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Marjolein Katsma

Marjolein Katsma

I have two passions: travel and photography – and these are often combined. Though even in my own city, Amsterdam, I often have a camera with me.

With a background in art and architectural design, I've always been interested in how humans adapt their environment to suit them. First hunter-gatherer communities built shelters, to be safe during the night, or protected from the weather. From the time humans started to live in settlements constructions became more permanent and technology for how to build developed.

Thus humans started to surround themselves with walls, floors, ceilings and roofs, separated 'mine' from 'thine' with fences, and paved their roads to make it easier to move around. All of these reflect their technology, which was passed from generation to generation and developed further: in other words, all these surfaces are a reflection of culture. In addition there is the 'how we do things' aspect which is less technology but more an expression of identity, and a reflection of how communities and cultures are different from each other, even if they share technologies.

This concept of 'cultural surfaces' has become the major focus of my photography. The humans are not in the pictures - not directly - but they are 'present' by the result of how they shape their world. There is always a story...

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All sets by Marjolein Katsma (7 sets)

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    Covered (2 pictures)

    Covered is about the covers that give (or deny) access to the world below our pavings, especially in our cities, and how they are placed in, or clash with, the pavement. At the very least these covers prevent us from tripping or falling into holes.

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    India (17 pictures)

    A set of images taken in India - predominantly what I call 'cultural surfaces': the walls, floors, ceilings and roofs people surround themselves with.

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    Walls, Windows, Doors (35 pictures)

    Walls, windows and doors form a border between inside and outside, between private and public; where the walls separate, doors and windows connect these spheres. They can also form excellent surfaces for personal messages: subtle, by painting your wall a different color than your neighbor's, or more explicit with hand prints or or written messages. The messages can be from the owner, a passer-by (graffiti), or paid for (ads). Nearly every wall has a story to tell...

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    Istanbul (9 pictures)

    With such a long and rich history, Istanbul is a wonderful hunting ground for "cultural surfaces". While I was really there only for a short vacation, I could not help myself and do some "serious" photography as well. I fell in love with Istanbul, and one week was not nearly enough. I will have to return!

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    Writing on the wall (4 pictures)

    The wall as a substrate for a message - it may be graffiti, but also ads (paid for, or advertising the owner's business), hand marks and prints, and even drawings.

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    Religious Surfaces (4 pictures)

    Walls can be bearers of messages, and that includes religious messages. From symbolic hand marks and colored dots to huge depictions of deities...

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    Karakul (13 pictures)

    One of the most remote places on earth, and possibly the most remote village in Central Asia, located on the high plateau of the Pamirs in Tajikistan. This is the context for many unique Cultural Surfaces.