Since beginning in 2009, Nieuwenhuize has travelled to locations where events of historical import have taken place. On the exact month, day and minute of their passing, he has aimed his camera in the sky and taken several pictures. At times, these are events that have affected us all – 9/11, of course, but also the 1989 student uprising in Tianan’men Square. Other times, they are events that hold meaning for the photographer and his countrymen – the 2004 murder of Theo van Gogh, or the 1992 plane crash in the neighborhood of Amsterdam Bijlmer.
As with IMG_, Made in China, and Zelfportretten, what Nieuwenhuize explores in the series Collected Memory is the generic quality of our experience of modern life. The even, varying tones of blue and gray that drift listlessly across these images suggest the way in which our collective knowledge via newsprint and electronic media has supplanted the richness of the first-hand encounter. The photographer shows us a parallel world above our own, abstract and detached. He reminds us of the virtual cloud into which human life has begun to shift, a place where national boundaries dissolve along with traditional indicators of identity and character.
Excerpt from The work of Johan Nieuwenhuize by Lorne Darnell, September 2013