Let’s sit down before we go | Bertien van Manen

Let’s sit down before we go
Bertien van Manen

104 pages | 96 colour plates
23.8 cm x 20 cm
Colour printed linen hardcover
MACK, 2012


“I have to like the people I photograph. I need to feel an attraction, a fascination.”
Bertien van Manen

Buried deep in Bertien van Manen’s images is an intimacy between photographer and subject. The viewer trespasses on the private moments in the frame, catching a glare over breakfast, unheard words between friends, both party to the action and intruding on it.

Between 1991 and 2009 van Manen travelled across Asia and Eastern Europe with a small, analogue camera, learning the local language and engaging with the people who would become the subject of this collection. Let’s sit down before we go is a portrait of the places van Manen visited and the people she met, stayed with and became friends with during her travels across Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Siberia, Tatarstan and Uzbekistan. Across nearly two decades, with the exception of big cities, little about the scenery in van Manen’s photographs has changed. The relative sameness of Russia’s appearance binds the images together, leaving us no indication of the time lapse from one photograph to another.