Frans Zwartjes – the Holy Family
Frans Zwartjes (Alkmaar, 1927) is a filmmaker, musician, violin maker, draughtsman, painter and sculptor. In the late sixties he caused a furore with his artistic black-and-white films in which heavily made-up and over-dressed actors (such as the performance artist Moniek Toebosch and Trix Kuselbos) are caught in a web of sexually loaded power games; hysteria, psychosis and cruelty are among his regular themes. Once called ‘the most important experimental filmmaker of his time’ by the American essayist Susan Sontag, his œuvre includes over fifty films.
In 1968 Zwartjes was one of the first Dutch visual artists to make use of film: initially as a record of his performances, but quite soon after as an independent medium, perfectly suited to his way of creating visual art. Zwartjes did everything himself – camera, sound, editing and even the developing in the laboratory. He would work with non-professional actors selected from his circle of friends, and filmed in and around his own house. He particularly favoured editing his film ‘in the camera’ by switching the camera on and off while shooting. ‘My own motor system determined the film style,’ Zwartjes stated in an interview. ‘It never occurred to me to wonder: can this shot follow on after this one? If you start wondering about that you should be looking for another job straight away.’ This publication consists of a selection of photographs taken by Zwartjes during his years of filming and a short footage film on DVD from 1969.