Monday, May 25, 2009

René Clement exhibit at Dordt College Campus Center Art Gallery

I think one of the highlights during this past semester, at Dordt, was the visit of guest photographer, René Clement. Many of you were able to meet with René, a New York City documentary photojournalist, when he was on Campus for Justice Matters Week in April. We have reinstalled his exhibition, which is now on display at the Campus Center Art Gallery for the month of May — it’s on display for one more week — so if you’re in Sioux Center check it out.

A couple of weeks ago, René was back in the area to document the 'old world' Dutch costumes in the Orange City Tulip Festival, for his current book project. He had just come from a three-week photo documentary project in Bolivia for a Dutch magazine. He happened to stop by Dordt, for lunch, and to view the show — he took the photo above. I believe the show is successful on various levels but most of all through the photographs we can see how René works, thinks and cares compassionately about his subjects. One viewer left this comment in the register book: “Your work breaths life into otherwise nameless faces of war — stunning!”

Copyright © 2009 René Clement

The exhibit includes selected work from his West Bank/Palestinian photo essay and his Haitian conflict essay. If you would like to see more of his work (click here).

René mentions photographer James Nachtwey, Agency VII, as an inspiration for some of his work (click here). Clement’s portrait photography and documentaries have repeatedly claimed prizes in the Dutch Silver Camera competition. In 2003 Time Magazine selected his entry among the Pictures of the Year.

A native of the Netherlands, Clement, who’s a storyteller, is the co-founder of the Foundation for Photography and is a contributor to Dutch, Italian, and New York photo agencies. He has published seven books of photography and has traveled throughout the world.

Speaking of world traveler, what do you think about Anthony Bourdain’s: No Reservations?


  1. It was a good show and a great opportunity to have him on campus. I saw his exhibit in Orange City at last year's Tulip Festival. Very crisp, brooding portraits. Loved it.

    Bourdain's No Reservations is fun, but it tends to wax on the sentimental on the lesser episodes. Every once in a while it gets repetitive, but the concept and approach to world travel and food is refreshing.

  2. Thanks, Alvin, for the comment regarding the Clement exhibition. My intention, hanging the work, was to create dramatic impact by precisely positioning the prints in clean lines to show a hyperbolic contrast to the graphic (in some cases horrific) pictorial essay.

    As for Bourdain, I think you have it — sometimes schmaltzy. But, I always look forward to seeing his shows. I thought his episode about Tokyo combined good writing and was interesting, visually, too. Bourdain's attempt at traditional Japanese flower arranging was a classic.

  3. I think his East Asia shows - Kyoto, Tokyo, Vietnam, South Korea, China - are the best. The camera work is always arresting with what he refers to as food porn (the small sushi house at the end of Kyoto, with just him and the old married couple manning the counter, was just that; I was freaking out). It's refreshing to have a travel show that doesn't highlight the touristy restaurants or general trends in some country.

    In that sense, Bourdain is as much a journalist as Sir Clement - they both document what's happening in another part of our world. The content that Clement communicates, however, demands more of an active response does it not? How does photojournalism do so AND SUB-question, how do we approach such work asthetically?


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