Berber Theunissen is represented by Open Doors Gallery. Here she talks about her process, her reasons for shooting such personal and revealing imagery and the stories behind her most popular images…
• How and why did you get into medium format photography initially?
Before the Photo Academy I was always playing with an analogue 35mm camera. During the Academy I did almost everything digital. We had so many assignment, it was way to expensive to do everything on film. Until my graduation, i wanted to bring my work next level so I bought my Pentax 6×7. The camera I still work with.
• For some photography is escapism or a way of expressing how they see life, what does photography do for you?
I capture the situations I have little grasp of, emotional and physical. I document moments, feelings and memories in which intense emotional situations were present or revolving around me. Through photography I can look back at my life in a more objective way, like a movie.
The photos with Boy or any other self-portraits are sometimes very confronting to look at. Often they also end up in the archive before I’m able to share them. Sometimes I see glances and emotions in our eyes that I wasn’t aware of at the time of the photo.
• What emotions are you trying to evoke in people when they view your work?
Recognition. I found it important to share and to name the goings-on literally. My series Atomic Punk is about, among other things, dealing with a miscarriage. Still a subject, people are afraid to talk about it. By talking about it, people who have experienced the same don’t have to feel alone.
• Could you tell us about some of the stories or concepts behind the work you have exhibited on Open Doors?
There is work there of several projects. Some photos may fall under multiple projects…
Last summer we went from the extreme lows to the extreme highs, from miscarriage to marriage… How life works, an ever-twisting rollercoaster of happenings and emotions.
Within a few weeks there was a unexpected pregnancy, a miscarriage, a marriage and a honeymoon. Like if our life was shaken around in a cocktail shaker. At the moments when we hit rock bottom, I did not feel the need to capture everything. I was occupied with life and survival. The road trip across America was a time to contemplate the bizarre feelings and contradictions of the previous period.
We went offline, we disappeared. Alone. Completely together. While on the road, strange sofas and walls suddenly became home, leaving entrenched ideas and emotions, making room for fresh insights. We became closer and closer. We went beyond next level.
We can handle this together. We can handle everything.
Why I Left Adam
After eight years of living in Amsterdam I really started missing the woods, the quiet and the smells of the earth. On January 1st, 2015, I moved back to nature, the environment that inspires me most.
Longing to learn to embrace the skin I live in, I started photographing the skin of others. After having felt insecure and unwilling to accept who I was so often in my life, I wanted to feel connected to the flaws and the weaknesses of the girls I photographed, in the same way I experienced my own. It’s about peeling back the layers, exposing something deeply intimate and true.
One of the greatest milestones in a blooming relationship is the first trip together. When all goes well, you’re likely to find that home isn’t one particular place, but rather anywhere your love is. From squishing into tiny motel bathtubs together to wearing nothing but a fluffy hotel robe, it is the intimate in-between moments that make traveling while in love heavenly. ‘Hotel Life’ is about the beauty of love, sex and intimacy while on the road.
• What future plans do you have for your work?
2018 was all bout my pregnancy and becoming a mother, so as my photographic work. Now I am slowly making plans again for new work and to work out new ideas. My biggest dream / plan at the moment is to package my work in a book.
Contact us for more information about her work