DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch

In The Wars, photographer Oscar van Alphen combines an adapted version of Georges Bataille’s text Madame Edwarda with images drawn from his archive. Madame Edwarda (published in 1941 under the pseudonym Pierre Angélique) is a story without beginning or end, in which a male first-person narrator and a prostitute encounter each other in Paris by night. Madame Edwarda is about lust, power, anxiety, desire and humiliation. Van Alphen uses Bataille’s text as a metaphor for the perversity of social structures, for the uncontrollability of political and economic power, and the effects these have on human dignity. He juxtaposes pictures from the decaying and almost deserted industrial regions in northern France and of the 1968 student rebellion in Paris, with the pornographic text that came into being during the first years of WW II.

The Wars is a restored version of the projection that was part of the 1984-1985 installation De Oorlogen. Combining still and moving images, set to a voice-over, it was originally projected (using 6 slide projectors and a 16mm film projector) in a space also displaying photographic prints. The 2006 restoration has digitally re-mastered the visuals, and created an English language version of the original Dutch soundtrack to create a single-screen version of the piece.

Oscar van Alphen (b. 1923) is a photographer and writer. He published his first photobook in 1958 (Kinderen in de grote stad/Children in The Big City). He worked for newspapers during the sixties, mainly focusing on street events. From 1972-1979, a highly experimental period in the visual arts and the theatre scene, he provided a weekly theatre column for the magazine Vrij Nederland. His 1978 publication Het Rijke Onvermogen (Prosperous impotence) and his 1982 book on Palestine take a strong political position. After 1980 he starts to experiment with photographs and text, both on a formal as well as an intellectual level, leading to publications as Het moment voorbij (Beyond The Moment, 1982) and De slak op het grasveld (The Snail in The Meadow, 1991). The 1984-1985 audiovisual production De Oorlogen (The Wars, in 2006 complemented by an English soundtrack) can be considered his chef d’oeuvre.

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DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch


The DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel is an educational resource which features interviews, multimedia, lectures & films in photojournalism, documentary & fine art photography.


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The DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel is an educational resource which features interviews, multimedia, lectures & films in photojournalism, documentary & fine art photography.


Browse DEVELOP Tube through the main Channel or through its catalogue of over 270 albums featuring videos, bios and links to individual photographers and organizations.

Love us? Please add DEVELOP Tube to your blogroll using DEVELOP Tube: Photography to Watch as the URL. DEVELOP Tube also features original multimedia productions which effectively incorporate the still photograph, especially those concerning humanitarian issues: human rights, environmental sustainability and global health.

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DEVELOP Photo provides resources for the enrichment of the photojournalism, fine art and documentary photography community. DEVELOP Photo is a (growing!) project of photographer Erica McDonald.

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