Jan Rosseel


In Back-up, photographer and ‘visual storyteller’ Jan Rosseel (Brussels, 1979) presents his fascination for our memory with a series of new works. On the basis of iconic images such as '9/11' or ‘napalm girl’ Kim Phuc, Jan Rosseel investigates the logic of visual media and the reliability of our memories. 

What do we remember of collective events? Can we still forget histories in this contemporary age with its immense image production? In which forms is our memory preserved for the future? And what makes an image iconic?  Jan Rosseel has been looking into these questions for 5 years now. At first as part of an artist fellowship set up by the Akademie van Kunsten and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW) which Rosseel was the first to receive, in 2015. The same questions were central to a series of Lunch For Thought discussions organised by Jan Rosseel with De Brakke Grond. During these lunch discussions, he spoke to academics, philosophers, sociologists and also children about memories and the influence the media have on these. 



For the first time in the Netherlands, the results of this research are brought together in the solo exhibition Back-up. An exceptional exhibition process, involving the artist creating new work which he then develops further over a period of a year and a half and then presents at three successive exhibitions, each one with a different focus. These exhibitions will be held in De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam (focus: media), Museum Dr. Guislain in Ghent (focus: psyche) and Stroom Den Haag (focus: politics).


Part of the themed year All Future Memories

De Brakke Grond rounds off its themed year All Future Memories (Feb 2016 thru Jan 2017) with the exhibition Back-up, in which we focus on the future of our memories. With his Lunch for Thought discussions, Jan Rosseel has woven a common thread through this themed year.



The solo-exposition of Jan Rosseel will be shown at: 

De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam - 10 Dec 2016 until 29 Jan 2017 

Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent - 4 Mar 2017 until 19 May 2017

Stroom, Den Haag: 2 Dec 2017 until 18 Feb 2018

About the image

The photo shown is from the series On the Aesthetics of Violence. In this series of images, the dominant colours of a news event have become so recognisable that a single field of colour is enough to evoke a memory of this. The colours evoke these memories involuntarily. A streak of orange immediately reminds us of the horrific beheadings by IS. In On the Aesthetics of Violence, Rosseel abstracts these intrusive news photos into coloured fields, referring to the digital media through which these images are brought to us.

About Jan Rosseel

Coming from a background as a journalist, a chef and a student of Chinese, Rosseel graduated in photography from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2013. He was awarded a number of prizes and nominations for Belgian Autumn, including the Dutch Doc Photo Award 2014. His work has been shown in FOAM Amsterdam and Photoville NY, and appeared in publications including de Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland and the Huffington Post. Rosseel has also exhibited in the RPS Gallery in Tokyo, 10b Gallery in Rome and the Antwerp photo museum FoMu.


(Portrait: Imane Elfilali)

Guest-curatorJoram Kraaijeveld
ImageJan Rosseel, 'JF 01 James Foley (2016)' and 'SH 01 Saddam Hussein (2016) from the series 'On the Aesthetics of Violence'. Courtesy: The Ravestijn Gallery
With support fromMondriaan Fund, The Art of Impact, Akademie van Kunsten and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study