World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 63 - Bruno van den Elshout

In 2012 Bruno van den Elshout (The Hague, 1979) made a photographic portrait of the North Sea Horizon. He did this for a year, every day, every hour. He did this using a fixed position: the roof of the NH Atlantic Hotel in Kijkduin. There he built with project partner Roelof de Vries an ingenious machine, complete with sprinkler system, wiper and solid-state computer. 

He called the project NEW HORIZONS. Horizon is for him tranquility and wideness. Bruno van den Elshout: “These two notions stand for me for potency, for freedom and for new, unlimited possibilities. It strikes me how much people today seek progress in growth, action, efficiency and exploitation. Literally: capitalization and exhaustion. I have the idea that hard work brought us far and a lot, but now we have arrived at a stage where new skills are required: coordination, synchronization, timing. No longer to produce something as fast as possible, but to offer exactly what is currently of value.”

Inviting Connection

His work is marked by the Inviting Connection. “I set myself the goal to connect people, ideas and worlds in a new and meaningful way. Back to a sense of unity, where everything is part of a whole. The social trend is to see everything separately so you can isolate it and control it. To extinguish a fire, so to say. But you see that this doesn’t work. Meaningful views are required.”

Bruno van den Elshout is making photographs since he was was given a public transport pass. This happened two months after the start of his study International Business in 1997 in The Hague. A few years earlier he received from his parents a compact camera as a present for his graduation from high school. At that time he photographed especially trains, rather than he attended lectures.

Us Europeans

He soon swapped the compact camera for a first SLR: an Olypus OM-1 which he borrowed from his father. Fairly soon after his studies, completed in 2001, he changed his choices of subject toward social and journalistic travel photography. “In 2007 I travelled for my project Us Europeans all year round the then 27 member states of the European Union. I  interviewed 2700 adolescents about their daily lives, 365 of them I photographed.”

“Us Europeans was followed by a photo project on highways, ‘Polder motifs’. In 2012 I photographed for a year the North Sea Horizon. In 2013 and 2014 I published all my outgoing email online.”

Bruno van den Elshout believes in Superabundance. “I think there is enough of everything for everyone. And that we have forgotten this by embracing the market economic logic as a religion. By believing that something will only get value when it is scarce. I want to be able to choose what is of value to me, not being market dependent, but letting things grow organically.”

Hendrik Willem Mesdag

Last year Museum Panaroma Mesdag presented the New Horizons project as versatile art. Panorama Mesdag was also motivated to do this because Hendrik Willem Mesdag worshiped the sea and captured the sea and sky in all its guises during thirty years.

Panorama Mesdag showed a selection of 23 works out of the immense NEW HORIZONS collection. It was complemented by a spatial representation of all 212 pages of the artwork in book form on which Van den Elshout worked in 2013 and 2014. The book was made into a limited edition of 2012 copies. It was presented in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

In spring 2015 the book was awarded a bronze medal at the election of the Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt in the Book City Leipzig. At the competition 700 books took part that were previously named Best Book. Later in the year 2015 the book was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards.



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