Hans Rooseboom

Hans Rooseboom, curator photography at the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum:

“Cyanotype, or blueprint, is one of the oldest photographic techniques still in use.  The photogram tradition is also very much alive today: instead of creating an image with the camera, a single or several objects are placed directly on light sensitive paper, exposed to light, rinsed and dried. The result is a silhouette of the objects. This simple method still produces surprising and visually attractive photos, especially because the original object is not immediately recognisable. 

The first person to create cyanotype photograms on a large scale was Anna Atkins (1799-1871). From 1843 to 1853 she worked on the production of the world’s very first photo 
book: Photographs of British Algae; Cyanotype Impressions. An amateur botanist and lover of photography, she had no commercial objective: her plan was to furnish a recently published unillustrated reference book about British seaweed with images. Despite her scientific goal, her photos still speak to us now, 175 years later, because of their beauty, intriguing shapes and timelessness. 

Nowadays, cyanotype is used to create images of objects from nature or objects brought into nature. A clear example is the work of Marjo Meijer, who, in her Beach Prints, brings together the various objects she finds on beaches worldwide. Brought together in a large tableau, they form an intriguing web of silhouettes. In a novel fashion, they bring into view the variety of objects with which we surround ourselves; objects that often lead an unnoticed existence and usually escape our attention. 

The Drift Prints are a variant on the Beach Prints in that, on a single sheet of paper, Marjo Meijer creates a composition of hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic she also finds on beaches. Ordered in regular rows and displayed as silhouettes, she invites the viewer to be amazed about what it really is that they are seeing. 

With these two series, Marjo Meijer situates herself in a tradition that is far from exhausted and still inspires to create new results.”