Koen Suidgeest

Art with a cause

Of all the projects I have been involved in over the past 20 years of my career, Costuras is certainly one of my favorites. Taking the pictures turned out to be a magical experience, particularly because of the models’ commitment and warmth. For all of them, it was the first time they had posed semi-nude. My role, in the short time we spent together, was to make them feel comfortable and to take a photograph which somehow reflected their personality or the mood of the moment. Each time I was surprised by the mutual trust we were able to generate in just a few minutes. I loved this experience. And I was overwhelmed by the generosity they showed to a cause which, in one way or another, is present in all families.

Creating art just for art’s sake doesn’t make much sense to me. In my work – whether it’s photography or film – I aim to contribute something more than just a beautiful image or a compelling story. That’s how Costuras began, from a combination of two interests. On one hand as a tribute to all those who suffer from an illness which still carries many taboos, and on the other from my interest in pure documentary photography. This combination of art with a cause is my way of trying to give something back to the world around me. It makes me feel useful. And happy.

As is the case with many artistic projects, this one has also had its ups and downs. We would have never made it this far in the current economic climate if it were not for two reasons: firstly, because of Rosa Mercader of líniazero edicions in Barcelona, who offered to lead the project when it most needed leading. The dedication shown by Rosa and her excellent team has ensured that the exhibition became a reality. And secondly, in a very special way, because of the belief and unconditional support of our volunteer models. It was their commitment which, time and again, pushed us to carry on. For this, they have my eternal gratitude!