Ellen Kooi: Beyond the Real
Institut Néerlandais, Paris
November 17 through December 22, 2010
121 rue de lille, 75007 Paris
+33 1 53 59 12 40
www.institutneerlandais.com

To coincide with Paris Photo, the Dutch Institute in Paris presents the first major exhibition in France of the young Dutch photographer Ellen Kooi. Ellen Kooi's work has been hailed by art critics and top curators for its originality and its other-worldly approach inspired by the Dutch landscape, with its dikes and vast polders.

Ellen Kooi's unique imagery has several origins. First, her interest in staging no doubt comes from the theatre, where she began her work as a hotographer. Her somewhat extravagant settings also make it possible to draw a parallel between her work and the world of Surrealism. Her interest in the absurd and in humour also echoes the work of many Dutch artists such as Teun Hocks, whose staged images make him very much part of the same movement.

Other characteristics of contemporary Dutch photography can also be seen in Ellen Kooi's work. For example, the fact that she perfects the composition of her images using digital technology is clearly linked to a penchant for manipulated photographs that can be found among many Dutch artists. Ellen Kooi uses this technique to accentuate the “de-realisation” of the staging, reinforcing the process using cinematographic elements. Her Hitchcockian shots, often very low-angled, force us to look at the scene from ground level, as if we were entering a world as intruders, like Alice in Wonderland; the other-worldliness of scenes suffused with very strange
colours – sometimes blurry, sometimes saturated or even garish – further underline the cinematographic nature of the setting; and the fact that the photos are often taken in panoramic format also invites comparisons with Cinemascope.