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Queen Swan

As a young photographer, I was pretty confused. I guess most young people are confused in one way or another. My mother was a war victim, my father a loving but somewhat depressed alcoholic, and as far as I know I was doing pretty good until a horse accident at age twelve crippled me. It was not so much the handicap that bothered me. It was the way other people dealt with my handicap that nearly drove me insane. I won’t go into detail about my adventures with medical doctors, nurses, teachers etc. but all these experiences resulted in a profound disgust of authority and what is or was to be considered normal.

Looking back on it all and awaiting two new operations indirectly resulting from that same accident in 1967, it seems so obvious why I chose to become a studio photographer instead of traveling around the globe as most young ambitious photographers would do. I had enough problems walking straight, so carrying equipment around was not really an option for me.

This hatred of everything that is to be considered normal also guided me towards the subjects I photographed. People who were all but middle of the road. People like me, although I did not yet understand that at the time. Like most people suffering from psychological problems I thought I was sane while the rest of the world was insane. John Lennon once wrote a beautiful line: One thing you can’t hide / Is when you’re crippled inside.

It took me decades to come to terms with who I am and once I finally got to that point in my life my photographs started to change dramatically. Color was introduced in abundance. And I became fascinated with people who could dance or play soccer. All these things I had wanted to ignore because I could not participate.

Some time ago I was doing a video on the Amsterdam School of Burlesque and while setting up my camera a dancer was practicing on stage. I looked at her movements and I was fascinated. These were the precise and elegant moves of a professional ballerina and as I found out later she was in fact just that.

Of course, I had to photograph her in the studio and to my surprise, she said yes and we did a photo shoot with the top hat and the black tutu. After she left I looked at the stick I use on days that I cannot walk at all and regretted not having that stick in the picture because it fitted in perfectly. So we redid the shoot and this is the result.

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