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Frames Revisited - Masterpieces of Dutch portrait photography shown in antique frames from the Collection Frits Lugt

  • This catalogue has been published at the occasion of the travelling exhibition shown in Paris in 2005 (titled Frames Revisited / Cadres revisités) and in Haarlem in 2006 (titled Portaal naar de hemel)
  • Concept and realisation: Willem van Zoetendaal
  • Photography of the frames: Jasper Wiedeman
  • Photographers' biographies: Anouk Laverge
  • Graphic design: Wigger Bierma
  • Published by Fondation Custodia in 2005
  • No ISBN found

Hellen van Meene's photo is plate A. Her biography is on p. 41.

Hellen van Meene's biography by Anouk Laverge (p. 41)

Hellen van Meene
Alkmaar, 1972.
Lives and works in Alkmaar

The girl in the portrait titled St. Petersburg [1] (2004) by Hellen van Meene is hardly more than a child, unaware of the hint of adulthood that is already perceptible under the surface.
Nearly all Van Meene's subjects are pubescent girls in whom the innocence of childhood prevails. Sometimes there is a touch of sensual femininity in their pose or gaze. Above all, the photographs reveal the sitters' insecurity about their own identity. Their air of vulnerability is intensified by the strange dresses and shifts they have been given to wear. They are at once gauche and sensual, vulnerable and proud, and all radiate a sense of loneliness and longing.
In keeping with the experimental phase her models are going through, Van Meene gives them all sorts of roles to play. The young girls she portrays are still in the dark as far as their own limits and possibilities are concerned.
Shooting sessions are conducted according to a detailed regime. Backgrounds, poses, fabrics, colours and lighting are all carefully staged. She frequently opts for what is known in cinematography as a 'medium shot', which enables her to incorporate the decor in the image while retaining the impression of proximity.
For her early work Van Meene picked models in her immediate surroundings. In 2000 she traveled to Japan, spending time in Tokyo, Atami, Osaka and Kyoto, where she approached girls in public places and then photographed them in their homes. Since then Van Meene has traveled each year. A recent series was shot in Estonia[2].

[1] Not "St. Petersburg": like all her photos its title is "Untitled".
[2] Not "Estonia": it was in Latvia and Russia.