Dutch artist Jasper de Beijer can be considered a historian of sorts, using sculpture-based photography to inspire new ideas about the past. The underlying theme in his work is the impact that the media’s representation has on our collective understanding of history. de Beijer aims to deconstruct the media by staging historical events as 3D models, photographing them and then distorting them in his studio- the result of which looks stunningly more like drawings or illustrations than actual photographs. Each image taken is of a physical set made of drawn material and constructed bodies, environments, and ephemera.
His latest series, “The Brazilian Suitcase”, explores popular imagery in the expeditionary tales of Europeans searching for “ancient civilizations” in the Amazon rainforest. The three-part series will act as a “visual record of three different expeditions, illustrating the cause and effect of journeys of discovery over a period of 90 years.” Part 1 in the series follows a fictional tribe in the Amazon as they uncover remnants of failed expeditions and use these objects to inform their understanding of the modern world. By reframing these objects in their new environment and through the experiences of the tribe, de Beijer creates a shift in perspective as the Western explorers have now become the object of discovery.
Jasper de Beijer, “The Brazilian Suitcase”
For this series, de Beijer used real archaeological footage as inspiration to design a 3D virtual environment which was then recreated in his studio. The resulting twelve images are a collage-like mixture of materials, partly resembling real photographs while also having a surreal quality. In creating this tension between what we perceive as “real” and “fantasy,” de Beijer inspires us to entertain a new way of analyzing the environment he has created. Proving that our understanding of the world is never stagnant, de Beijer will travel to Brazil, where he hopes to “confront the reality constructed in his studio and on his computer with his experiences on location.” These travels will inform the final component of the series.
“The Brazilian Suitcase” series: