Hans Bol Statement
Of vital importance in my work have been my experiences in the stone quarries in and around Carrara (Italy). The photographs I made there, between 1985 and 2011, should be seen as a metaphor for the way human beings deal with their environment. I visited that part of the Apennines for years on end; although the process that takes place there is one of destruction, I developed a love-hate relationship with the area. Since the process itself is irreversible, the mountains cut into pieces beyond repair and thus the environment damaged forever, one should strongly condemn. However, in this process of destruction I also found a lot of intimacy, beauty, gentleness and history. In the activities that take place around these quarries there definitely is a quality of life that I have seldom found again on my travels. Simultaneously, I developed from a 35mm photographer into a large-format photographer.
So, there I found myself with both the negative and the positive combined in one location. It taught me that one doesn’t come without the other.
In my portfolio ‘Het Formaat van Waterland’ (translated as ‘Waterland Images’), instead of going to sites of destruction, I focused mainly on the direct surroundings of my home in which the presence of water is ubiquitous and beauty is omnipresent. The region is classified as ‘protected area’. It is considered of importance because of the relatively untouched landscape and its wildlife.
As a result, in this series, I’m showing landscapes that have more or less been left in peace and have been respected - a phenomenon seldom seen in the Dutch context with regards to landscape. The Dutch concept of landscape and nature is that it can be planned, designed and subsequently ‘constructed’.
Since I finished this portfolio in 2002 one of the new plans is to overflow the entire area in order to make it a basin for the river that floats through it.
As a result, both people and animals would have to leave their homes; the landscapes presented in this portfolio would be destroyed. So, again, beauty and destruction seem to be closely connected.
Therefore, my main concern in photography is twofold: as an artist I try to develop and fine-tune my medium, but simultaneously, as a responsible citizen, I actively try to use my medium and reflect and comment on the things that take place in the world around me.
All negatives in the 'Waterland Images' portfolio were made with an 8x20” view camera on Ilford HP5+ and have been hand-developed in pyro. All silver-gelatin contact prints thus measure 8 x 20” and have been printed by myself.
Of 7 images platinum-palladium prints are available. These prints measure 10.5 x 27.5” and are thus bigger than the original silver-gelatin contact print. In order to make the platinum-palladium prints, the original 8x20” contact prints have been scanned and enlarged digitally. Thus, 3 new negatives have been made: one for the shadows, one for the midtones and one for the highlights. From those the final platinum-palladium prints have been made. As a result, these prints are exquisite in tonal scale.
For Paradise City a number of different formats have been used. Initially, I worked in 35mm, but soon I realized larger formats were necessary: 4x5", 8x10", 6x17cm and finally 8x20".
Photographers who have had influence on my seeing are Josef Sudek, Minor White, Art Sinsabaugh, Josef Koudelka, Lewis Baltz and Michael A. Smith.