Johan van der Keuken

Active - 1963 - 2000  |   Born - 1938   |   Died - Jan 17, 2001 in Amsterdam  |   Genres - Culture & Society [nf], Music [nf], Nature [nf]

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"The scourge of documentary films is to attempt to explain the world. . .For me, in cinema, the dimension of not knowing is always enormous." Dutch filmmaker/photographer Johan VanDerKeuken's philosophy regarding his art gives great insight into his view of the responsibilities of a documentary filmmaker. In order to accurately portray an individual or moment in time it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of every component that applies to the subject. With almost a half century of credits to his name, and several awards in recognition of his contributions as a photographer and documentarian, VanDerKeuken has created portraits that at once evoke an understanding and sympathy for his subject, while at the same time giving the viewer an image that will remain forever linked with the story told. Born in 1938, VanDerKeuken had a keen eye for imagery from early on, taking photos from the age of 12. With the publication of his first book of photography, We Are 17, when he was just 17, VanDerKeuken's career in photography was official. As a result of the recognition of his published works, he received a scholarship to the prestigious Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographiques in Paris, where he would become an adherent to the cinéma vérité tradition. One of VanDerKeuken's earliest works, Blind Child (1968), was praised for its compassionate and artistic portrait of blind schoolchildren and their perception of their surroundings. With the use of montage sequences, voiced over with the observations of the children, VanDerKeuken was able to use artistic expression to portray the sightless children's unique perspective of the world. VanDerKeuken continued to refine his art in such documentaries as I LOVE $ (1986), Amsterdam Global Village (1996), and Last Words -- My Sister Yoka (1998), in which he documented his sister's enduring struggle with cancer, a struggle that he too would endure and eventually succumb to. A true citizen of the world in every sense, VanDerKeuken's photographic body of work has been exhibited and praised worldwide, even becoming part of a permanent collection of the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in Paris. On January 7, 2000, Johan VanDerKeuken died of cancer at the age of 62.

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