Power to the Models - Curated by Jan Hoek
9 September – 29 November 2020
A coproduction by Stedelijk Museum Breda & BredaPhoto
In Power to the Models, photographer and curator Jan Hoek is radically overturning the balance of power between photographer and model. It is not the photographer who determines the image, but the model. Jan Hoek explores the power of the photographer and questions it.
Jan Hoek has had exhibitions in the Netherlands, China, Russia and the US. Press coverage of his work, with its clear common thematic thread, includes The New York Times and The Guardian. “The focus is always on balances of power, and those on the fringes of society. My work deals with people who are somehow, to some extent excluded. I’m always asking: how can we work together to turn an outsider into an insider?” (Jan Hoek)
Power to the Models proposes an encouraging alternative for the current status quo. The exhibition inspires people reconsider the notion of power: should it lie with the photographer, or with the people he or she captures? The models have escaped stereotypes and prejudice. They are demonstrating what it means to be able to be oneself.
We have become used to photographers being the ones who set the terms for a fashion shoot or a news report. The majority of media images – whether they concern people living in slums, sex workers, super models or politicians – are shot by Western photographers. This perspective, however, is beginning to shift.
The shift is part of a wider debate in society and in politics on power and diversity: who determines who is in the picture, and what that picture looks like? Because the photographer’s gaze is such a determining factor, images can be role-enforcing or stigmatizing. They are often at odds with people’s individuality.
To break out of this pattern, Jan Hoek (1984) has asked eleven models from a variety of backgrounds to have themselves captured on camera the way they themselves would like to be portrayed. They have chosen their own photographer, location, outfit, make-up and presentation. Hoek has curated the project, but the models’ own ideas take centre stage.
Power to the Models participants: Baqteria, Bruin Parry, Chiara Bardelli Nonino, Dick de Koning, Hatti Rees, Ismail Ilgun, Jyoti Weststrate, Lotte van Eijk, Mohan Verstegen, Sylvana Simons and DJ Tiësto.