Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Hi, I’m Thomas and I’m still a hoarder.

May 14, 2018 - Thomas Kuijpers

In fact, look at what I found today in the second hand store here in Stockholm! Another beautiful item for my Twin Towers collection. I’ve been collecting pre 9/11 images of the Twin Towers for over five years now, and it all started with a painting I saw at a second hand shop. I ran into this super kitsch, purple-ish painting of the New York skyline, with the Twin Towers centred in the middle. When the towers came down, I, like most kids of my age, watched it live on TV. I was 15 years old, and immediately grasped the importance of the situation. I even kept the newspaper of the day after, which is still in my archive. But the interesting thing about this moment was, that I had no connection whatsoever with these towers in particular. The moment they came down was the moment I learned of their existence.


When I heard ‘Twin Towers’ ever since, it immediately triggered images of the second plane hitting the tower, the explosion, towers falling down, people jumping out, clouds of dust filling the streets of New York City. As if I’d been there. As if we’d all been there, live, with just a screen in between. This later became a significant moment in my artistry, as it is for a lot of artists of my generation I guess, because this was the very first time we got a conscious note on how strong the impact of a media-event like this could be. All the things that unfolded from this single event, and the way the constant repetition of these images contributed to all these effects, was mesmerizing to me, even at that age. The more surreal the moment was, when I found this painting in the thrift shop, almost 10 years later. The only caption the painting had said ‘Painted before 2001’. I looked at the painting, and while gazing through all it’s kitschness, something new happened to me. The planes got on hold, the towers falling down as well – I got to experience the image as it must have been perceived before. Not like the image, but an alternative image opposed to the ones that always had been triggered when looking at images of these towers. Here they were, in their beauty, strong, fierce, a proud part of the New York Skyline. An image I never got to experience before.

I decided to buy the painting (the start of this collection), and under the title When the Twins were still beautiful I started to amass a collection of images, paintings, snow-globes, postcards, VHS-tapes, records, computer games, film-clippings, posters, bathing-suits, you name it – that put the Twin Towers in this pre 9/11 perspective of beauty. This got kinda out of hand quickly, as illustrated by the following images. The final shot of the installation at Foam3H is about half of the collection as it is today.





Oh, by the way, if you have any items you want to donate, I’d be happy to adopt them! Same goes for photo’s of yourself/relatives on the top of the towers. It’s all neatly stacked in the basement of our house and my flatmates would just love it if I take up even more space! <3 Maybe I need to share some more highlights, right? Let’s see what I have digitalized with me right now.. Here we go, tomorrow another collection:




Oh yes, and this is kind of a collection within the collection (one of them, there are more collections within the collection but you should ask me about that when you see me someday, especially the story about the collection of paintings is weird – whoooo drifting off here) – here are some spreads of the album with collected photographs of people who had their pictures taken on top of the towers. A large amount of these I have found browsing the web, but a significant part is from people whom I got in touch with during the collecting of these items. The question I always ask when I go to pick up something I found through an online ad, is: ‘Why do you have this in your house?’ Most of the time it’s a souvenir, reminding them of the time they were there. So then I ask them if they’ve been on the top, and if they have, they almost certainly also have a picture of that moment. Most of them send it later or let me take a reproduction instantly.




So if you have one of those of yourself or anyone else, send it to me, please! I’ll give it a beautiful spot in the album. Tomorrow we’ll talk about something with hands. xoxo