There are many examples of social documentary, where people try to capture the essence and identity of a small group, as narrow as a family or as wide as a whole city.
The photographer we are presenting today though is a little bit more ambitious.
Poike Stomps graduated in photography at HKU Academy of Art Utrecht, in 2006, and since then he has been working as a social documentary photographer in Amsterdam, focusing on human behaviours on a large scale.
He has been travelling to 42 capital cities of Europe, capturing street intersections and the people crossing them. As he stated in many interviews, there are for sure some differences between each city, but they are not so huge. The project is indeed more related to how people behave, rather than the cities themselves, even though there are hints there for you if you feel good enough to play the game ‘Guess the European capital’.
Since the main subject of the series is the social behaviours of European inhabitants, it makes sense why Poike Stomps decided to capture crossing pathways, instead of for instance train stations.
“Train stations are not the same. I do what feels best, reflects the city and where the timing is right. At train stations, you mainly see one-way traffic (of people) not both ways, or not enough.”
Crossing the USA
If in ‘Crossing Europe’ the attention sticks to the crowd, to that very moment everybody shares in their daily life, the journey Poike has been going along in the USA is far deeper and even more ambitious. The aim is to document the daily life of Americans in their country, and also what they think and how they react to the situation they are living in.
Quoting the author, ‘with Trump as President, this topic is more relevant than ever.’
This is one of those projects where photography ends up being just a medium, a tool used to talk about something bigger and wider; we believe it is right to say Poike Stomps is slowly mapping the world.
Have you ever thought about re-doing the same project (let’s say) in ten years? You have been mapping societies on a large scale, space wise, why not extend your research and studies to the ‘time dimension’ as well? How are we all going to cross the streets in ten years? Do you think it will be any different? If so, how?
I consider it pretty often and perhaps one day I’ll do that. ( but then most likely with a bigger time frame, 10 years is short, maybe 20 or 25 years, and then in 50 years again?) Every time I’m in a new city or a city I have already take a picture on a crossing it’s tempting to stand still watch and if I have my camera with me I have to try it again( although I do not always carry my flash with me).
Now I like to focus more on other area’s like the USA but also in the Netherlands. Perhaps in the next year, I’ll cover all the 12 capital cities of all Dutch provinces. But there are many more projects in my sleeve.
I’ll keep you posted!