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What Once Was is an imaginary portrayal of friendship and masculinity. This exhibition will be accompanied by the launch of van Dartel’s second book, following his successful debut in 2020 with This Time Tomorrow.

A vivid portrait of young adults in several European countries, carefully stylised, but still very close to Van Dartel’s sense of friendship. The series raises questions about the classical discourse of masculinity.
“I want to show a world in which we acknowledge that everything and everyone is connected to each other. I believe we should emphasise the connection to nature more. One should have the freedom to give their own meaning to those connections, however, stereotypes limit this freedom. With What Once Was I want to show that masculinity eventually is all about humanity, and that humanity is always associated with a vulnerability and dependency to nature” says Van Dartel.

“On an unremarkable evening, it must have been December 2021, nothing really happened. The next evening, nothing happened either, and so again on the evening after. Photography had always been obvious to me, intertwined with the Dutch Island of Vlieland. Though, the surroundings I always appreciated and cherished, remained indifferent to me. I had started to think that I lived through my images of that particular place – a reality that is no reality, an idea that has always been better or beyond.
From waking up to a foggy morning by a Scottish loch, to clambering down a difficult track to reach a beach near Lisbon. I particularly vividly remember time in Siena, walking through scenery that reflected an Italian cliche, but therefore a perfect place to project all my fantasies onto. I was never this productive, and the work felt fresh. It resulted in the creation of fictional portrayals, my imaginary view on friendship. A portrait of human connection and the ever changing process of composing a self.”

David van Dartel

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