press release

For Document Nederland, the annual photography assignment which the Rijksmuseum organises in collaboration with newspaper NRC Handelsblad, photographer Ilse Frech stayed 4 months on Curaçao and Bonaire. Over fifty photographs show Frech's quest for the very soul of these islands, on the eve of autonomy. Kunsthal Rotterdam has the honour to exhibit Document Nederland 2010. The exhibition gives an impressive account of the contemporary Antilles, and is part of the thirteenth edition of Document Nederland. This photography assignment always focuses on one specific, current social theme. The Netherlands Antilles are scheduled to be dissolved as a unified political entity in the autumn of 2010, as a result of which 400 years of shared history between the Netherlands and the Antilles will come to an end. The five constituent islands will attain new constitutional statuses within the Kingdom of the Netherlands: the islands of Curaçao and Saint Martin are to accomplish an autonomous ‘status apart', just like Aruba, whereas Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba are slated to become special municipalities within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Past and future

During her stay Ilse Frech took photographs of the specific and distinct culture of each of the islands: she photographed family life, professional life, male societies, nightlife and consumer culture. Frech encountered many people on her journey and was clearly fascinated by people with strong personalities, mostly women. She portrayed these people and scanned the rough and mystic landscape with her camera, looking for possible links in the history of the Antilles. She captures slave huts, salt mines and the ruins of plantations, aswell as the urban landscape made by mankind. The inhabitants and their personal stories almost become tangible through her poetic, still portraits. Her photographs give a colourful impression of a complex, at some points somewhat split society, that is not only full of mystic spirituality but at the same time also of material externality.

only in german

Document Nederland: Zjeitu
Ilse Frech photographs Curacao and Bonaire