SANNE DE WILDE
APRIL 1 - MAY 1, 2014
OPENING RECEPTION: THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2014 6 - 11 pm
Evans Contemporary is pleased to present Snow White, the debut North American exhibition by Belgian photography talent, and rising star, Sanne De Wilde. Through her photographs, De Wilde contemplates the concepts surrounding the inherent power in the gaze and questions the thin line between subject and viewer. Reminiscent of the works of Diane Arbus and Rineke Dijkstra, De Wilde's photo compilations investigate the power of perception, outsider populations, cultural-anthropologic exploration of social charity initiatives, and the idea of the "other".
De Wilde's images present paradoxical sentiment for the viewer and allows us to question our own perceptions. In her award winning photo series, The Dwarf Empire, De Wilde lived with, and photographed the inhabitants of Dwarf Empire at the World Ecological Garden of Butterfly, an amusement park in the South-Chinese city of Kunming, where on a daily basis, seventy-seven little people present a song-and-dance show twice a day. Founded by the wealthy Chen Mingjing, who was determined to "do something good" for these individuals, the series questions the intersections of ethics, charity, commercialization, and the role of the gaze. In these photographs, we see the intimate living spaces of the protagonists, personal articles, costumed performers enjoying a brief respite, and even De Wilde herself. During her tenure at this unique and magical locale, De Wilde's initial exploration was turned on its head when she, as a foreigner and an eye-catching blond woman, began to draw a great deal of attention that resulted in the residents of the park including her as part of their fairy tale. No longer were the park inhabitants "small", rather, she was now "tall", and tourists began to request photographs both of her, and the little performers. Their requests were granted with the understanding that they were also required to take a photograph for De Wilde's project as well. Thus she became part of a world she had originally wanted to record as an outsider.
"I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercializing social care. Every story has two sides but in this place, every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern, anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my own making, and theirs. My own trick, forced upon myself.”
In Evans Contemporary's presentation of Snow White, De Wilde provides us with a series of powerful portraits of Albinos. To capture these images, De Wilde set up a temporary studios in each model's home and spent countless hours together fostering an environment of trust and comfort. Her intent was to cultivate an atmosphere of well-being so that the portrait sessions would be a personal and pleasant experience for each model. By setting aside all negative connotations, stereotypes, and feelings of photographic exploitation, the models could reveal themselves fully to the camera. The resulting images prove to be powerfully honest, unpretentious, or artificial in nature. Instead, the portraits exude lightness, spontaneity, and strength. For the subjects of Snow White, the models live with a physical trait that constantly makes them observed, yet unseen for who they really are. With these portraits, De Wilde presents to us the individual, and questions the viewers sense of what they want to see and what the subjects are asking them to see.
"You could say that Albinos, like photographic material, are light sensitive. Light leaves an irreversible imprint on their body. Their eyes can hardly bear the radiance of their own skin. This whiteness that makes them stand out, when captured in an image, almost makes them dissolve, consumed by the light. They are a metaphor, a symbol for stereotypes, they are food for the cruel curiosity of the viewer, they magnify the erroneous idea of human weaknesses and physical fragility but also of beauty. Touched by their breath-taking vulnerability, in this series, I try to create a powerful impression of this fragile white beauty."
SANNE DE WILDE
Sanne De Wilde is a Flemish photographer from Antwerp, Belgium. She received her BFA and MFA in photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent, Belgium and has been an exchange student at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, in Stockholm, Sweden.
Her exhibitions include shows at the Flemish art centre De Brakke Grond (Amsterdam), the Museum of Fine Arts (Antwerp), Konstfack (Stockholm), Green Room International Photofestival (Knokke, Belgium), BredaPhoto International Photofestival (Netherlands), the Photomuseum (Den Haag), Fotogalerie (Rotterdam) and Galerie Fotogram (Amsterdam).
De Wilde has gained international attention by accepting numerous awards for her work, and include the 16ème Prix National Photographie Ouverte (Belgium), Coalface Photo Contest (Belgium), The Photo Academy Award (Netherlands) and won the prestigious International Photography Award Emergentes DST at the Encontros Da Imagem in Braga, Portugal.
Her work has been published in GUP Magazine's New Dutch Photography 2014 publication and is one of thirty global photographers listed on the British Journal of Photography's 2014 One's to Watch list.
De Wilde currently resides in Amsterdam and is working as a freelance photographer for the De Volkskrant.