Paul Kooiker

Paul Kooiker

Works from Hunting and Fishing.

Bonus post! I found some more blurry / out of focus works today. My theory of all out-of-focus photography coming from German born or trained photographers is shot, Kooiker is Dutch all the way. I am fully aware that these images are spreads, but I decided to leave the page number on the verso because they add a balance that I can only assume was very intentional when designing the book.

“Kooiker’s photos are rich with allusions. Out of focus, filled with warm dappled light, they recall the lush canvases of impressionism or the optical experiments of Vermeer. His subjects, young women running nude across grass-covered dunes and through lightly wooded forests and meadows, remind us of the complicated history of the female nude in art: Bernini’s Daphne, chased by Apollo, who escapes her pursuer by turning into a laurel tree; Venetian painting, with its preponderance of warm, fleshy Venuses, nymphs, and Madonnas; and a century-and-a-half of French painting devoted to bathers, odalisques, and prostitutes: Boucher to Ingres, Delacroix to Courbet, Manet to Gauguin and Matisse.

The soft focus and tone of his photographs reminds us of Balthus’ titillating canvases, 1950’s blue movies, airbrushed soft-pornography, or 1970’s advertisements for shampoo, or condoms, with their wholesome, back-to-nature sensibility, cribbed from radical i96os hippie naturalism and watered down for mainstream consumers.
 And then there is the title, “Hunting and Fishing,” which reminds us of the links between photography and hunting: the linguistic and practical associations between terms like “shooting” and the hurried “snapshot.” 
Kooiker´s photos are imbued with mytho-historical quotations, however they resist easy readings. Are his subjects being hunted, or are they the hunters, enticing viewers into the landscape? Do they run from us, like Daphne, or lure us, like the sirens? He traffics in Images that are tremendously powerful: archetypes or, perhaps, cliches, borrowed from art and history and the media and remade a new. Looking at them, we don´t know whether to laugh or protest. Are we observing the goddess of the hunt (Diana), or the hunted (Daphne)? Should we decry the use of female bodies in art, or applaud these women, who scamper through the countryside like nudists out for a weekend jog? 
Kooiker Stands back from his photos, offering nothing-except the example (and weight) of history. Photographs, he seems to say, stand on their own; as Roland Barthes once described them, messages “without a code.” But his photographs acknowledge and reflect what came before them. And so Kooiker becomes a curator, culling from art and advertising, mythology, photography and film to create Images of women that are both startling in their novelty and anciently familiar.” – Martha Schwendener, courtesy of the artist.

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