Bertien van Manen


June 17 – August 14, 2021



There’s nothing more hallucinating than Moonshine and reefers on a hot, sultry summer evening out on the porch, in the silence of the mountains, with only the zoom of the bug zapper or the twang of the hillbillies’ voices rising as they grow merry.”

Bertien van Manen, 2013


Annet Gelink Gallery proudly presents Moonshine, Bertien van Manen’s (1942, NL) first solo show at the gallery. Built around Van Manen’s 2014 publication Moonshine, the show presents work taken over nearly three decades - 1985 to 2013.


While travelling to different parts of the globe, including America, China and the former Soviet Union, Bertien van Manen has documented the daily lives of her subjects from the late 1970s onwards. Van Manen immerses herself in the places and cultures she photographs, learning the language, living with the people whose lives she documents and forming lasting relationships. To blend into the scenery, Van Manen always works with a small, simple handheld camera. The resulting images display an intimacy and directness that imbue her photographs with humanity and honesty.


Initially intrigued by stories of female miners in America’s mythical rural heartland, the Appalachian Mountains, Van Manen travelled to Kentucky. Upon meeting Mavis and Junior in 1985 and documenting them in their trailer, Van Manen lived with Mavis, her husband Junior and extended family intermittently over the coming decades. Van Manen also photographed others, including ex-miner Libby. She travelled the length of the Appalachian Mountains in a pick-up truck through West Virginia, Tennessee, Pensylvania and Georgia. The resulting portraits show a raw, sincere glimpse into an oft overlooked, mocked and disadvantaged slice of American live – that of the hillbilly.


Directly participating in the lives of those she encountered, Van Manen became an invisible eye silently recording private instants of the everyday. Through her gaze, she demythologizes the allegory of ‘moonshiners’. Over the nearly thirty years of images, Van Manen follows the intergenerational changes faced by the Appalachians communities. This evolution is also mirrored in Van Manen’s approach. Typical of classic photo reportage, Van Manen initially narrates her subjects in black and white. Gradually, colour tinges her narration, revealing Van Manen’s distinct style.  


Alongside the photographs displayed in the main gallery space, a selection of vintage prints is presented in the Bakery. Smaller in scale, the overview of the vintage prints allows for a more private, contemplative viewing of her work. Overall, Moonshine presents Van Manen’s breadth – from monumental and iconic, to quiet and personal.


Annet Gelink Gallery is also pleased to announce the launch of Archive, an encompassing overview on Van Manen’s oeuvre published by Mack Publication, London. Including a retrospective view of her work, Van Manen also presents unpublished work from her archive accompanied by personal diary entries. Archive has been edited and designed by renowned Dutch designer Hans Gremmen.



Bertien van Manen (1942, Den Haag, The Netherlands) is known for her intimate, detailed portraits of life as others live it. Van Manen started out photographing her children and family in the '70s, leading to her work as a fashion photographer. After being introduced to the work of Robert Frank and having grown bored of the fashion world, Van Manen aimed her camera at different topics, developing a more raw, spontaneous and personal approach. 

Recent exhibitions include a large retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2020), as well as exhibitions at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2017), Boston Museum of Fine Arts, USA (2016), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2013), FOAM, Amsterdam (2012), Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2012) and De Hallen, Haarlem (2006) and MoMA, New York (2005). Her work is part of the collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MoMA, New York, and Maison Européenne de la Photographie Paris, Fotomuseum Wintherthur, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York amongst others.