Phelim Hoey, Timo Peeters and daily life in Quito between photography and criminology

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Amsterdam-based visual artist Phelim Hoey (b. 1984, NL/IE) studied documentary photography at the School of the Arts (HKU) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Here, in his first days at art school, Hoey encountered a series of optical difficulties. These difficulties were among the early symptoms of MS, a neurological illness with which he was formally diagnosed a few months later. His practice would subsequently acquire new meaning as a possible agent of healing, offering an important creative outlet for studying his condition, as well as the potential for tracing the ever-changing relationship he experiences with his body. Fear became an important theme in his work.

Incorporating a varied range of media – whether photography, film, ceramics or sculptural installation – Hoey’s work can be read as a form of conceptual storytelling. In fragile materials, or delicate still-lives depicting precariously-balanced objects, his works are wrought with a pronounced sense of vulnerability and tension. Small traces of annotated medical documents, obscured by fragmented sketching and images, recall clinical understandings of Hoey’s condition: a distant language that rarely speaks to the nuances of his own experience. Elsewhere, Hoey deploys quasi-scientific studies of motion – referencing photographic pioneers like Eadward Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey _ underlining yet further the separation he observes between the physical body and his broader sense of ‘self’.

Timo Peeters is a criminologist and ethnographer with a predilection for Latin America. Much of his research focuses on the way people shape and give meaning to their life in contexts of violence and inequality. This year, he will receive his PhD for a study that centralizes around a group of street people and four families in Guatemala City. He also wrote a collection of poems about his fieldwork experiences in Guatemala City.

About ‘City built by fear’ – words by Phelim Hoey:

In the book ‘City built by fear: Portraits of everyday life in Quito’, criminologist Timo Peeters and photographer Phelim Hoey paint an intimate portrait of everyday life in a marginalized neighborhood and a wealthy gated community in Quito, Ecuador. In both cases, fear of crime and social inequality are leading themes. Combining a written ethnographic narrative with photographic imagery, the authors provide readers a unique lens through which to perceive the daily choices and practices of city dwellers in diverging circumstances, as well as a sense of being there themselves. The fact that the urban centers of the developing world are the fastest growing cities in the world, makes understanding everyday reality in places such as Quito all the more pressing. Both for professionals and general public, this book offers a compelling peek into the lives of a growing group of city dwellers in the world.

Time to read
2 min
Words by
Published on
24 February 2021
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