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Looking for Inua

Text by Jeroen Bos / FD persoonlijk


The artist duo Daan Zuijderwijk and Maaike Vergouwe have been traveling through Europe with their self-built house on wheels for over five years. They look for tranquil landscapes that Zuijderwijk photographs. But, most importantly, their wanderings are also a personal search for a different way of life, closer to and in harmony with nature.

Their project is titled Looking for Inua, in other words: a search for the divine in everything.

‘With our travels and photography, we explore different points of view and perspectives,’ says Zuijderwijk. In his previous life he traveled the world for commercial photography assignments. This is how he ended up with natural peoples in Alaska and the Amazon region. They look, or looked (because especially in Alaska, the Western lifestyle has penetrated far) differently at nature than we are used to. Nature is more inspired for them. How you look at nature is culturally determined, explains Zuijderwijk. In our case, it's heavily influenced by monotheistic religions. “We need to rethink that view of nature,” he says. “People can no longer be so central.”

 By opting for a nomadic existence, Zuijderwijk and Vergouwe show that a different relationship between man and nature is possible. “We wanted to break free from society and look for new ways to lead a fun and interesting life,” says Zuijderwijk. “We meet a lot of interesting people and come to beautiful places.”

They visited the marble quarries of Carrara in Italy and traveled to the top of Sweden, where they spent some time with a Sami reindeer herder. During the day, the family searches for suitable locations to photograph. That can be a rock or an ancient tree. After sunset, Zuijderwijk puts down his camera and opens the lens. He then performs choreography with colored light ranging from bright blue to fluorescent pink or a soft gold color. It shines bright light on some parts, while others remain darker or have a slightly different color.

It takes about eight minutes to finish shooting the photo. Sometimes you see the passing of that time in the form of a small streak of light in the dark sky; a star that has shifted slightly in the firmament.

‘The night is like an empty palette for me,’ says Zuijderwijk. “I can choose what to add or not to add with light. In this way I can create a different reality. At least, the subject doesn't change, but our perception of it does. And so the photos are a symbolic expression of what really matters to us: recalibrating our appreciation of nature.'

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