Jan Banning

Sept. 20, 2008 – Jan. 11, 2009 Deze tentoonstelling is afgelopen
What is it that the working environment of civil servants tells us about the personalities of these servants and the country for which they work? This question brought photographer Jan Banning and publicist Will Tinnemans to travel to Bolivia, China, France, India, Jemen, Liberia, Russia and the United States in between 2003 and 2007, in order to portray civil servants while sitting behind their desks. Kunsthal Rotterdam presents the photographs taken by Banning during this tour.

The portraits provide a clear image of bureaucracy in various forms of government. This is the second time that the Kunsthal shows photography by Jan Banning after the successful exhibition ‘Bericht uit Dickson, Malawi' in 2006.

Worldwide State Power

Piles of files and meters of archives are stereotypical of bureaucracy. Every citizen, no matter where in the world, has to deal with this executive power full of laws and regulations. Everybody stands at the desk of a civil servant in order to obtain a passport, license or registration, without really seeing the immigration - or tax officer in charge. It is via this project in words and pictures called ‘Bureaucratica' that Tinnemans and Banning give an identity to civil servants worldwide and point out both the differences and the similarities between the rural clerk in Bihar, India, the sheriff in Texas, USA, and the governor in Shandong, China. 

A surprisingly compassionate view of the ways in which individuals inevitably resist all efforts to impose one single standard of behavior
The Wall Street Journal

From the point of view of the visitor and with a clear sense of symmetry Banning portrays all the civil servants in a more or less similar way. The desk, whether it is a simple table or a shiny piece of office furniture, is what separates the individual from the regulations.

Jan Banning 

Jan Banning (1954) is a conceptual documentary photographer. He has published several books, amongst which ‘Traces of war. Survivors of the Birma - and Pakanbaroerailway' and ‘Inside it is dark, outside it is light' (text by Dick Wittenberg), awarded with the VPRO Bob den Uylprijs 2008 and the Dick Scherpenzeel Fotoprijs. Banning has won several awards, amongst which a World Press Photo Award (2004), and ten awards and nominations at the Zilveren Camera.he


Alongside the exhibition a Dutch and an English publication will appear:
- Bureaucratics Nazraeli Press LLC, Portland, Oregon, USA (ISBN 1-59005-232-7), € 50,-
- Alledaagse macht. Ontdekkingsreis langs ambtelijke werelden, publisher NwA'dam, Amsterdam (ISBN 978 90 468 0488 9), € 14,95


Jan Banning, Yemen Bureau 03 - LR.jpg
Jan Banning, Boliv Bureau 13 - LR.jpg
Jan Banning, France Bureau 05.jpg