Roelof Bakker

Unprocessed (published 14 July 2020) is an artist’s book responding visually to research carried out for Bakker’s article ‘A Boy’s Own Trauma: Revisiting a Photograph Recorded in a Nazi Concentration Camp First Encountered as a Child’, published in European Journal of Life Writing, Vol 9, July 2020, University of Groningen Press, Groningen, Netherlands.

In both the article and the artist’s book, Bakker engages with a George Rodger photograph, recorded at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which he first encountered as a child growing up in the Netherlands at school over forty years ago, aged thirteen.

Bakker finally develops the photograph, looking beyond it as a static object, addressing the other participants in the photographic act, connecting the photograph to a world outside its frame, towards a future unknown at the time of exposure.

In Unprocessed, black squares framed with wide white borders – subconsciously inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 painting ‘Black Square’ – symbolise a negative yet to be developed.

Brief quotes by Bakker, Rodger and Maandag document aspects of each indvidual’s personal experience in relation to the photograph. The original George Rodger photograph has been cropped, a factual caption supplying the reader with the missing visual information, including the name and identity of the boy in the photograph: Sieg Maandag, a seven-year old Dutch Jewish boy, a victim and survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Page from Unprocessed, photograph (detail) by George Rodger, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Both the EJLW article and the artist’s book propose a definitive caption to avoid the photograph being misinterpreted, which has often been the case since the photograph’s first publication on 7 May 1945 in American picture magazine, LIFE.

Read ‘A Boy’s Own Trauma: Revisiting a Photograph Recorded in a Nazi Concentration Camp First Encountered as a Child’ in European Journal of Life Writing, published 7 July 2020, https://ejlw.eu/

Unprocessed, published 14 July 2020, Negative Press London
28pp, 21cm x 21cm, stapled, cover uncoated stock 300gsm, pages uncoated stock 150gsm

The Spots That Never Went

Roelof Bakker

Roelof Bakker, The Spots That Never Went, package

£15. Ships worldwide.
Buy securely at https://negativepresslondon.bigcartel.com/product/the-spots-that-never-went

The Spots That Never Went is a personal reflection on the devastation of AIDS and the lasting impact on a generation, presented as a tabloid newspaper with a separate broadsheet print, both contained inside a clear archival polypropylene pocket with black dot sticker to exterior.

Roelof Bakker The Spots That Never Went, sample spread

The book is Highly Commended Finalist 2019 Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Publishing, presented by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, announced at the 2019 Melbourne Art Book Fair (15-17 March 2019). Sarah Bodman from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR), UWE Bristol, picked it as one of ten artists’ books of 2018. She writes, “It’s a brutally simple, heartbreaking thing – we need to read more books like this.” https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/artists-books-2018-10-of-the-best-from-irreverent-fun-to-brutal-heartbreak/

An exhibition of new work-in-progress developed responding to the publication, took place during Gay History Month February 2020 at Cambridge Artworks, Cambridge CB4 3EF. www.rbakker.com/spots

The Spots That Never Went
The Spots That Never Went, exhibition with performance at Cambridge Artspace, February 2020

The book was  included in the group show, Print: A Catalyst for Social Change, Bury Art Museum, Bury BL9 0DR (9 February-27 April 2019) and was selected for Salon 18, Photofusion’s annual members’ show at London SW9 8LA (7 December 2018 to 12 January 2019).

I remember a time when the police raided bars and clubs wearing decontamination suits and gloves.

Second edition available now. £15. Ships worldwide.

Self-published artist’s book, 28pp, tabloid newspaper (289mm x 380mm, newspaper print, 55gsm); glued-on colour print copy of Polaroid Spectra positive print (100mm x 100mm, matt photo paper, 120gsm); broadsheet newspaper, 4pp (350mm x 500mm, newspaper print 55gsm); archival crystal clear polypropylene pocket, black dot sticker, black board (A4, 300gsm).