You can hang photographs on the wall, sell them or give them away. Still, many negatives and prints remain hidden for the outside world. Tucked away in tins or shoe boxes. Because they weren’t satisfactory or you couldn’t get rid of them. “Pointless all this storage”, says photographer, filmmaker and author Jacques Meijer (Delft, 1934). His Dynamic Archive updates this hidden past.
“It’s always exciting to rearrange a black-and-white archive”, Meijer says. “To look at each image witha fresh eye and decide which one is worth showing again. You give images a second chance, one they don’t get from an editorial staff.” His DynamicArchive covers the period 1955-1965. Since 1994 he sheds a new light on that period and image by contrasting the old photo to a contemporary colourversion. The same location, a similar protagonist or a similar situation. You rediscover the photo by comparing the elements, searching for differences and similarities. You start wondering about what is in the picture. And this makes the old photo more interesting. Look closely at the box office girl on the fair from the past. With make-up and a striking dress she is selling tickets. Could she be performing herself later that night? What a difference with the man, or is it a woman, photographed on the same site in the nineties. This one looks as if the light has gone out already. Or the girl who has become a woman now, before the same mirror, but without the cheerful frills. It seems she is looking back to the girl she used to be. The past versus the present. Meijer gives spectators enough opportunity to make up their own story of the picture.
A drop-out from the academy in the Hague because he needed bread on the table, Meijer took a gamble by becoming a press photographer at 21years old. He bombarded ad agencies and photographers with phone calls and contended in photo competitions. For one of these competitions, run bythe daily newspaper De Tijd, Jacques Meijer, wielding a second-hand camera with defect focussing device, dived into the city traffic to record ‘the dailyrush and hurry’. Convinced that sharpness was not necessarily the highest ideal, he was proved right when he later pocketed the 250 guilder first prize.When the photographer, filmmaker and film critic Piet van der Ham took Meijer under his wing, his photography work developed rapidly. For the newspaperHet Vaderland he ran his own regular feature, titled ‘The Hague Today’. He also made features with text for magazines and photographed musicals, performers and ordinary people.