My project explores identity through photography. It’s a portrait of a woman afraid of getting older who begins to redefine herself as a character.
Henny is her name. She was born Hendrika Catharina Louise. She also had a ”show name”, for whenever she hosted fashion shows in her boutique. That name was Juliette, because it sounded French and she liked that. Henny lives on the 6th floor of a concrete apartment building. She lives alone with Bella, her dog – her husband passed away five years ago. She and her husband moved in because of the apartment’s ”million-dollar ocean view.” They wanted to feel free, she told me one afternoon, while smoking a cigarette in her kitchen. Henny’s late husband worked as a portrait photographer and she as a fashion stylist. After introducing me to this part of her life, Henny and I started working together, to capture a piece of her fabulous past. We slowly created a space that allowed us to explore her as a character – styling her in her old clothes and embracing her perception of herself. With Henny as stylist and me as photographer – reminiscent of the dynamic she shared with her husband, Peter – the meetings became playful explorations of their shared past.
Henny does not only perform as my model but also functions as a collaborator. Together we confront the perceived conformity and vulnerability of the older generation by capturing Henny as the brave character she is.