Petra Noordkamp
In the project La Madre, photographer and filmmaker Petra Noordkamp (1967) shows her never-before exhibited work.

The impetus for La Madre was Noordkamp’s short relationship in the mid-1990s with Emilio Quaroni, son of the well-known Italian architect and urban planner Ludovico Quaroni. After her contact with Emilio deteriorated, Noordkamp discovered in 2001 that Emilio had murdered his own mother in the same year.

The violent story of Emilio and the matricide stayed with Noordkamp – for years she thought about doing something with it. The form of the project remained vague for a long time, until two paths unexpectedly converged. In 2009, Noordkamp visited Sicily for her photo project Cinecittà, and there she encountered the modernistic building La Chiesa Madre. This extraordinary, white spherical church turned out to be a design by none other than Ludovico Quaroni, Emilio’s father.

Noordkamp’s fascination for Italian modernist architecture and her short romance with Emilio came together by chance. The church, located in the town of Gibellina, which was devastated by an earthquake in 1968, provided the link to unite all involved: the ex-lover, the father who was also the architect of the church, the matricide and of course Noordkamp herself.

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Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

In the exhibition, the story slowly unfolds as small details become highlighted. Noordkamp’s first short film will be shown: La Madre. In it, the filmmaker explores the rounded forms and use of materials in this extraordinary architecture. The church provides the visual background for the drama that has played out in the Quaroni family, accompanied by a voice-over written by Maria Barnas, telling Emilio’s story. Noordkamp’s aim in this film is mainly to show how the architectural perception of a building is coloured by an event that happened fifteen years ago.

Photos that Noordkamp made of the town of Gibellina and the church are also on display. Archive material of the laying of the church’s cornerstone and design drawings of La Chiesa Madre will be exhibited as well. Noordkamp’s work is characterized by a great love of simplicity, emptiness, form and aesthetics, radiating a feeling of loneliness, alienation and melancholy.

Petra Noordkamp graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2000, with a major in photography. She has had exhibitions in places such as W139 in Amsterdam and the Gele Rijder in Arnhem; in 2005 her work was also shown on billboards in Amsterdam. Her work has been published in magazines such as The Purple Journal, Club Donny and Mister Motley. In addition to her personal projects, Noordkamp also works on assignment for publications including Volkskrant Magazine, Avenue, Rails and NRC Focus.

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Petra Noordkamp