contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / February 2024

The Home we lost
Tamara Stoffers

Analogue black-and-white photography
30 cm x 24 cm
Edition of 5 + AP

Tamara Stoffers’ black-and-white photo “The Home we lost” is part of her series with the same name. It shows a young woman in a vintage dress from the 1940s in front of an apartment building. She holds a suitcase in front of her, presumably of the same period as the gown. Beside her, there stands an ancient typewriter on the pavement. Due to the monochrome pic, the outfit and the accessories, one might think of an ancient photography from the time during or after World War II. However, the architecture indicates a later period. Built in 1983, it has the typical style for social or student housing in the Netherlands of this era. Not considering the title, one might think that the building is not finished yet and the young women is waiting to move in. Though, the holes in the façade and the title reveal that the opposite is the case.

In the pictures of the series, Tamara often portraits herself as the protagonist, like in the present image. Her serious gaze with the narrowed eyes conveys scepticism, uncertainty and hesitation. Her posture, with the closed legs and the barrier like suitcase in front of them underline this impression. At present, she is not ready to go and perhaps, she even doesn’t know where to go. The typewriter beside her as an immovable object intensifies this standstill. Altogether, the picture expresses her emotion considering the situation.

Tamara documented and digested her obliged leave and the following deconstruction of the edifice in the background. Awaiting an investor for a restructuration of the street, the apartments were rented out cheaply. In the interim, a great feeling of community developed between the inhabitants. For many of them, it was the first time to have an independent living space on their own. For Tamara this experience lasted for two years. Then the eviction notice came. Besides the uncertainty of finding a new home considering the housing crisis and the thereof resulting expensive rents, the loss of security and belonging affected the inhabitants including the artist. Therefore, she started the photo series where she shows the days of the departure and the advancing demolition of the apartment building.

Even though it is a very personal approach, the feeling of loss, uncertainty and insecurity is common to many people, which have to abandon their homes for one or the other reason. The choice of a vintage dress, ancient accessories and the grainy analogue black and white technique, could refer to the time around World War II. Due to the military operations people were forced to flee, often without return. Additionally, in Germany and the occupied countries like the Netherlands, Jews were deported or forced to take flight. The memory of the homes they lost, is partly transported via photography, but more often by narration to the following generations.

Ever since, people in various countries and continents had to leave their homes for diverse reasons. Even today, economic problems, military conflicts, increasingly environmental degradation due to the climate crisis or, like in Tamara’s case gentrification force populations to abandon their domiciles, towns or even their regions. This means not only to lose a built structure, but also a familiar area, an intimate communion and a close culture. Most of them are looking into an unknown future. Therefore, “The Home we lost” expresses not only a personal statement, but a sentiment, which many people have in common.


Tamara Stoffers

Born in 1996 in Zwolle, Netherlands, Tamara Stoffers studied fine art at the Academy Minerva in Groningen, Netherlands. Additionally, she frequented courses at the Klassieke Academie. Since her graduation in 2017, she participated in several group exhibitions in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but also abroad in Brussels (Belgium), London (England) and Stockholm (Sweden). Her first solo exhibition “The New Past” was at The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow in 2019.

The exhibition consisted of collages composed of photos found in old books about the Soviet Union. The oeuvres are grouped in series named after the publishing year of the initial book. One of them is our artwork of the month April 2019 “Voronezh”. Tamara’s creative process is strictly analogue in its basis. She literally cuts the single elements out of their context and composes them to a new oeuvre. Only afterwards, she scans the completed collage to print it in different sizes and limited editions.

Even though born after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Tamara is fascinated by this disappeared culture, with its typical visual language. At the age of 18, she started to collect objects connected to the era of the USSR. Later, in 2015/16, she visited the exhibition “Soviet Design 1950 – 1980” in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Here she saw furniture, textiles, domestic appliances and utensils, toys, posters and extensive archive material. Inspired by the atmosphere and shapes of the objects, she started to incorporate it into her artistic practice. Examples are the above-mentioned collages, where she playfully creates new, often surrealistic situations. In doing so, she approaches a for her incomprehensible past, which becomes more accessible to her by this process. Other rapprochements are sculptural cachepots in form of a Lenin bust. In 2021, she approached social realism also in painting. Her “Pickle Factory”, which she announced as a seemingly accurate Soviet painting of Socialist Realism from the 1960s is our artwork of the month in December 2021.

Besides new compositions from existing photographs, Tamara dabbles in analogue photography. For example, she documented and digested her obliged leave and the following deconstruction of the apartment building where she used to live for two years. One of the pictures of the resulting series “The Home we lost” is our artwork of the month February 2024.

Currently, two solo exhibitions are scheduled for 2024: from February 9th until February 22nd “Kompromat” is on view in the Langhuis in Zwolle, Netherlands and “The street is our palette” will start on the 8th of March in the Museum Erarta, Saint-Petersburg, Russia. Moreover, her works are presented in the photo book “Fresh Eyes” in this years’ edition in the category conceptual.

Tamara lives and works in Deventer, Netherlands.