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Concept, photography and text:
Rob van Hoesel
NPN Printers (NL)
Touch is a moving photo story about Stijn, a young man of 23 years old. He was born blind and lives in a modest apartment somewhere in the city. This is the only place in the world where he can move so freely. The table, the kitchen and the bed aren’t obstacles for him, while being part of his territory, the objects guide him through it. He knows this space inside out. It may be small and limited, but Stijn is not. In fact it’s quite the opposite.
During the short winter days, the slow transition from twilight into total darkness in Stijn’s apartment passes him. The darker it gets, the harder it is for the photographer to find his way around. Stijn has no burden of darkness. He doesn’t need light and because of this, the photographer leaves the light for what it is. This way he feels included in the world of Stijn.
The publication Touch consists of a leporello which on one side is printed with concatenated pictures that don’t care about the size and the way of folding of the book. This makes the disorientation of both the photographer and Stijn naturally tangible. The publication shows the intimate and committed relationship of trust between the photographer and the photographed, and, in a touching way, makes the reader share the world of Stijn, and show, above all, his strength to carry on.
Peter Dekens graduated in 2012 from the documentary photography department, St. Joost, Breda. His projects fit within a larger research domain in which Dekens is aimed at making accessible socially sensitive themes such as the social consequences of blindness, suicide and the life of a family on the periphery of society. His previous two books (Un)expected, about the grieving process of suicide relatives, and Touch, a portrait of the life of a blind boy, both received international attention and appreciation. Touch was nominated for the DutchDoc-Awards and (Un)expected was, a.o., proclaimed Photobook of the Year (PHotoEspaña), awarded at The Best Dutch Book Designs 2016 and won a Silver Medal at the Best Book Designs from all over the World in Leipzig. His latest project Shaky Ground was recently shown as a preview at BredaPhoto.