Blanqueños is a series of photographic works made during an artist in residence at AADK Spain, 2019. Supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

As an artist whose medium is photography and having grown up in a small village himself, Florian Braakman begun to investigate Blanca’s youth culture. By developing a personal relationship with some members of the town’s youth community and, owing to the welcoming and open attitude of this group, he was able to observe closely their day to day lives, using photography as a tool of showing this proximity to the people he engages with. The photographs taken during their shared time investigate the group’s position in the town. Through the work Florian reflects on the lives and future opportunities of the youth of Blanca, shaped by the circumstances of growing up in a small and relatively isolated place.

The photographs capture a fragile state, the coming of age, a phase of transition in which young people are building a façade with which to hide their vulnerabilities. Through the way these youngsters present themselves in the public space and within the group, a discernible male ideal is being outlined. The identification with this ideal, shaped by local and popular culture and drawing on elements of hypermasculinity and practices of beautification, is accompanied by a playful childishness still discoverable in some gestures.

In his works we can discover the contradictions inherent in a small town lifestyle: the beauty of nature and the slow pace of life surrounding the village is in conflict with the need to break out of the limitations of these somewhat isolating conditions.

Text by Hanna Szabó