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Florian Braakman’s photography is driven by questions of home, migration and the spaces that surround him. For him, art and photography has always held the promise of learning more about the world around him and his relationship to it. He works locally, drawing inspiration from the streets of Delfshaven in Rotterdam. Since moving there in 2013, Florian has been capturing the community in the ongoing research project Delfshaven’s Finest, an ode to the economically disadvantaged but culturally vibrant neighbourhood. Delfshaven is largely made up of people with a migratory background. With his practice, Florian proposes ways of being in community with people who share a ‘home’, but perhaps not a ‘home-country’. In his series Broer (brother) he portrays local men who have addressed him as brother, evoking a brotherhood between strangers that transcends backgrounds and family ties. Likewise, in his photo-film series In Between Homes, Florian shows that the concept of neighbour stretches beyond geographical borders, as he joins his neighbours to their countries of origin.
Florian’s projects start from his practice as a photographer moving around in public space. He is present, greeting people and chatting with the owners of the numerous small businesses like butchers, bakers and coffee houses. Sometimes stopped by people with the question to portrait them and their loved ones, he aims to foster a practice which is more generous than ‘taking a picture’. The camera becomes a mediator between his subjects and him, contributing to as well as documenting a community. Florian exhibits in exhibition spaces and museums, but also distributes his work as local house-to-house newspapers, in neighbourhood centres and public space, bringing the work back to the community that generated it.
Being an economically disadvantaged and culturally diverse neighbourhood, Delfshaven is an example of a community that are harshly judged by the media. Disputing the sharp discourse on immigration, Florian’s work shows a kind of closeness between ‘strangers’, without demanding sameness. His work is intimate, often literally in close-up, and serves as a carrier for personal stories. Singular observations and details connect to bigger societal thematics of community and solidarity.
The series Broer, In Between Homes and Delfshaven’s Finest have grown into large image archives of recurring subjects like food culture, security surveillance, urban nature, games, trash, drying laundry and street culture, next to Florian’s ongoing portrayal of his neighbours. He draws new meanings from these archives by composing and re-assembling in the form of collages and installations. By playing with form, colour, and cross-references Florian reaches a complex, layered narrative that celebrates the realities of contemporary urban life.
Recent clients include Stichting Ammodo, Gemeente Rotterdam, De Volkskrant, De Standaard, De Correspondent, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdams Wijktheater, Vers Beton, College van Rijksadviseurs, Unseen Amsterdam, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Studio Room, AIR Rotterdam, and the NWO