"to be honest, I'm drifting away from many things that are important to me, many people and many things. In a sense I am drifting away from myself, from the life I have. But in another sense this already happened before: where is that boy who photographed himself in the mirror, or the couple in the cinema? Where has that curiosity gone? I am not sure if I want to know the answer, so you tell me, should I want to know?" (from an email exchange with Catherine Duncan).

It was a piece in which I used many unpublished images. Those which had fallen out of the book dummies. It was a collection without sense, because I wasn't consistent: I still brought in known and published images. The wall version of Drifting was liked a lot. It always felt that was because it just looked impressive and perhaps that was reason enough.

"you will do what you have to do, but while you are at it do not forget to use that camera: you have brightened my days with your dark and mysterious images. I insist you keep them coming". (from the same email exchange with Kate)

My first exhibition with HUP Gallery in Amsterdam, in 2005, was soon after the Rainchild exhibitions. In fact these were still happening, both with Gallerie Vu and with Grazia Neri. It was not logic to copy these exhibitions, and we decided to show unpublished work. I had just made Rainchild, on which I had worked over ten years. Any next book is (also) a reaction to the book before: I made one dummy for Drifting, one layout, one title, one sequence. That was it. And this time I was consistent: this catalog Drifting had only unpublished images. Hup's young designer found the crazy typography for the cover, which I would have never thought to use, and I loved it. The idea to print the glossy black typography on the dark grey carton of the slip case came from the cover of Masao Yamamoto's beautiful book A Box of Ku, published by Nazraeli Press in 1998.



Published by HUP Gallery, Amsterdam in 2005

Softcover in a carton slipcase

Editing and design Machiel Botman

First edition 500 copies, including a limited edition of 25 copies which includes a silverprint of the image Sydney, 1999


 (Sydney 1999)

Images of the spreads from this catalog Drifting are shown with the kind permission of the publisher

(Copyright for the images in Drifting is with the author. Copyright for the images of the spreads of Drifting is with the publisher Kahmann Gallery (before Hup Gallery) in Amsterdam)





Lots of good and concerned photography! I am always very glad to be part of it.






      Collage from the second dummy for Rainchild - called Emu (1995)

When Heartbeat was published in 1994, I was already working on Rainchild, except I did not know it. In the winter of 1993 I made my first trip to Australia, asked by friend-photographer Max Pam to join him and his two children Eko and Jack on a drive from East to West Australia.  They had lived in England for some years and were moving back to Fremantle near Perth, on the westcoast. Max wanted his children to have the sense of the country while moving back. In 1993 I was finishing Heartbeat. I was also finishing a long curating project, my first, an exhibition with the photographs of french photographer Izis about Marc Chagall. This exhibition for the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam was made by Leo Divendal, Victor Levie and me. Above all 1993 was the year in which I was coming to terms with the passing of my mother, the passing of two friends in Holland, and of the daughter of Izis, Lise.

That first trip to Australia changed everything. For some reason being on the other side of the planet helped me look at the previous years, helped me see that I was doing ok. Obviously this influenced my photography. Making dummies for Heartbeat introduced me to another world. One where trying to put things into a context became as important as photographing. The house for the context was the book. From the start I began making dummies, knowing I was far from ready with a series of photographs, and letting these dummies show me my paths.

The first dummy was called Emu, after the australian bird and also after the french: "je suis emu - I am touched".  I made three copies of this photocopied dummy, one each for my friends Phil and Max, and one for me. My way of thanking them for showing me around. I was touched by many things in that country and they will sound like cliches when written down. But what touched me most were my own changes. I began to breathe. I liked my early mornings again. I could look people in their eyes again without feeling I'd begin to cry at any moment. For some reason, while moving inside that bare and wild country, that pain left me and I guess it is no more than logic that only then I could see how much of it there had been. I also realised how small a part my ratio was. It was as if this part had walked ahead of me, telling me how many reasons I had to feel better. It took me three years to catch up.

      Collage from two dummies for Rainchild - called Heart of OZ (1996) and Innamincka (1997)

After that first dummy Emu followed many others. I also made more trips to Australia and it first looked as if I was doing a work (a book) about this country. But soon I began to mix the images from both worlds, also the images from home came in as it just seemed strange to keep them separated. Other dummies were titled: Heart of OZ; Innamincka; Time to play; Drifting; Home; It just goes to show; Our fathers, our mothers are from Tokyo; Portraits; Ca et La; and finally Rainchild.

Each dummy led to the next dummy. I transferred what I liked and left behind what I did not like. As said before I began this process with that first dummy called Emu and ended it almost ten years later. The last two years I had a lot of help from Fred Ritchin and Victor Levie. Fred helped me edit and suggested I would make a second book inside the first: a chapter taken from all this dummy material. Until today I don't know if he realised he added almost two more years to the whole thing. Victor helped in his usual strong ways, almost like retouching my processes. That was about everything, the editing, the sequencing, the layout, the typography.

   Cover for the first dummy for Rainchild - called Emu (1994) 


Published by Schaden, and Le Point du Jour in 2004

Illustrated cloth with dustjacket and a clear acetate

Size  22.5 X 28cm. 120 pages duotone and full color printing

Photographs and texts Machiel Botman

Editing & design Machiel Botman, Fred Ritchin, Victor Levie and Reinier van Wel

Scans and printing by Rosbeek, Nuth, The Netherlands

Binding by Van Waarden, Zaandam, The Netherlands

First edition 2500 copies total, of which 1500 english (Schaden) and 1000 french (Le Point du Jour). For each language there was a limited edition (mentioned in the colofon) lettered A to Z, signed, with a fiber print of the image Art and Jaz. This limited edition came in an lllustrated cloth slipcase. 


   Slipcase Limited Edition 






      Collage from the final Heartbeat dummy (1994)

Between the end of 1990 and 1994 I made about seven different dummies for Heartbeat. Some with fiberprints, the others photocopied. This began after the unexpected passing away of my mother. I had photographed about 15 years and made selections from that period, about her of course, and about everything else that mattered: my relationships, my brother, my friends, my son and the places where I lived, mostly in The Netherlands and in France. Heartbeat became a visual poem in which happiness and sadness went hand in hand. Nothing was linear or chronological in the book.

The images I used for Heartbeat were taken without any intent to publish them in a book. I never was much of a planner and I photographed from intuition, always kind of reacting to things. I began by photographing directly around me. And that never changed much, except of course, my circles of living life became larger, or different, or something.



(self) published by Volute 1994

Illustrated hardboards (issued without dustjacket)

Size 23 X 31.5 cm. 64 pages duotone printing

Photographs and texts Machiel Botman

Editing & design Machiel Botman, Adriaan Monshouwer, Victor Levie and Fred Ritchin

Scans and printing by Veenman Drukkers, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Binding Boekbinderij Van Mierlo, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

First edition 1500 copies total, of which 500 in Dutch, 500 English and 500 French.

For each language there was a limited edition (mentioned in the colofon) of 15 copies, with a signed fiberprint of the cover image. This limited edition had a handmade slipcase, illustrated by the author.

The exhibition Heartbeat opened in Het Nederlands Foto Instituut in Rotterdam, in december of 1994. With the prints we also put up one of the dummies, a leporello of nearly 20 meters long. 


Slipcase limited edition of Heartbeat - none were the same




Profile by Dean Brierly