A recurring theme in my photography is urban public space. This space is not only defined by buildings, architecture and infrastructure, but above all by the people who inhabit this space. I am interested first of all in these people; in their use of the city; in the functioning of public space; and in the (co-)habitation in an urban landscape. Instead of focusing on standard architectural highlights or the typological clichés of public space – ‘the square’, ‘the marketplace’, ‘the park’ –, I focus on ‘people as infrastructure’. This is also the title of an essay by urbanist and sociologist AbdouMaliq Simone, who tries to shift our attention away from the typical ‘hard’ focus on urban development toward the infrastructural significance of fluid streams of people. Therefore, the human body and the movements of individuals and groups (spatial choreography) play an important role in my photographs. I pay attention to peoples’ poses, the shapes that bodies take through acts like walking, waiting and carrying. I let the movement of the city resonate in an image and turn it into a metaphor for the changeability and flexibility of these cities and their inhabitants.
During my first years as an artist I primarily did research in Europe. China followed in 2004 and since 2008 I have immersed myself in African cities.
Lard Buurman (1969 Zeist, The Netherlands), studied Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, where he graduated in 1997. In his photography the public realm has always been prominent. In the series ‘Taking Time’ (2002) he began exploring the possibilities of compiling documentary images by means of taking photographs in cities throughout Europe. By reconstructing the images from several documentary pictures from one spot, a hybrid of documentary and staged photography emerged. To him the notion of a city is defined by showing everyday life. By focussing on the narratives and lives of people that encounter each other in the public realm, he developed his own visual idiom. This project resulted in a solo exhibition at Bureau Leeuwarden in 2002. Two years later he travelled to China because he was fascinated by the speed in which urbanization had developed. In this series ‘Peoples Republic of China’, the city as a multi-layered space, a site of permanent change and incessant encounters gradually emerged. Through his experience in China he came to examine the urbanization in the second and third world more closely and his interest in African cities increased. From 2008 onwards he’s been working on capturing these African cities that are characterized by informal structures and the art of improvisation. His work did not go unnoticed and Buurman has shown his work in the Netherlands in the context of art and architectural festivals as well as on the African continent i.e. at Lagos Photo (2010 and the upcoming edition of 2014) and the Biennial Picha Recontres Lubumbashi, in Congo in 2013.