Jan Rosseel first artist-in-residence at NIAS

16 April 2015

Belgian photographer Jan Rosseel (born 1979) has been selected as the first artist-in-residence, a fellowship established by the Society of Arts and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW). Rosseel will explore memory and the transience of collective and personal recollections. 


180 Foto Jan Rosseel

Jan Rosseel describes his work as visual storytelling. ‘I use photography, archive material, video and objects to build a narrative in which fact and fiction co-exist. I often start with an historical event and make an in-depth study of how we remember that event collectively, what we forget, and how reliable memory is.’

For example, for his project Belgian Autumn, A Confabulated History, he studied ‘The Gang of Nivelles’, a criminal group that carried out a series of violent armed robberies in 1980s (and was never apprehended). Rosseel’s father was one of the gang’s victims. His project Litho Belgica also takes an historical event as its starting point. It is a visual interpretation of Stefan Hertmans’ novel Oorlog en terpentijn [War and Turpentine], which recounts his grandfather’s experiences during the First World War.

During his fellowship, Rosseel intends to investigate the role of photography in reconstructing the past, based on events such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, the rise of IS and PEGIDA (the German far-right anti-Islam organisation), the 1975 hijacking of a Dutch train by Moluccan terrorists, and the Armenian genocide.

For six months, Rosseel will be part of NIAS’ international academic community, consisting of researchers and writers working in a variety of disciplines whose daily interaction leads to new (and unexpected) insights. ‘The synergy between art and science allows me to keep asking new questions,’ says Rosseel. ‘Collaboration offers kaleidoscopic insight.’

From: Litho Belgica (www.janrosseel.com)
Belgian autumn
Belgian autumn
From: Belgian autumn. A confabulated history (www.janrosseel.com)

About Jan Rosseel

Rosseel studied photojournalism at the Danish School of Media and Journalism and documentary photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, The Netherlands. He also studied Chinese in Leiden and China. He has received various prizes and nominations for Belgian Autumn, including the Dutch Doc Photo Award 2014. His work has been exhibited at FOAM (Amsterdam) and Photoville NY (Brooklyn NYC). It has also been published in Huffington Post, the Dutch daily de Volkskrant, and the weekly magazine Vrij Nederland. In June 2015, Rosseel will be showing his work at the RPS Gallery in Tokyo, the 10b Gallery in Rome, and the FoMu (Museum of Photography) in Antwerp.

About the artist-in-residence fellowship

The artist-in-residence fellowship will be awarded twice to projects that make a specific contribution to promoting cross-fertilisation between art and science.

The fellowship was established by the Society of Arts and the NIAS.