Persona August, 17th 2023 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 428 - Anno van der Heide

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 428 – Anno van der Heide
In WM Gallery I saw the exhibition Keep on Rockin.’ I saw a lot of happy people, often dancing. The photos brought back the atmosphere of the fifties and the rise of rock ‘n roll. Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti was a highlight at the time. A film about his life was recently shown in the cinemas. In it, just like in the exhibition and in the photo book, many quiffs, classic cars and petticoats.
I speak with Anno van der Heide, the maker of the photos, in the cafe of hotel Krasnapolsky. In mid-June 2023, her photo book `Keep on Rockin’ was published by Lecturis. For years she followed the Dutch rock ‘n roll scene at festivals.

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Minerva Academy
Anno grew up in Drenthe, where the Dutch blues band Cuby & The Blizzards played on all stages and school parties, with Herman Brood on keys. “When I heard that, I also wanted to learn to play the piano. I loved blues, the foundation of rock ‘n roll. The energetic blues of Little Richard and Chuck Berry also taught me to appreciate Rock ‘n Roll.”
Besides being a photographer, Anno van der Heide is a visual artist, journalist and musician. Initially, photography played a supporting role for her. At the art academy of Groningen, Minerva Academy, photography was housed in the ‘Publicity’ department. In the ‘Free Department’, where Anno studied between 1969 and 1974, photography was ‘not done’. It was not until the final year of study that photography was also possible as an optional subject in the Free Department. She was the only art student of her year to choose this, which meant that she received private lessons.

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World politics
From the beginning, politics played a role in her work. In 1974 she graduated with a comic strip, a set about the plight of the strawboard workers around 1920 and with the installation ‘There is a war in his head’. The subtitle read: ‘The organ man and his dog Fikkie’.
The installation is about 2.50 meters high. A large oil painting of an old man resting on a wheelchair made from bicycle wheels. The man’s hands are sculpted, the fingers float in 3D above the keyboard of a harmonium. Next to the invalid carriage is a sculpted dog. There is a vacuum cleaner in the belly of the animal, which drives the harmonium. The spectator can thus make music together with the organ man. Bombers are painted in the organ player’s skull, flying above thatched huts: there is war in the organ player’s head. The installation contains a reference to the Vietnam War, which was current at the time.

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She considers this installation to be her first key work.
Between 1989 and 1992 she followed a second art course, Audiovisual Media in Hilversum, where she graduated in directing and scriptwriting for documentaries. This time she chose photography as a secondary subject from the first year, which became increasingly important. Screenwriting for documentaries is closely related to journalism. After making some short films for Socutera, she needed to earn money. “I reported to HP/De Tijd, for which I made interviews for years.” She later did the same for AD/Magazine. After writing and photographing a travel guide about East Africa, she ended up at the magazine Vice Versa of the development organization SNV.

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Traveling, writing and taking pictures
From that moment on she made reporting trips to Africa, as a writing journalist and photographer. She always traveled alone, staying away longer whenever possible to take independent photographs. She considers one or two African photographs to be key work. A few years before going to Africa as a journalist, she had traveled through East Africa for three months. During a journey of five days and nights on an open freight train from Mali to Senegal, she contracted severe pneumonia. During the day it was almost 50 degrees, at most 18 at night and the old train broke down all the time. She stranded in Gambia, where, according to fellow travelers, there were good doctors. Except for a single medicine man, that turned out not to be the case. By a happy coincidence, she met development workers who had antibiotics in their first aid kit. They gave her shelter in a straw hut in the compound of the Jalamang family. She stayed there for three weeks to recuperate and participate in village life. “Before I left, I wanted to take pictures in the village. To get permission for this, the village elders gathered under a shady tree for a long afternoon.”
Eventually Anno got permission, but afterwards all people were disappointed that no photos rolled out of the device, as with Polaroid cameras. “I wanted to send the photos, but the village had no mailbox. That is why I promised to bring the photos myself one day.”

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That only happened 15 years later, when she made a report with photos for HP/De Tijd in Gambia about Dutch women who are looking for a younger man. “As a thank you for the hospitality, I bought a goat for the Jalamang family. Not for slaughter, but a female goat, which could have young ones and gave milk. And of course I brought the pictures. The whole village turned out to see the pictures. Mrs. Jalamang sat on the floor surrounded by the children. from the village. She was amazed that I had come back after so long and was pleasantly surprised by the goat. I only took three pictures that day.”
She also calls these photos a key work, they tell a story. By reacting with lightning speed, she managed to capture exactly that puzzled, surprised expression on Mrs Jalamang’s face.

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Exhibitions and photo reports
Her African portraits led to a series of photo exhibitions, including in the Spaarnestad FotoArchief and the Ethnology Museums in Groningen and Nijmegen.
The extensive exhibition ‘Water, source of life’ was on display for six months in the Neeltje Jans museum, part of the Zeeland delta works. “That was very special. My photos hung in the traffic duct of the Oosterscheldekering, where the sea water splashes against the walls. While in my photos from Africa, water – and the lack of it – played a role. In between the photos, heaving waves were projected on the ceiling and on the floor.”
Anno is a typical people photographer. In Seville she made extensive photo series of the preparations for the Semana Santa, the processions in the week before Easter, and the Feria de Abril, the April festivities. “Just like with the rock ‘n roll photos, I completely immerse myself in the subject. In Spain I walked in the middle of the clouds of dust from the horses. Then the repairman had to clean my camera of the dirt.”

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Seals and a cormorant
As a visual artist she mainly makes installations and drawings. When the Hondsbossche Zeewering, the sea dike, was packed with 35 million cubic meters of sand to stop the rising sea water, she made the installation ‘Dijktourisme’ (seawall tourism). The sand movement attracted many seals and day trippers. The installation consists of a cut-out cartoon dog, rat and hedgehog. And a dirty table with chips, fish bones and abandoned wine, with a newspaper article about the rising sea level as a tablecloth. Central is a large cartoonish photo collage, with people looking at seals and vice versa. Although Anno rarely uses photoshop, this collage consists of 42 parts. She edits the photos in such a way that it is clearly visible that the image has been edited: like a large cartoon. She shows the images on her phone.
The installation Kind of Blue was on display in Museum Kranenburgh in Bergen. I see a cormorant on a lamppost, an insect trying to free itself from the dirt on the ground. Next to it is a blue dented garbage can and above it a wave with splashes. The theme of the group exhibition was: ‘The future is now’. In the catalogue, Anno writes the following comment: ‘The mood and current “state of being” of people – and the globe on which they live – are at least gloomy. And while the cormorant from its high seat heats wings with remarkable adaptability to exhaust fumes, a projectile crushes the dustbin, the polluted sea frivolously splashes its drops and the trampled insect curses.
It’s far from safe here now.’

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Rabbit Art Stories
Anno loves to combine. In much of her recent work she combines image, sound and text, often with sawn-out cartoon characters of, for example, rabbits and hedgehogs with text bubbles above them. She even created a rabbit radio play, the Rabbit Art Stories, to follow on her Instagram. Sadly, her three bunnies passed away not too long ago. In the installation Blues & News, which consists of a large stack of newspapers with a folding screen, an audio tape plays with music and poetry/spoken word. Anno wants to make an illustrated book of this – with a CD with the music and recited texts. “I also came up with the music concept and I play the piano myself. Together with young musicians from the Herman Brood Academy, I improvisedly recorded the music in a studio. Besides visual arts/photography and writing, music is my great love.”
She has now moved away from Amsterdam for more than ten years, and lives in the village of Tuitjenhorn. It is located in the head of the province of North Holland between the cabbage and bulb fields, within cycling distance of the sea. She shows a photo of a zebra and the Tuitjenhorn windmill. “That photo was not photoshopped.” All five access roads to the village now have a large sign with a picture of Anno on it, of a cabbage field and a tractor during the cabbage harvest.

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Finally, what is her philosophy?
“I combine the artistic with the content. I choose the technique that is most suitable for my subject. Photography is a great medium for capturing the zeitgeist – and reality: that is, my vision of reality. I don’t work in a studio. As soon as I want to use my imagination, I prefer to make an installation or a drawing.”
Her work often has a social component. “I like to document small communities and subcultures, such as the rock and roll scene, which I followed for a long time.”
Anno works like a real street photographer, she never lets people pose. Furthermore, she deliberately never uses a telephoto lens for her photos. She always photographs people openly and up close. “That is a matter of respect, people can also refuse. And that is why a moment of contact is always necessary.”
With the photo book Keep on Rockin, Anno van der Heide captures the relatively unknown Dutch rock ‘n roll subculture. The book is available from bookstores or from the publisher.
Size: 96 pages.
hardcover. 24x30cm.
Design: Marc Koppen.
Retail price: E 30,–
ISBN: 978 94 6226 4045
Information: Lecturis Publishers, Paul van Mameren. Phone: 0031.40. 281.45.45. Mail:
1) Rockabilly guys, 2) Keep on Rockin cover, 3) Rockabilly girls, 4) Rock ‘n Roll striped shirts, 5) Rock ‘n roll spinning, 6) Gambia Mrs. Jalamang with children from the village, 7) Guinea Bissau Independence Monument Cassaca, 8) Yemen at the khat fields, 9) Dyke tourism photo collage, 10 ) Anno at piano, photographer R de J O  (Under Construction)

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