Poetically exploring the concepts of imaginary time and deep time is something Julie van der Vaart (b. 1988, The Netherlands) brings to the forefront in her latest monograph Blind Spot. She was fascinated by time and space already since childhood as she adored visualizing the unimaginable in her head. By presenting images of the human body, caves, and waterfalls in a complex sequence, she attempts to disclose the discrepancies between imaginary time and experienced linear time. Van der Vaart found Blind Spot to be the perfect title for her publication as it’s a place where “the optic nerve connects to the retina and no light-sensitive cells are present. The brain fills in the empty space based on the information surrounding the blind spot. The title acts as a metaphor for the potential divergence – the trick of the mind – between what we see and experience, and what is real.”
Composed over six years, she used parts of her archive to compile a new body of work filled with a multitude of analogue printing techniques. Experimental silver gelatin prints are intertwined with photo etchings and silkscreen prints, they are showcased in the book on a mesmerizing matt paper that sometimes gives her landscapes a metallic feel. The majority of images have chemical splashes on top of them, infusing them with a mysterious and otherworldly quality. The photographs are abstract and metaphorically referencing each other – the caves symbolically represent a human body while the bodies echo the landscapes back. Immersed in darkness, her esoteric images are mingling between appearance and disappearance. Consequently, browsing through the pages becomes a wholesome experience as we begin to sense the patterns in the sequence, giving the impression of time as a melting entity, stretched to its maximum.
Interestingly, van der Vaart shows primarily female bodies. However, as we are still very much used to the portrayal of women where men tend to have an active role while females are the passive ones in the dominant visual culture, we do not see this trend in Blind Spot. Portrayed through a female gaze, the bodies’ forms and shapes are accentuated instead of merely serving the purpose of “to be looked at”. They become a portal to the imaginary as they allow us to project on them our thoughts and fantasies in relation to time and space and not necessarily erotics. Therefore, they adopt an eminently active role in this case.
At the end of her book, one can find a text – a compilation of reflections on time, featuring quotes from Alice in Wonderland, Stephen Hawking, Aldous Huxley, and many more, triggering our imagination. After being exposed to van der Vaart’s own universe through her experimental works, the text keeps our mind drifting away to a multiverse of thoughts far from linearity, to the blind spot of possibility.
Blind Spot is available for purchase here.
is a photographic artist and educator born in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and currently living and working in Belgium. She has a Master of Fine-arts in Photography from the Media, Arts & Design faculty in Genk, and a further Master of Research in Art and Design from Sint Lucas Antwerp. She is supported by the Mondriaan Fund, receiving the stipend for established artists, and since 2021 she has been participating in the two-year international Masterclass Reflexions 2.0.
is an independent publishing house founded by three photographers Myrto Steirou, João Linneu, and Sylvia Sacchini in 2016. Their focus lies on photobooks and educational programmes done in collaboration with both established and emerging artists. Together, they also run a series of book-making workshops called “Impromptu” through which they share their expertise and vision in the field of photobook-making with upcoming talents. Currently, the project is editorially driven by Steirou together with Linneu who is in charge of photobook design.