Assignment 1 – Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse

Teeuwisse was born in the Hague, a city in the Netherlands in 1972. From a young age she was always fascinated by history, and she found that her childhood home was surround by little momentums from past residents which always allowed her to envision what life was like back in the day. History was a huge passion of hers, and no matter where she took herself such as school and even Film Academy, history would always be apart of her life. It was actually a short movie about a German soldier left behind in a Dutch town after the liberation that guaranteed her graduation. However as she began to investigate further into the film and TV industry she realised that she could not produce something which contained no history. This was when she decided to contribute to museums, schools as well as TV companies to bring truth, authenticity and to guarantee historic correctness to their companies. Her passion for history, specifically the 1930’s and 1940’s, became so overwhelming that she actually decided to adapt to the vintage lifestyle.


In 2004, she started a project called ‘Ghosts of History’ in which she found old negatives at a flea market in Amsterdam. She found them intriguing so as she began to try and find more information regarding these founded negatives she began to merge them together with modern day photographs at the same location. As she began to produce more and more photographs, her work suddenly went viral, as it began to spread across 100’s of pages online and then to the papers. Her facebook page shot up to 20,000 likes allowing her creative new imagery to go viral worldwide.

Most of her work consists of war time photographs combining with modern day imagery of that specific location. Here are some of her images below:


You can see from this image, that combining such an old photograph with a modern version, clearly gives that historic feel that is such a big part of her life. Softening the edges allows it to softly merge into the scene that is so different from then. She wants to create that ‘ghostly’ feel which allows the viewer to see that it is now a faded memory of our past, but yet it still lingers and remains a part of our history and that they always will be.


I would not say that her goal is precision when taking the modern day photograph. Her goal is clear, her goal is to show the historic value that these past images contain, and she wants to show this to the rest of the world. You can also see that she continues to not be severely precise when in the editing process. The bench against the tank has that grey glow surrounding it where she has erased a part of the old photograph. One key element in this photograph, which she has been very precise on is the sign in the center of the frame. You can clearly see that she has not used the eraser tool, but more likely the lasso tool to get precision and a sharper cut. I feel this is the part of the image that she feels other viewers should look at first, the sign reads ‘ KEEP OUT! Beyond this point you draw fire on our FIGHTING MEN, HE RISKS HIS LIFE 24 HOURS A DAY, DO YOU?’ It make you realise that no matter where we are, where we stand, where we look, history surrounds us all, but some of us tend to forget about the past.


Even though I do not feel this is one of her strongest images, I feel it symbolises something extremely important, that even though we have people fight for our countries, they will never be forgotten. They will live on as a legacy in that they bravely risked their lives to defend their country. Even though their bodies may fade their memory will continue to live on. These negatives that were just sitting in a flea market may have been thrown to the side but Teeuwisse has now resurfaced their ever lasting memories.


I feel like a lot of her photographs work better when there is some form of colour that pops out of the image because it does not just show the history of the location but also how the digital era has revolutionised photograph. Teeuwisse talks about the low quality of the original photographs ‘I have to work with original images that are old, not perfectly sharp, sometimes have very low resolution and are small. It is hard to predict how the end result will look like and in some cases they can only be printed in small sizes.’ I found this related to what I am going to be attempting as I am having to use old photographs that are extremely low quality as well as them being rather small, so it will be interesting what happens when I begin to merge my two photographs together.


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