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Willem Popelier - Showroom Girls

Press release | Amsterdam, 31 May, 2011

Foam 3h: Willem Popelier - Showroom Girls
1 July until 31 August 2011

Photographer Willem Popelier (Eindhoven, 1982) found by accident 91 photographs and two films made by two girls on a publicly accessible computer. This was the start of a long-running project in which Popelier researched the role of photography on the internet and in social media. The result is the exhibition,  Showroom Girls, an intimate portrait of one of the girls in the form of pictures and texts  by her hand that Popelier found online.

Webcam
Whilst working on another project, 'Showroom',  Popelier was looking for showroom computers which visitors use to take pictures of themselves by using the computer's webcam. He discovered that people leave these pictures on the computer in the shop. Popelier started to collect these images. Photographs of anonymous people who portray themselves in the public domain and upon occasion rather obsessively.

On one particular computer Popelier found almost a hundred pictures made by two girls. After more research he discovered that the girls had produced around two hundred images in almost an hour. A large number of these shots were removed, but the girls had left a number on purpose. One of the girls wore a necklace stating her name. Popelier started to look for her on the internet and found both girls on various websites such as Hyves, Facebook and Twitter. Via the internet Popelier got access to the tweets of one of the girls, but also managed to find her address and even her school results. And all of this he found legally, without hacking into any secret or inaccessible data. With all the collected material he put together the exhibition Showroom Girls.

Ethically responsible?
The exhibition in Foam questions this topical issue: what does an internet user show of him- or herself to the world, and is this a good or a bad thing? To what extent can an artist use and re-use this information, and where are the ethical and legal boundaries? This debate will be part of the exhibition. Stine Jensen, a philosopher, will write a column in the booklet accompanying the exhibition. Before the exhibition starts, the photographer and the curator of Foam will write a blog about the dilemmas they faced whilst preparing this project.

Bio
Willem Popelier graduated in photography at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts (KABK) in The Hague in 2008. He then took an MA in photography at the AKV St. Joost Academy in Breda, which he completed in 2010. His work has been exhibited in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Luik, Modena and New York, and has been published in NRC Weekblad and Foam Magazine. In 2008 he won the the public's choice award of the Steenbergen Stipendium with his graduation project '....en Willem'. In 2010 his series 'Rejected Identities' was nominated for the Dutch Doc Award in the category Innovation and Experiment. This year his series '...en Willem'  has been selected for the Best Designed Books 2010, and has won a bronze medal at the Schönste Bücher Aus Aller Welt in Leipzig. The series has also been nominated for the Dutch Doc Award 2011.

The exhibition has been made possible by the Van Bijlevelt Stichting and &samhoud and Fonds BKVB.

Showroom Girls by Willem Popelier can be seen from 1 July 2011 to 31 August 2011 at Foam. Open daily 10 am - 6 pm , Thurs/Fri 10 am - 9 pm. Tickets: € 8,00

Note to editors: For information and visual material please contact the communications department, e-mail foaml[at]foam.org or phone +31 (0)20 5516500.

Foam is sponsored by the BankGiro Loterij, the VandenEnde Foundation and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.


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