Armando Jongejan
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Armando Jongejan BMK[1] (1960) born and lives in Egmond aan Zee – the Netherlands.

 

I studied Photography at the Photo academy in Apeldoorn and work as a freelance photographer. I also want to make ‘free work’ for my own interest. My photographic interest is landscape and documentary/contemporary photography. The way of making photographs of these subjects is completely different and therefore it is very interesting to me.
In the landscape I like silence, open landscapes and no cultural influences. When I’m making photographs as a  documentary/contemporary photographer I make contact with people, I like to make photographs of them in their own environment: their habitat. I’m curious how they live, what they do. It inspires me.

I made reportages in Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Turkey, Estonia, Spain, United States, Iceland, England, Scotland, Wales and of course in the Netherlands, even more specific: in my own village.
In my own village it is easier. I don’t have to travel, if I have a few hours time, I can make photographs and if  I don’t like the result, it is easier to make  it better.

In 1994 I decided to make 100 photo’s of the people who live in my own village Egmond. Egmond is situated about 40 km (25 m) north-west of the capital Amsterdam, along the North Sea coast. Egmond contains three different villages: Egmond aan Zee (6.000 people), Egmond aan den Hoef (2.500 people) and Egmond-Binnen (3.500 people). Al together it is still a small village on a small scale (30 km
²). I grew up in Egmond aan Zee and lived there almost my whole life. It is difficult to recognize what is interesting or not. If you are travelling abroad, everything is new. You recognize what is interesting or what makes a good picture. In your own village you have to look in a ‘new way’. I decided to work for two years at this reportage.  It was a very interesting period. I met my villagers in a new way, I made contact with them with my camera, they became curious about the results. At that time; no ‘digital pictures’, just 120 film in my Hasselblad. It was nice to meet so many different people in al kind of ways: at work, with their hobbies, at home, just daily life... That makes it even more attractive. The final result was very positive: publishing a photo book and I had several photo exhibitions, for example in the Hasselblad Image Centre in Utrecht – the Netherlands and in 2008 a part of this reportage was also exhibited in the Dutch Museum of Photography in Rotterdam – The Netherlands.

 

During this project I became (as a non religious man) interested in the monastic world. In my home village Egmond there were three monasteries; that is reducing and one has closed since I photographed it.

 

I started to make a reportage of a nunnery in Egmond aan den Hoef. The contact with the nuns was not easy. The contact was difficult. The nuns lived very isolated, almost without any contact in the ´real world´. They were almost cut off from the world. They choose to live isolated from the villagers. They lived in their ‘Karmel Nunnery’ and their own gated garden. Even their own graveyard was inside the walls of their garden. Till 1969 there were even barriers inside the nunnery. It was strongly prohibited for men to enter the building. It took one and a half  year before I was allowed to make my first photo. They were very helpful, but didn´t trust me in the way I was making my photographs. The nuns made photographs by their own and they used a simple compact camera. I made photo´s with my Hasselblad on a tripod and a 180mm lens on it. I still remember their reaction when I made my first photo of the group in a nice little lane with hawthorn trees in their garden. “Isn´t it to dark under the trees, do you have enough light”... “are you not to far a way to make a good picture”. After this photo shoot I showed them after a few weeks the results and they were very satisfied.

 



I was invited to realize an impressive documentary of the daily life in a nunnery. It starts with praying and all kind of activities in a nunnery, like cleaning, washing, eating, and have some fun when they had one hour ´spare time´ a week. I was even allowed to make some photographs of the nuns in their own cell (room). One time I was very surprised about the nuns. One of the nuns had a computer and internet (it was 1995(!). They had television, three different news papers. They were interested in everything what was happening in the world, but took (almost) no part of it.

I made this reportage of silence en quiet reflection during a period of another two years, until the nunnery was closed. The nuns became to old and moved to a house for the elderly, a nunnery at the other side of the Netherlands.

It was hard to see how nuns, women , left their own house, garden, environment after more than 40 or 50 years. I decided to make the photos of the bus tour to their new home, but not to publish them. My last photo is a situation in the church, sacred objects are wrapped properly just before the removal.

 

 

The results of two years work was published in the photo book ‘Van binnenuit’ (From the inside, 80 photos) and exhibited during the Naarden Photo Festival 2001 and in several other galleries and museums, like in Tallinn – Estonia (2005).

 

This reportage of the nunnery was the start of a second reportage of monastic life. A few years ago I made a reportage of a Benedict monastery in Egmond-Binnen, the’ St. Adelbert Monastery’. During a period of two years I made almost 1000 photographs of this community. The project was a little bit the same as the reportage of the nuns, but the results was even more impressive. When I finished this project, one of the monks died. I decided to make some pictures of the last journey of this monk and these photos will close a very special period.

 

 

The photo book with 96 photographs was published under the title ‘Een zoektocht’ (A quest). During the Epson Photo Festival 2005 the reportage was exhibited and also in FOAM: Museum of Photography Amsterdam – The Netherlands.

 

For me as a photographer it is hard to understand why nuns and monks life in such a special way and environment. But I have deeply respect for them. It is another, a spiritual and religious life. They are searching, but don’t we all in our own way?

 

All photos were made by Hasselblad and available light, with 40mm, 50mm, 80mm, 120mm and a 180mm on Kodak T-Max 400. Shutter speed in the Nunnery and Monastery was sometimes ¼ or even 4 seconds, but inside the buildings never faster than 1/30sec.

 

Since 1989 I have had several exhibitions in galleries and museums the Netherlands and in other European countries. Photos are published in magazines and books.

 

Since 1996 four photo books are published of me: ‘Egmondse dorpsportretten’ (Villagers of Egmond), ‘Van binnenuit’ (From the inside), ‘Licht uit, deur op slot’ (Switch of the light, close the door) and ‘Een zoektocht’ (A quest).

 

 

Armando Jongejan

Plantsoenstraat 3

1931 BG Egmond aan Zee

The Nethrerlands

T: 0031-72-5063437

 



[1] BMK = Bonds Meester Klasse (Fellow Dutch Photographic Society)

 
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