Monthly Archives: October 2014

Death of a friend: Will Tinnemans 1959-2014

Will Tinnemans, portret
My very dear friend and writer Will Tinnemans (1959) has passed away on October 28 while on vacation in France. A week earlier, he had a cardiac arrest and he never came out of the ensuing coma.

The son of a blue-collar worker, as a writer, he focused on immigrants and on people at the bottom of the labor market. He denounced the neoliberal system with its self-enriching managers and shareholders and showed how the Free Market has introduced what we – in the Netherlands – until recently always considered a US phenomenon: that of the working poor. In this country of 17 million people, 250,000 to 300,000 men and women have a job but cannot live on their salary. Will was a strong advocate for a fairer society with chances for all.

He was also a great companion: between the early 1980s and 2007, we travelled five continents, culminating in our common project ‘Bureaucratics’.
During the three decades of very intimate and turbulent friendship, we must have talked for thousands of hours, turning society and ourselves inside out. Will was a man of unrelenting honesty, no matter the consequences. Yes, he could be pedantic and pushy, and always had to have the last word. But more than that, he was eager, charismatic, humorous, hyperintelligent, lively, and incredibly loyal. I loved him.

The autumn cold creeps up through the earth, the leaves are falling and soon, the rains will be pooring down. The world is a sadder place.

To see and hear Will:
Boeken met Brands:
De Wereld Draait Door (from 1:29)

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Photography an international language?

NRC Olympiade v Orgaan 01

© photos: Wil van Iersel.

In spring 2004, writer Dick Wittenberg and I spent two weeks in the remote and tiny (250+ inhabitants) hamlet of Dickson in Malawi, East Africa. After our work (see here) had been published in the Dutch NRC Magazine and copies had been sent to all inhabitants of Dickson, we came back in autumn – for further work for a book and an exhibition.

One evening, while we were sitting in front our mud and thatch sleeping hut, villagers came up with one of the magazine copies. Apart from the 20 pages on Dickson, it also contained a five page reportage on the ‘World Transplant Games’ (Olympic games for people with an organ transplant) with photos by Wil van Iersel: among them one of an exhausted man and some of people with scars. Yet another one showed a swimming match: of the swimmer, we see only a bathing cap and an elbow above water. These images had stunned the Dicksonians.

You have to realize that Dickson has no tv; only one of the villagers had ever visited a city and none had ever been in a swimming pool or even seen one; and the only nearby brook, with 1 foot of water at the best of times, was not swimmable.
Obviously, they could not read the Dutch text. They pointed at the photos and asked us: “What is this?” And when we asked them: “What do you think this is”, the answer meant a sudden death of my illusions about photography as an international language.

The Dicksonians had had a long debate about these images, and they were quick sure they had finally figured it out: this was a story about a water monster (bathing cap and elbow) that had been attacking people (see the scars). And the swimming pool photo showed that there was going to be a happy ending: the monster had been been lured into a deep brook, and some of the people on the banks were about to kill it, with others looking on.

Jan Banning

NRC Olympiade v Orgaan 02 NRC Olympiade v Orgaan 04

Posted in News | Leave a comment