FORUM ON EUROPEAN CULTURE
An initiative by DutchCulture & De Balie

Photographer Lars van den Brink – A Happy Day in Europe

Photographer Lars van den Brink had a mission. He wanted to show that Europe was more than an economic union. Europe is a continent, filled with people who try to have a good time together.

Van den Brink decided to do something bold. With his wife and two children he took a motorhome and traveled through Europe for six months. In that time, they visited 22 countries. In A Happy Day in Europe, Van den Brink captured the weekend activities of the local communities he encountered.

In his photographs, people come together in a unique way. Van den Brink stays in one fixed spot, for hours on end. Every time he sees someone doing something interesting, he snaps a shot. At the end of the day, the photographer combines the dozens of pictures he has taken. With one strict rule: he doesn’t move the people around in the picture.

This way, the viewer is confronted with a frozen time-lapse. In overcrowded landscapes, people that were never together, are combined into a myriad of lively happenings. It recalls the town squares of medieval times, where multiple scenes take place on a single canvas. Van den Brink finds a whole new twist on this age-old style, by using modern techniques and technology.

The resulting photographs show a Europe that is united in its cultural activities. Whether that is folk music in Austria, ice-skating in Poland or a medieval festival in Norway: this is where people come together. No matter who they are or what they do during the week.

Ruins of Europe
For the Forum on European Culture, Van den Brink will make a new series of photographs in his trademark style: Ruins of Europe. This time, he will capture the living ruins of Europe. Whether it is a ruin from the early classical age or the late twentieth century, the photographer will show they are everything but obsolete. The ruins may symbolize a bygone era, but are still very much alive in the present, connecting Europeans in a new way. The works will be on show during Re:Creating Europe (1-3 June).

To see Lars van den Brink’s complete series and other works, visit his website.