Willem Popelier
Photographer Willem Popelier (Eindhoven, 1982) accidentally found 91 photographs and two films made by two girls on a public computer. This was the start of a long-running project in which Popelier researches the role of photography on the internet and in social media.

While working on another project, Showroom, Popelier was looking for showroom computers on which visitors take pictures of themselves with the computer’s webcam. Popelier started to collect these images. Photographs of anonymous people who portray themselves in the public domain, sometimes rather obsessively.

On one particular computer Popelier found almost a hundred pictures made by two girls. The girls had produced around two hundred images in almost an hour. A large number were removed, but the girls had left some of them on purpose. One of the girls wore a necklace stating her name, which Popelier used to find both girls on websites like Hyves, Facebook and Twitter. Popelier got access to one of the girls' tweets, but also her address and even her school results. All of this he found legally, without hacking into any secret or inaccessible data. The collected material forms the exhibition Showroom Girls. 

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 is an integral part of the exhibition.

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

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

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 ____ and Willem. In 2010 his series Rejected Identities was nominated for the Dutch Doc Award in the category Innovation and Experiment. This year his series ____ and 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.

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Willem Popelier