Sybren Vanoverberghe, 2099 (Art Paper Editions, 2018)
Combinations, subtleties and an underlying sense of direction almost push the viewer or reader through Sybren Vanoverberghe’s 2099; I choose the words viewer and reader here as so much of our history is read and repeated and so much of our present is viewed.
To open this book for the first time, move through the pages, and follow the subtle lines which link the images together and guide you, is to pick up on Vanoverberghe’s questioning of our engagement with how events might evolve. There is a powerful concern with a constant evolution or shifting of events, and how we piece these events together as afterthoughts; indeed, the very nature of memory is changing the more we try to record it, but it is rare to find a photographer who can employ a genuine sense of awe to the narrative when producing such a piece of work.
As well as making considered links which tie to one another throughout the book and work, there are images in Vanoverberghe’s work which force us to look outside and consider photographers such as Minor White, and these subtle visual links again give weight to the ideas which run through this work.
The cover sets a mood with subtle tones running through it which are continued throughout in an almost melodic way, akin to a faded cine film. Once we are inside the book we are greeted by a layout which reminisces, in an appropriately deconstructive and referential manner, to the exhibited work; images are given negative space, they are displayed in a way suitable for each image, rather than a mistakenly uniform fit-to-page way. Vanoverberghe has been meticulous here to skilfully make translations from one medium to another and back again. The few deeply saturated prints punctuate, allowing us to take a breath and remind us that we are reading.
In 2099, Vanoverberghe has managed to put together a work which belies many of the joys it has to offer with a first viewing; it is a work one must go back to, take apart and consider for a longer than the present.