Out of Place - PhMuseum

Out of Place

Bas Losekoot

2011 - 2019

The metropolis life is the modern version of the fight of the primitive man against nature. Where we normally had to run for our lives we now have to run for our jobs. We are not running for life-threatening danger but danger for exclusion. The struggle for survival remains the same.

In 2011, I started a photographic project based on the rise of the Urban Millennium. My aim was to capture the consequences of population density on the behaviour of city dwellers. It was in the streets of downtown Manhattan where I created a methodology for use in other cities. By the end of 2018, I had photographed in New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Mumbai, Hong Kong, London, Lagos, Istanbul and Mexico City. In each of those cities I worked for at least one month – walking the streets every day from sunrise till sunset.

"Out of Place is a photographic essay that provides insight in the psychological journey of commuters in modern megacities. At the rise of the "Urban Millennium" Bas Losekoot embarked on a visual exploration, considering how population density affects human behaviour. While placing his camera in the liminal spaces of the city, he addresses the state of in-between-ness of the modern urban experience. With an intuitive eye, he observes the "presentation of self" and "micro-second meetings" of everyday urban encounters. By adding drama to the trivial, Losekoot is painting the theatre of the real life, where small gestures become theatrical events."

January 2021 a book was published that includes photography from the cities of New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Mumbai, Hong Kong, London, Lagos, Istanbul, and Mexico City. Renowned photobook designer Teun van der Heijden translated the project into an extraordinary book. The design emphasises the cinematic quality of the photographic series. It is structured with different page formats and positions, that mimics the stratification of life in modern megacities.

This might not be the perfect timing to publish a book, however I find that there is more attention and appreciation for art books at the moment. I also believe that the project subject matter is more relevant than ever. During a lockdown, the city is suddenly no longer an attractive living environment. This crisis makes us rethink the city; considering new demographic possibilities.

The questions that were at the core of my research are now very actual, for example: Does large-scale urbanisation and high population density, provide a basis for human well-being? And how do we define personal space, in the new one-and-a-half-meter society?

Streets are not places of engagement anymore and people seem even more alienated from each other and their environment. Passing a stranger in the street has become an awkward choreography. In many cities around the world, it seems that city life has brought to a halt; suddenly the so called "progress" is set to pause-mode. I believe that my project, with the use of flashlights in combination with fast shutter speeds, emphasize this frozen movement very well.

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