A woman sits on the edge of a bed behind a clumsily attached white curtain with an openwork design and a frilly hem. The center of the photograph is formed by her two bare legs and a hand fastening a sandal. On the right, on the rear wall, are shelves of books and plastic bags; on the left, a metal ladder connects the two levels of the bunk bed; on the floor beneath the bed are various pairs of footwear. In spite of the clutter, the elegantly bent legs lend the picture an unmistakably erotic touch – although the choreography of the situation appears to be a result of the lack of space, rather than a deliberate attempt at seduction. This photograph is part of Oostenwind, Westenwind, Van Manen’s remarkable project about young people in China. As in her earlier work about the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the photographer demonstrates her ability to create very intimate images of a complex and closed culture with the help of a simple 35-mm camera and the benefit of repeated visits to the country in question.
© Bertien van Manen, Amsterdam

Makers

Collection

Photos

Production date

1998

Library

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Dimensions

106 x 71.9 x 3.3cm.

Material

chromogenic c-print on paper, mounted on aluminium

Object number

2003.4.0651(1-9)6