Simultaneous to Jan Hoek’s exhibition at Foam, Galerie Ron Mandos presents Jan Hoek’s Sweet Crazies series of 18 portrait photographs.
Last year Jan Hoek (1984) visited Ethiopia several times. The first time he visited Addis Ababa, he saw a man standing in the middle of a roundabout, looking at the sky, shouting unintelligible things at it. In both of his nostrils he had put a cigarette, he was wearing old seventies pilot glasses and his outfit consisted of many layers of ragged and worn out pieces of clothing. The man turned out to be a so-called ‘Sweet Crazy’. That is the local nickname for the many mentally ill vagabonds who live in the streets. Hoek thought it was fascinating that the people who pass for crazy people there, could easily go on the catwalk here with their outfits, self made, scraped together and shaped by time.
Back in the Netherlands the Sweet Crazies didn’t leave Hoek and so he decided to return to Addis Ababa to start a photography project. Together with his local friend Solomon he tried to befriend the Sweet Crazies and tried to take their picture. He decided not to photograph them between the rubbish, but to give them a star like setting in one of the many typical Ethiopian photo studio’s, filled with golden thrones and Roman columns. Some of them were so grateful that they overwhelmed Hoek with wet beard kisses. Other Sweet Crazies seemed to be crazier than expected so Hoek and one of the Sweet Crazies were chased out of the mall by guards with sticks. In the end, it al resulted in an intriguing series of portraits.