/26 Habitare

Bert Teunissen

Domestic Landscapes: A Portrait of Europeans at Home

Domestic Landscapes by the Dutch photographer Bert Teunissen is not just a series of photographs. It is a unique, extensive project, an anthropological study, a scientific and artistic source, a visual archive, an inventory as well as unique photographic vision on the concept of ‘home’ as part of a long tradition in wider Europe. For a period longer than seventeen years, Teunissen photographed the interiors of rural homes with their inhabitants present. He focussed on homes that were built before WWII. The people in the photographs were often born there. Teunissen portrayed them in the context of what is called material culture, but not with the aim to make an objective document. He considered light and atmosphere as important as the furniture, objects and tools present in the spaces. Both aspects are in his vision an integral part of the cultural heritage that is connected with place, living and working, landscape and tradition. In the European tradition, the idea of ‘home’ has never been solely related to protection from outside forces and dangers, but also with social concepts of personal life and family. Neither has it solely been seen as space for leisure – on the contrary: work, the land and the animals outside were often as much present, both physically and symbolically. Teunissen’s ambition was always to capture this amalgam of aspects in his pictures. Therefore he only made use of the existing, natural light, creating documents that communicate the experience of being present in these homes ourselves. Teunissen finalized the project in 2011 with 790 images from 25 countries. He created his archive in the decades when the rural traditions in Europe were dissapearing fast. Economic development, globalisation, the introduction of European regulations for the production of food, new agricultural technologies and the destruction of the landscape are making it impossibe to repeat. Nowehere in Europe exists a visual archive that has the potential to show future generations a culture that has existed for centuries (before dissapearing before our eyes in almost an instant).

See the archive at: www.domestic-landscapes.com