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Charlie Koolhaas focuses her work on cities, but only as a backdrop for its inhabitants. In her photographs, even seemingly mundane urban scenes allude to past dramas, they capture how cities are always changing and accumulating new layers and more traces of intertwining stories. Charlie’s photography is an archeology of past glories, achievements and conﬂicts, that say something about how different cultures are trying to surmount problems and control chaos. Charlie seeks to capture the humanity in something which is in transition, and to show surprising moments of spontaneity within formal arrangements; what ‘happens’ to the people, animals, and nature, the ways in which different individuals assert themselves in a city, and how it is shaped by their interaction.
Often Charlie photographs the disused, decayed and broken. Parts of the environment where, over time, different inﬂuences have caused contamination, conversations, cracks, styles and surfaces that meet, and corrupt each other. For her, brokenness is a sign that intense forces have come into collision. A reminder of the pain and suffering of our environment (emotional and physical). She records the ruptures that expose the internal workings of a system, or are a sign of aspirations dashed. These moments of failure force people to make endless reinventions. In her images you will see scenes such as graveyards ﬁlled with gold furniture in the illegal settlements of Cairo, through her images you will witness the widest range of possibilities within the limits of necessity.