In Encyclopedia: Incomplete from A to Z, Charlotte Lybeer (b. Roeselare, BE, 1981) confronts her own work with photography from the Dutch National Archive’s Spaarnestad collection.
Curator Jedithja de Groot invited her to investigate the Spaarnestad collection. The Spaarnestad Collection includes documentary photography from around 1850 until the 20th century. They are photographic images that are now used by historians and the media as illustrations of historical facts or stories. The collection houses iconic images of war and other major events in history, images that belong to our collective memory. But the collection also includes personal histories of anonymous individuals, frequently recorded by unknown photographers.
Charlotte Lybeer has created a personal record of her journey of discovery through the archives, in which she uses her own work as a breeding ground. In these registrations from the past, she has identified such subjects as alienation, make-believe worlds, that which is nurtured and that which is impossible. She views the archives as a visual world in the widest sense of the term, looking at the images the way one looks at photographs in a gallery or museum: as autonomous images far removed from their original context.
Her selection includes photographs of objects or actions that were intended to improve life or make it more pleasant: steps to a better life. In Encyclopedia: Incomplete from A to Z, Lybeer brings these archival photographs together with her own work, a decidedly incomplete collection, arranged according to words that reveal only a mere glimpse of the vision of this Flemish photographer.
Charlotte Lybeer’s work can be placed somewhere between documentary photography, fine art and clinical social criticism. Intrigued by the way people react to the increasingly artificial world we live in, she reveals a utopian escape from normal, everyday life. Nothing in her photographs is staged. In what is both a removed and a direct manner, she shows us the absurdity of the illusion that we can create and control our lives. It is a closed and lonely world, captured and embraced in beauty.
Charlotte Lybeer (b.1981) studied at the KASK School of Arts in Ghent, followed a graduate programme within the HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts) system and is currently working on a doctorate at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where she also teaches. Her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions in Belgium and other countries.
The book Encyclopedia. Incomplete from A to Z, printed in an edition of 70, is available here.