Photo book / 78 pp, 24 x 33 cm, re-issued 2010 / Full color, Design by Mariken Wessels / 2008
Elisabeth - I want to eat -
Elisabeth - I want to eat - consists of a collection of anonymous photographs, letters and postcards belonging to a young woman, which the artist stumbled upon in a shop in the Hendrik Jacobszstraat in Amsterdam. The found material was appropriated by photographing the images, creatively processing and arranging them, as well as occasionally adding other material. The photographs depict a young woman defiantly posing in front of the camera, both figuratively and literally exposing herself. The black and white photographs are worn out, frayed by numerous scratches and dust particles, blending together both the exaltation and melancholy recorded in them.
Apart from the photographs, the book carries a series of printed postcards and letters addressed to Elisabeth, from which the reader gradually infers that her life was thrown off track in some way. ‘Religion, order, discipline, detachment from the quest for ambition’ – these are, in brief, the ingredients of advice with which a family member proposes to ‘heal’ her. Yet the person giving her advice himself tells no straightforward story. One is in fact left wondering which of the two people is more bizarre.
There is a stark contrast in the book between the idyllic landscapes in the postcards painted in sweet watercolour and the disarming directness of Elisabeth’s gaze into the camera. The book contains thin colour-paper inserts on which the letters and postcards to Elisabeth almost transform into a direct appeal to the reader. The title of the publication is taken from the only letter in the book penned by Elisabeth herself, addressed to an unknown friend:
‘(...) The last time I saw you it was nice and I felt much better. Are you still in Brussels? I don’t know but I liked the house you lived and the streets there. I want to eat.’
The book has been re-issued by Alauda Publications in 2010. It was initially self-published in 2008 in a small edition of 150 copies and was widely acclaimed. It won the Silver Medal Book Award at the Fotofestival di Roma and was recently acquired by the MoMA collection in New York. The book can be ordered at Johan Deumens Gallery, Alauda Publications and other book stores, see the links page.