Set Amsterdam

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In Set Amsterdam, Dana Lixenberg portrays the city in a series of landscapes and interiors. These photographs depict Amsterdam as a kind of film set, fashioned by its current and former residents. The absence of people in the images turns the viewer’s gaze to the space itself and to the myriad details which define these environments. In Set Amsterdam only traces of human activity hint at inhabitants and at lives fully lived.

Lixenberg was inspired to create these photographs after being commissioned to create actors’ portraits for the eight-part television series A’dam – E.v.a. (Amsterdam and many others). This series, written by Robert Alberdingk Thijm and directed by Norbert ter Hall, broadcast from 6 March 2011 on Dutch television, examines individual lives in the city of Amsterdam. Her work on the series eventually guided Lixenberg to locations previously inconspicuous to her, such as a former bomb shelter, a Ghanaian church, cemeteries, a morgue, Amsterdam’s garbage incinerator and other public and private spaces. Lixenberg sought environments imparting a sense of transience that bear witness to the human stamp of its former residents. She also photographed spaces still filled with life and which, through subtle attention to detail and atmosphere, evoke a way of life.

Set Amsterdam occupies a unique place in Dana Lixenberg’s oeuvre. Previously, Lixenberg’s work has been known to largely focus on people and communities, often with a marginalized history or social position, while intentionally avoiding direct references to her subjects’ lives. Her sober and direct gaze has captured the vulnerability of individual human lives. Lixenberg takes a similar approach to environments in this body of work, only absent the human presence. This is the first time Lixenberg has created a series about her native Amsterdam, where she was raised but which she left to live in New York City. This permits her, in Set Amsterdam, to survey her familiar city with new eyes.

Dana Lixenberg is a leading Dutch photographer whose work has been published in photo books and in international magazines. She has also exhibited work at major museums in the Netherlands and throughout the world.

Set Amsterdam