The first International Photo Biennale Ostend will occupy various indoor and outdoor locations with contemporary and conceptual photographic work. A route of surprising exhibitions with work by thirty photographers crosses the City by the Sea – from Fort Napoleon to Mu.ZEE. The first edition will take place from September 4 to October 24, 2021.
Ruud van Empel in the Leopold Park
After his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts St. Joost in Breda, Ruud van Empel moved to Amsterdam in the 1980s, where he continued to develop as a visual artist. Van Empel does not see photography as a form of documentary, but of imagination. Until the mid-1990s, the artist created his photographic assemblages using traditional collage techniques – cutting, pasting, retouching – but in 1995 he switched to digital processes (read: today he uses his computer to create his conceptual works). . Each image is made up of photos that he has taken himself and then digitally edited. Van Empel not only changed the face of digital art photography with it, with his art historical references, temporal structures and universal themes he even created a separate genre within photography. The Dutch artist made an international breakthrough with his Moon-World-Venus series, which was shown in, among others, Fotografiska in Stockholm, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and the Groninger Museum in Groningen.
With World, Ruud van Empel delves into xenophobia – the fear of strangers. The result is a series that is an obvious response to, among other things, racism and homophobia in society. The artist does not adopt an activist stance, but in his series he shows a world in which everyone is equal, however much we may all differ from each other. The distinction in race is artificial, and Van Empel wants to underline that with World. Quite different are the Voyage Pittoresque and Theater series – a kind of democratization of diverse landscape appearances. The photographer shows ideal landscapes that are aesthetically overwhelming due to the refined use of color and the creation of visual order in natural chaos. What Van Empel normally does in his portraits – each character shown with the same intensity, including who is in the background – he now also does in these panoramas. The artist guides the viewer through the blooming vegetation of overgrown landscapes, so that they experience the lack of overview as insightful.