Jouk Oosterhof first came to our attention via creative duo Lernert & Sander, who she shot dressed up in discarded clothing items scrapped off the sticky floors of gay sex club dark rooms.
The Dutch photographer, who is represented by Cake film and photography in Amsterdam, Photoplay in Sydney and Multi in Milan and Paris, has been working across portrait, fashion and commercial for the past 15 years. She has been nominated for a string of notable awards including the 2015 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and, in 2016, the Dutch National Portrait Prize and the Lens Culture Portrait Awards, for which she earned the Juror’s pick for the image of her “former neighbour and muse” André.
“I often return to André, inspired by his particular kind of beauty,” Jouk tells us of her 15-year long creative partnership with her neighbour. “He is a real gentleman and a wonderful model, he trusts me and will always stay himself.”
“It was André’s facial expression that first attracted me to him," she recalls. "He is friendly yet taciturn, and his emotions can be hard to read. We were neighbours; one day he came up to my apartment to grumble about my music. While he was disturbed, his face did not convey this. This stoic exterior fascinated me, and I began photographing him, the beginning of a relationship grew slowly but solidly, resulting in him becoming my muse. It started with a fashion story for a Dutch newspaper supplement called AD magazine. My first photos of André are polaroids, sketches for this shoot. We then photographed the story on film, showcasing his hobbies and wearing designer fashion pieces that suited his style and could be mistaken for other, simpler brands.”
“When I wanted to make a personal image for my tenth anniversary as a professional photographer, it was André who inspired me,” Jouk continues. “Slowly I started to realise his importance. The following year, when I was assigned to do whatever I wanted for Playboy magazine, I knew adding him to this image of a naked woman would inspire me again. The choice of women’s clothing was made with subtleness in mind, to feel natural and relate to André’s age and character. Without cross-dressing him with an excessive feminine characterisation. No wigs or make-up, understated, simple as he is a heterosexual man who does not wear organza or blouses. Rather, I was thinking of his porcelain-like skin and the soft colours and pastel range in his house. I love the sober atmosphere in his house. It sparks my interest in lived-in and dated interiors. The ‘life experience’ adds another layer to the image.”
Jouk’s portraits of André tell of an enduring, endearing relationship between the pair. “This collection of photographs plots the evolution of a muse,” the photographer notes. “Through the ageing of us both in these 15 years and the diversity of scenarios, it shows André’s loyalty and trust, it reflects me, and it reflects a fascination with one natural man.”
“He never forces a smile or a pose. What you see is unaltered André in situations that come to my mind. Images I want to exist.”
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