I had a conversation with Dutch photographer Hanneke van Leeuwen about her work and the time she spent visiting Johannesburg.
Growing up with a mother who is a sculptor, Hanneke always knew she was going to take on some kind of creative practice. When she was 15 she received her first analogue camera as a gift from her mother, and began shooting portraits of her friends and other parts of her everyday life. She converted part of her room into a dark room to be able to develop the images herself. From these images she put together a portfolio and went to art school.
Unsure of how to move forward with her passion after school, Hanneke began assisting other photographers which allowed her to fulfill her love for travelling. Five years ago she met photographer Viviane Sassen and was given the opportunity to become her first assistant. She expressed with gratitude that working with Viviane has helped her push passed the initial creative barrier she faced and has enabled her to find a direction for her own work.
For Hanneke photography is like telling a story in short lines, like a poem. In explaining how she lets these stories unfolds she stated that, “I don’t think of a concept before I take them [photographs]. I just create them in the camera or afterwards in collages.”. Taking influence from her mother’s way of looking at human bodies, Hanneke creates her photographs in a sculptural way. With 20th century Surrealism as another point of reference, she constructs collages with her photographs, allowing her work to transcend the 2D surface. “I love the texture of skin. I love the texture of fabric, of the paper,” Hanneke expressed. The viewer is able to see the tape she uses the piece her collages together, creating more layers.
She enjoys working collaboratively with other artists. “I want to share things. I want to create with other people,” she expresses. With a desire for creatives to help each other more, Hanneke was encouraged by the collaborative energy that she witnessed while spending time in Johannesburg. “It is so special that people here are aware of their backgrounds and they can create something together.”.
Among other things Hanneke is going to be working with Parisian artist Caroline Denervaud on a collaborative project that will be coming out in May/June.