Book Review: Paul D’Haese’s “Dagblind”

Our next book review is for Paul D’Haese’s Dagblind, published by Éditions Yellow Now.

D’Haese’s Dagblind is a sleek and polished hardcover text of over 20 evocative black and white photographs. Taken over the course of 10 years, this collection of work investigates themes of isolation and disconnect by documenting various deserted urban and interior landscapes. Photographed around the artist’s homeland in France and Belgium, each image in the sequence of D’Haese’s book takes a viewer on a walk through an alienated world void of human presence. Consequently, each documented location feels eerily familiar, while distant and untouched. A viewer begins to question what may be hidden behind closed curtains or around dimly lit, concrete corners. These places seem to function as landmarks where actions may have taken place years ago, only to be revisited by the photographer himself. D’Haese explains he “found” each of the locations he photographed and would take “several visits to the same places” in order to discover new circumstances.

Portraits of subjects shutting their eyes, avoiding eye contact from their surroundings, break D’Haese’s continuous documentation of space, and support a visual separation between people and place. While making portraits, D’Haese explains he was “thinking about communication” and the ways in which we may see or avert away from our environment. This body of work focuses on this diverging relationship and the disconnect between humans and the places they inhabit.

By photographing solely in black and white, D’Haese focuses on the minimal and architectural nuances of photography. His sleek compositions exhibit structure and form, while helping to construct an alternative world. The design of D’Haese’s book is clean and minimal, reflecting the style portrayed in his photographs. The book’s cover reveals a title that is nearly invisible and can only be seen when reflected in a certain light. This small detail evokes similar feelings expressed in his photographs–places that would generally go unseen but made visible through the process of photographing. D’Haese defines the title of his publication Dagblind as “everybody has a different filter to observe life, things, and people.”

“Existence is a selective blindness.”

For more from D’Haese, please take a look at his website.