The Essential shows us the many ways in which our lives are unique, but also the similarities we share despite our differences. Since 2010 artists Martin and Inge Riebeek (NL) have been collecting stories from people around the world for their video art project The Essential. In three or four minutes they tell us what matters most to them in their lives.
A woman in Naples who, as a child, saw her mother killed by bullets from the mafia and who now works
in politics to combat that violence. A woman who sells coffee on the street and hopes that someday she will have enough money to go to a good dentist so she can smile at her clients and maybe find a good man. A London banker who tells how the rat race of the financial world in which he and his wife work threatens to invade their private lives. Or a man in Nairobi speaking softly about his eldest son, the apple of his eye, who fell ill when he was 25 years old and died. In many of those stories, a complete feature film seems to be hidden, but it always remains that few minutes: the moment of the first meeting. That first meeting, that is the core for Martin and Inge. You walk on the street and meet someone. He looks at you and tells you his story.
This body of work contains already more than 600 video portraits of people from 23 countries. They share their honest answers to this main question: “what is the essence of your life”. Martin and Inge still collect new stories, as they wish to give a voice to a wide variety of people. The stories show us what’s going on in the world right now, at times revealing a disturbing, yet important message.
This book is a celebration of a decade of work. It offers a selection of 225 video portraits with transcipts of the touching monologues and additional photos taken while creating The Essential.
In addition to various exhibitions and screenings Martin and Inge regularly post a new selection of videos online at www.the-essential.nl