In 2018, for a work entitled Whatever the Weather, artist Bruno van den Elshout (1979) from The Hague took no fewer than 145 walks along the beach of The Hague within the period of one year. Each walk took a full eight-hour working day, and each was held in the company of a different person who had signed up for this unique art project.

The basic idea was to create a “genuine encounter”, paying proper time and attention to one other. At the end of a long and strenuous day’s walking, each guest took a portrait photo of themselves. Like the beach walks, the resulting extensive series of portraits is devoid of all external distractions. Each participant in the art project is placed in the same frame: frontally and at eye level, without jewellery or make-up, with bared shoulders, in the same location and with the horizon as a background. The essence of Van den Elshout’s work lies in its execution and the experience of undivided attention and time.

All 145 portraits are in fact self-portraits, which the participants made at the moment they completely relaxed their faces. Their faces show that they made themselves vulnerable that day. Here photography serves as a means to invite others to engage in a genuine encounter.

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