in Russia, Moldova, Kazachstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tatarstan, Georgia. The editing and sequencing of the images have been done by Stephen Gill. The title of these series, ‘Lets’s sit down before we go’, is a metaphor for the subject of the images. An old habit in Russia. Before leaving for a long journey, people sit down for a moment and think about where they will be going and why…”

The special edition of Let’s Sit Down Before We Go, published by Mack, is signed and numbered (edition of 15 + 2 APs) and it comes with a hand-made c-type print (24×20 cm, choice of 3 different prints) signed and numbered by the artist. The book is housed in a bespoke embossed linen clam-shell portfolio box and it can be purchased directly from the publisher’s website for $1750.


by Denis on February 9, 2012

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