If you were lucky enough to get a ticket for the Kunst Rai Art exhibition in the Amstelhal venue, Amsterdam at the start of April, then you could have seen Dagmar Van Weeghel’s stunning art, close up, in the Rademaker Gallery. Her photography often features non-models and aims to bring focus to the importance of African settlers in Europe – both historically and in the present day.
Dagmar started her love affair with photography three short years ago, yet her work shows a maturity, style and purpose that more experienced practitioners would struggle to match.
“My portraits not only portray the beauty of the portrait but create an homage to their collective experience, and a tribute to their strength, resilience, and perseverance”, she explains. “I desire to offer another perspective of the way people see the world, and each other, through the stories I tell visually”.
Inspired by her Zimbabwean husband and a trip to Andalusia, her latest series includes portraits that aim to remind viewers of the important contributions that Africans have made to European history.
Anyone who’s visited the Royal Alcázar of Seville will understand. Centuries of war, continuous moved the borders between North Africa and Southern Spain. As a result, each side absorbed, adopted and altered the best ideas of the opposing force – resulting in a stunning palace with a deep African influence.
“For centuries the West has often gazed at Africa looked through a lens which distorts the reality of the continent’s people and its history”, she said. “With the current surge of immigrants in the West, these preconceived notions and stereotyping often remain and are fueled by a lack of knowledge, understanding and the fear of the unknown, the fear of the other. An important part of European History which was influenced and build by Africans has been tampered with, erased or forgotten by the west in the past centuries”.
How does Africa seep into her art? In a reference to Ancient Egypt, Dagmar has constructed all of her portraits in a deliberate pyramid shape. The lighting and set up are reminiscent of the ‘Moroccan Portraits’ of the famous watercolour painter, Josep Tapiró Baró, who lived in North Africa for more than 40 years.
Dagmar’s approach leads to a collaborative form of storytelling, that combines her personal narrative with the portrayed person’s lived experiences.
“I desire to offer another perspective of the way people see the worlds, and each other, through the stories I tell visually”, she concludes.