In 2005 photographer Hannes Wallrafen suddenly noticed that the vision in his left eye was blurry. When it did not improve he went to the optician. A diagnosis was not long in coming: Leber’s Optic Atrophy (LOA), a rare inherited disorder of the optic nerve. The prognosis, vision of a few per cent at most or virtually blind, was unfortunately confirmed.
A few years before – there was nothing wrong with his eyes at the time – Hannes Wallrafen went to Honduras. Of Time and the Tropics, the result of a collaboration with a writer and a musician, forms an imaginative and at the same time truthful portrayal of this relatively unknown Central American country.
Some ten years earlier Wallrafen went to Colombia to photograph invented scenes that captured the atmosphere of the stories by Gabriel García Márquez. Around that time Wallrafen also worked on the project Unfinished Past, in which he depicted the 1960s atmosphere of Geldrop: a small Dutch town where money was still kept in socks; a place where the annual fair was the highlight of the social calendar and the whole street came out to look at a new DAF car.
Wallrafen collected these scenes from the albums of Geldrop families. Sometimes he showed the images in their original form, but he also combined the family photos with other photos, sometimes using digital manipulation to form a new image that captured the mood of post-war reconstruction.
The sharp eye for facial expressions, body language and detail suddenly had to leave behind a trusted and familiar world. But luckily evidence still remains of what was once seen, in the form of publications and prints. To quote the famous words from The Evenings by Dutch writer Gerard van het Reve: “It is seen,” he muttered, “it has not gone unnoticed.”
More information: kahmanngallery.com
El Caballo Blanco, 2002
100 x 100 cm
Price on request