Humans have been walking since the dawn of time, but when did we start hiking in nature for pleasure? Using a wet-plate camera, Tomas van Houtryve explored the original hiking trails in the forest of Fontainebleau, created during the 19th century by Claude-François Denecourt. These photos are featured in the May 2020 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine.
Renowned visual artist Renate Aller selected Tomas van Houtryve’s Lines and Lineage as her Favorite Photo Book of 2019. Her endorsement can be found on PHOTO-EYE and in the excerpt below.
“In his exceptionally beautifully printed book, Lines and Lineage, Tomas van Houtryve recontextualizes and corrects the narratives and mythologies of the Far West as they had been mispresented in the American awareness for the last 150 years — and again self-servingly for the recent administration.
“He intentionally uses a 19th-century camera and wet plate process to re-tell the untold Mexican story in the way that it would have been told in the mid-19th century. Filling in this blank that Western perception consciously created, he pairs as diptychs, compelling portraits of descendants of the original Mexican inhabitants with landscapes that describe their link and connectedness to the land.”
Click here to order Lines and Lineage.
Arista Slater-Sandoval of photo-eye reviewed Tomas van Houtryve’s Lines and Lineage in the Book of the Week series. Read it here.
“The images illuminate the lives of the people who inherited this history and land. The included timeline places the conquest, colonization, and independence of Mexico opposite similar points in American history. This transforms the still landscapes into haunting memorials. Like a macabre scavenger hunt, we look for remnants of the past in the present: Does the land remember the battles that took place on its back? Do the ghosts of people killed show themselves in the whisper of the collodion ripple?”
Divided, Tomas van Houtryve’s 2018 video installation about the Mexico-U.S. border, will be on display at the Annenberg Center for Photography as part of the group exhibition WALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine from October 5 to December 29, 2019.
Since Baja and Alta, California were divided by the seizure of Mexican land by the United States military in 1848, a political boundary has jutted into the Pacific Ocean. Over the years, the border has been reinforced from a simple line to a fence to steel barrier. This single-channel video installation focuses on the timeless repetition of lines of waves as they crash perpendicular into the barrier. The collision of waves is mesmerizing, and we notice unified lines of waves that are divided in two.
About the exhibition
Complex, challenging, and immersive, WALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine is a historical look at civilization’s relationship with barriers, both real and imagined. For centuries, across diverse civilizations, walls have been central to human history. This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls – artistic, social, political, and historical – in six sections: Delineation, Defense, Deterrent, The Divine, Decoration, and The Invisible. These categories overlap and change meaning according to context, much like the walls themselves: erected for one reason, their appearance and use is then altered and modified over centuries, reflecting the civilizations that have grown and changed around them.
Featuring over 70 artists and photographers, WALLS invites guests to contemplate how these structures – from the decorative to the divine – affect the human psyche and why we keep building them.
Selected as a finalist for the 2019 Leica Oskar Barnack Award, seventeen prints of Tomas van Houtryve’s Lines and Lineage will be exhibited in Berlin with the other finalists from September 25 to October 25, 2019.
Lines and Lineage takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, Tomas van Houtryve chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. Portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired with photographs of landscapes inside the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. Lines and Lineage lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West. The work will be published as a monograph by Radius Books in Autumn 2019.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award honors “professional photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form.” It is named after Oskar Barnack, the inventor of the Leica camera, and it has been awarded since 1979. Previous winners include Martin Kollar, Guy Tillim, Andrea Hoyer, Luc Delahaye, Claudine Doury, Larry Towell, Eugene Richards and Sebastiao Salgado. Tomas’ series, Behind the Curtains, was also chosen as LOBA finalist in 2011. For the 2019 award, the members of the jury were Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Max Pinckers, Milena Carstens, Enrico Stefanelli and Steve McCurry.