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Dana Lixenberg: Through Dutch eyes by Houwen, Pieter van der

Through Dutch Eyes is a film about the work of the world-famous Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg who is living in New York. In Thru Dutch eyes we follow Lixenberg while she's making a series of photographs about homeless women in Louisville Kentucky. We also follow her while she revisits the Watts ghetto in Los Angelos where she made a series that established her name as a photographer. This film witnesses the intimate moments between Dana Lixenberg and the people she works with.

About Dana Lixenberg
Technically, Lixenbergs work looks simple, as all of her subject look very much at ease an natural. Yet, she works with a 4 x 5 inch technical camera. The power of her work arises in the intimacy and the absence of social stereotyping. Lixenberg is also famous for her portrays of celebrities, like Donald Trump, John McEnroe, Iggy Pop, Whitney Houston, Kathleen Turner or Sean Penn. These portrays shows us the individual, the focus on the posture and facial expression, instead of the showiness of the famous stars. Her portraits have broken through the well-tended exteriors. In an interview once she said she had no 'idols' when she was a child. Because of this absence of feelings like jealousy or adoration for the 'famous' one, she is able to portrait them in an honest and introspective way.

Human Interest
Decisive in the career of Lixenberg was a series of pictures she made in 1993 of the inhabitants of Watts, a ghetto in Los Angeles, well known because of it's militant gangs. Lixenberg succeeded to portray the inhabitants completely separated from the gang-culture. This in contrast with all the other media, who were ignoring humanity in the ghetto and emphasised the aggressive gang-culture. In the film Lixenberg visits the portrayed inhabitants in Watts to confront them with the pictures.

Dana about the Film
DocsOnline interviewed Dana Lixenberg about the documentary Thru Dutch eyes. We asked for her opinion about the making of and the result of this film. At first I was a bit scary about filming. Wouldn't it disturb my process of photographing, the contact I have with the people I'm working with? But after a couple of days filming I was more and more enthusiastic. Especially about the camerawork of Melle van Essen. I had this feeling he understood my process, my choices. He has this eye for the subtle moments and is very interested and involved in the subject. Fascinating. In the beginning he shows you the nervousness of the women, restless. After a while you see a process of concentration and silence. That's exactly what I'm looking for in my work, or the way I'm photographing. I see this documentary as a complementation. Sometimes you can't say it all with photos, Thru Dutch Eyes gives you the whole story.

Houwen, Pieter van der
Copyright Holder
Frank van den Engel
50 min.
Year of release

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