Interview with Map de Maar

Nuns' home, China 2007

It’s early morning, I am in my chair – barely awake. A snippet of light around the edge of the curtain hesitantly touches the floor. A line, at first thin… then a little bit wider. Slowly a part of my brain comes into motion… My arm stretches out for my phone. Light – particles of illuminated matter, peeping out of nooks and crannies – such is the stuff that makes me ‘tick’.

None of my work is documentary. The image plane is only a stage, filled with numerous ‘objets trouvés’. Multiple shades of light and darkness evoke an atmosphere of strong emotions – the transformation of ephemeral feelings into visible matter. In all my series – from the earliest interiors to the latest images of my body – I walk a thin line between the feelings of safety, vulnerability and strength.

Kitchen of Tibetan Nobusanpili Monastery. Xianceng, Sichuan, China.

From the series “Walking through Time”, Japan 2013. Pinhole photography

Why making a book

Looking at images in a book is an intimate, sensory experience. A photo book is a lasting document, that enables one to build a personal relationship with the work at hand. One can browse through a book – slowly, faster – returning to certain images time after time. An interesting, inspirational book sends you on a trip into your own imagination.

From the series “Walking through Time”, Japan 2015. Pinhole Photography.

Books that inspire me

On a lesser day I reach out to my small collection of rare Japanese art- and photo books. What attracts me in Japanese photographers is their indirect way of communicating their story. One has to guess one’s own way through the book. If there is a text, it is usually in Japanese only. Japanese book designers add to this mystical experience by printing the images on the thinnest of paper. The famous historical Japanese art of packing results in innovative ways of binding and creating complicated book covers. Finding the way to open a Japanese book can put one’s patience to the test.

Accidental Enchantments

My cahier “Accidental Enchantments” (2016-2017. Pinhole Photography) is all about remembering. Although all images seem to come out of a world that I have previously inhabited, I cannot fit them into any of the sequences I still recollect. Often it took my pinhole camera over 20 minutes to let the light build up the image on the film. By viewing these photos you look at a sequence over an extended period of time.

After my first book of Chinese interiors: “Red Roses Yellow Rain”, published by Hatje Cantz in 2011, I knew that I would want to publish my next book myself. For a long time, I had been on the look-out for books with an interesting design. Something I might use for my own publication. In the end, it was graphic designer Claudia Gravestijn, who came up with the evident solution.

Claudia Gravestijn has been following my work from the earliest beginnings. Sometimes I have the feeling she understands my images even better than I do. It was only natural that I shared with her my wish for the publication of this special project that was so very dear to me.

Claudia has designed the book with the utmost care and with attention to even the smallest detail. The image sequences, the folding process of the pages, the translucence and tactility of the paper, all together they make this cahier into a book to hold and relish as a special gift to yourself, or to a very dear friend on a special occasion.

Past Prime (2018)

I am now working on a new cahier. Its working title is “Skinless”. It is a reflection of those rawest of emotions which spark the evocative process in me. This book will comprise new work that at this moment is still in progress. To this, I will add a selection of images from my other series. In the coming year, I hope to be able to finish the photography. This could mean the book will come out two years from now.

Of course, I will work closely together with Claudia Gravestijn again, once more to produce an exceptional and rare publication.

“Reflection (Self portrait)”, 2019.

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