Street photography seems to be quite fashionable in some circles, judging from the heated debates about hipshooting, getting permission and using long lenses, that I occasionally find on the net. And when I look at some results of all these photographers who have overcome their fears, and proudly present their pictures, I see very little that was worth the trouble in the first place… I guess, with an urban mindset (whatever that is exactly) you can even do landscapes in street style (as the great Lee Friedlander proves), but otherwise the country boy/girl spirit will always show through in you images, most likely making them look like the day out in the big town that they probably are depicting. So the thing to ask yourself is: do I really want to confront all these people, what do I want to show… Not the pitiful homeless beggar again please. Or the living statue in front of that poster.
Tom Stappers’ work in this exhibition represents the aesthetic reflex. The photographer looks at the outside world to see what all of us others no longer see, because we are a little tired and lead our lives absorbed by our own thoughts and sorrows. He rediscovers for us the visible reality and shows us how fascinating and disturbing, how beautiful it can be. To this end he uses an adequate aestheticising imagery which owes a lot to the adventure of modern art. We experience the same urban atmosphere. I’m not surprised to hear that Stappers is also a jazz photographer. The urban atmosphere – and in a way the atmosphere of the artistic live photography of the 1950’s and 1960’s with its graffiti and “la beauté du laid” [the beauty of ugliness].
(spoken introduction at Egypt exhibition, CC Hasselt, Belgium, by Karel van Deuren (1921-2006) ©1995) translation of this quote: TS.