The portraits in this exhibition have nothing in common at first glance. From a model named Birk on his way to fame to Randy, an adolescent boy who grows up in Ely, Nevada.
There are portraits of young people and of elderly people, of broken shopping trolleys and of worn out hands. Beautiful and ugly. But does ugly actually exist? Not in the images of Robin de Puy. She finds beauty in what others regard as unsightly.
Unexpected, moving beauty is what links the photos in the exhibition LOVE ME. And in every image De Puy is present. As a photographer she determines who participates in her photographic world, she is the director. And in her world everyone has a very specific, undeniable beauty.
De Puy selects her models based on a very personal criterion: there must be a sense of recognition between her and the person portrayed. They are not weirdos, as she says herself; she is not looking for the sensation of the deviant, like her famous predecessor Diane Arbus did. De Puy is looking for a mental or physical beauty with an edge. The vulnerability of the individual who sometimes is on the margins of society ... Or the deviant beauty of people with a disability or - sometimes literal - scars of life. Robin de Puy is searching for where pain becomes beauty.
She is consistently confronting our preconceived ideas of who belongs and who does not, who meets the social norm and the prevailing ideal image. And last but not least, she is confronting herself. De Puy recognizes herself in the people she portrays. The vulnerability that you feel as an adolescent, when you are insecure and anxious and you wonder whether others will accept you. The fear that life sometimes evokes, the desire to be seen and to be loved.
The search for a feeling of security is sometimes literally in the photos. The photographer herself curls up in the arms of artist Marina Abramović. Or, the other way around, shields a young naked girl in her coat, while looking straight into the lens herself. She shows the vulnerability of others but also reveals herself, sometimes literally in her self-portraits.
LOVE ME is a romantic exhibition. The romance is in the often nostalgic landscapes and in the subtle visual language in black and white, with all shades of gray in between. Because the world of Robin de Puy is not black and white; for it shows all hues.
Robin de Puy (1986) grew up in the town of Oude-Tonge in South Holland, where her parents run a family hotel. In 2009 she completed her education at the Fotoacademie in Rotterdam and started her successful career as a photographer. She won, among other things, the Photo Academy Award (2009) and the Dutch Portrait Award (2013).
In 2015 she rode twelve thousand kilometers through the US on a Harley Davidson, which led to the photo book and exhibition ‘If this is true, I’ll never have to leave home again’ in the Fotomuseum Den Haag (2016). Filmmaker Simone de Vries and cameraman Maarten van Rossem made a documentary about her road trip which in 2017 was nominated for an International Emmy Award.
During her adventure in the US, De Puy encountered the teenage boy Randy in a small town in Nevada. A friendship arose and De Puy returned several times to photograph him. These photos are published in the book ‘Randy’ and were shown in 2018 at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht.
Robin de Puy photographs and directs for large national and international titles such as De Volkskrant, M Le Monde, New York magazine and for companies such as Het Nationale Ballet.