World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 174 - Esther Langendam
Esther Langendam made a beautiful photo series of the construction of Amadeus, the building on the corner of the Spui and the Kalvermarkt in The Hague. Some photos are a bit like those of Lewis Hine who, in the 1930s, captured construction workers who were working on a new skyscraper in New York high in the sky while balancing on a steel plate.
In other photos you see the construction workers and the progressing construction combined with the cloudy skies of Jacob van Ruisdael, and in other photographs, lines, grids and other patterns are the first to catch the eye. Amadeus started her love of photography in the construction industry, says Esther Langendam when I speak to her in her home in Kortenbos.
The photos were taken from the city hall. Esther: "I worked in the city hall for 12 years, I was a party assistant for the PvdA, the Dutch Labour party. I sat there warm and dry and looked out on a building in the making: Amadeus. I was surprised how that building was put down fast. I saw an anthill of construction workers and at the same time beautiful graphic patterns. And above that the changing skies: rain, dark clouds and then again a nice clear blue sky." Unfortunately, the number of seats of the PvdA after the 2014 elections went down so that there was a lot of cuts in the support of the party. Including the post of Esther. But she did not sit down sadly, she started for herself.
Esther has photographed from a young age. At the age of 10 she bought a plastic camera at the HEMA, the department store. "On a sunny day, on holiday with my parents in Austria, the camera melted on the parcel shelf of the car. But luckily the roll remained good. "
The style of the Interbellum
Esther went with her portofolio to the Fotovakschool in Rotterdam and was allowed to skip her propedeuse and was accepted. She let the rest of the training go and then went to various photo courses. This included developing and printing films in the darkroom. "Then you understand, among other things, how the light works in photography."
The social always came first, not only at the PvdA. "People around you, that's in my blood. I find it exciting to catch people at the photo. It's nice if you can get them at ease. Then you take your moment: you click. "
She is now working on a project about people who dress in the style of the Interbellum. One photo from that series is already hanging in the living room on the wall. A young woman in a beautiful thirties dress in a kitchen. "Fortunately, I have been able to find models for this series, but new models are still welcome, it has to be completely correct, the clothes and also the room where the person is located."
In September Esther wants to exhibit, then the series must be ready. This means that she is already working to find a suitable exhibition space for this.
Another photo project she is working on is about refugees. Esther has four Syrian refugees under her wings. "I help them to get to know the city, explain how democracy works here, I help them with the Dutch language and link them to other people. It goes pretty well with the refugees. They all studied in Syria, one almost graduated as a lawyer. Unfortunately, he can no longer finish his studies and is now working at a printing company." There was already an exhibition for this series of photographs.
Esther likes to organize. She organized two Puch (a Puch is a hip moped) festivals and the festival 'Echoes of Woodstock', all in the Trojan Horse (Paard van Troje). "Of course with the help of others, I was a Puch girl myself, first at the back of the boys and later I bought a Puch myself. The Hague boys with a Puch wore a parka coat and sat legged on the pedals and were therefore ‘Frogs’ (kikkers)." The Plu was their rival and they regularly attacked each other on the street ".
Esther has published a beautiful book about the Puch at De Nieuwe Haagsche publishing house: 'Puchfeest', with the subtitle 'My wife bought a Puch'. She shows it. Jan de Leef, her partner, would design it, but he died unexpectedly, relatively young. "Exactly on his 56th birthday."
"Well, there you are, your whole life is turned upside down." Robert-Jan Rueb said: "Go ahead, it's such a nice project." I did that. "Ernie Arkenbout took care of the design."
I see a picture passing by from Loet Muis, the captain of the Plu. In the sixties a legendary battle was going on between the Frogs and the Plu. The battle has since been settled in Café Westend in a protocol 'The Peace of The Hague'. Esther also worked on the TV program 'Made in the sixties', where the Puch riders from that time came to speak.
For her book Puchfeest, Esther also traced the girl (Wilma Hagen) of the famous Puch poster - with the tattoo on her upper arm - and the photographer Hes van Schoonhoven, who once made that famous photo. At this moment she is in contact with another model of the Puch advertisement. "Puch continues to trickle through my life." Her own Puch once stood as an object (‘Men’s dreams’) in the window of Marcello & Els gallery.
Her bookcase is full of photo books. "I love Paul Huf. Frans Lanting: brilliant." Teun Hocks is her great example. "He builds his own decor. There is so much humor in it. He is a painter and photographer." His signature with some text is in the book. "He's genius. Teun Hocks wants to tell a story with his work with a good dose of humor. I love that. And I also try that with my new Interbellum series of photos. Everyone can get their own story out of it. I am a happy person if people see a different story than I do. And it is great if you can inspire other people with your work. "
When she met Jan de Leef and Jan learned that she was taking pictures, his reaction was: "That woman can photograph well." Esther: "He was very pleased with that. That was before he started full-time printing on silk-screen art with his brother Frans. Jan and I regularly visited museums. We also went out making photos. "
Esther is a volunteer at Picture This The Hague. https://www.pf.nl/picturethis-den-haag/, four meetings a year in the Fotomuseum. At each meeting, the work of various (famous) photographers is discussed and the guest photographer himself also speaks about the progress of his / her work. “It is an interesting program for anyone who has to deal with photography and related matters. Also in the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam I like to come and in Pulchri I occasionally drink a glass of wine."
The new clothes of the emperor
Finally, does she have a good advice to the readers? She has. "Jan taught me: do not think everything is beautiful in art. Keep the fairy tale of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' in mind when you start looking at art. Sometimes people run after each other because someone calls that it is great. Stay critical. But apart from that, you can also get happy from it. That is the power of art. It is the gravy of life. "
1) and 2) Amadeus, 3) Noortje, 4) Tom, 5) Birthe, 6) The Hague Historical Museum, 7) Scaffolding, 8) Selfie with the King, Council Hall The Hague