Dílna Mikulov - Art symposium
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Machiel Botman

born: 23. 4. 1955, Amsterdam (NL); lives and works in Haarlem (NL) and San Pietro in Cariano (I)
address: Raamsingel 2, apt. 1, 2012 DS Haarlem, (NL)
e-mail: machiel55@gmail.com

Something about birds

It is a strange situation, to be asked to come for one month and stay in a place to work and to live. It means you have to show yourself. Ok, this I am used to in my work, I do not much else.

What is different is that it has to be done in a month. Normally I take years for the photographs, the text, the drawings to fall into place. It is my way and I am happy about it.

My work is not much more than showing my life. I photograph when I am touched, when something moves inside me. It is automatic and it follows intuition rather than thought. When I think and plan to photograph, try to be clever, I get nowhere – it is a handicap I have accepted.

The first day in Mikulov we were taken to the small lake at the edge of the town. This is the lake of the frogs and in this month we were there every day, sometimes three, four times. This lake is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I hope, I wish, I want that never it gets touched by anyone. No building, no smart ways to make money on it, the frogs will put a spell on anyone who tries.
That . rst day our friends celebrated a birthday of one of them. Small presents and large feelings. The little girl was oating a little above the ground, exited, exited. The light was soft in this late afternoon. So, it took not long for me to be touched and it did not take long to start photographing.

This feeling stayed and I was just moving as always, photographing, swimming, walking and meeting new people. I do not have to mention their names, they know and I am thankful to them. Because they gave me a space, in the mind and the heart, and space to work, to print, to do everything.

The last morning in the castle I was feeling sad. Sad to leave everything behind, the lake, the people, the places. As I had done every morning, always some time between 6 and 7, I had a coffee by the window. One of the castle’s little falcons, the ones that stand still in the air (we call it preying), came as usual. But this time she did something fantastic, she flew right up to my window and performed her standing-still-trick only 2 – 3 meters away from me. We looked each other in the eye and she had this soft mother-like expression: ‘you will be ok’. While she circled up to y away I photographed her, the last photograph.

Now we are months later, it is nearly november. We have all moved on and the question is always what has remained.
For me it is a feeling of gratitude. That I was able to be there and work. It is a different place from Holland and Italy where I live. Dif. cult to say what exactly is the difference. Because the warmth in the people is the same and in many ways so is the beauty of the forrests, the lake, everything. I guess the differences lie within the complicated past. Maybe I saw something in the many eyes I looked into. Maybe I should stop writing and thinking and just photograph.

Machiel Botman

Without Title
set of B&W photographs, 14 pcs 30 x 40 cm, 2007