Portfolio: Carl De Keyzer

From the project "God, Inc" - Photo by Carl De Keyzer

From the project "God, Inc" - Photo by Carl De Keyzer

   Winner Of W. Eugene Smith Award 1990

God, Inc

In the summer of 1990, Carl de Keyser buys a camping-car which will be his home for a year. He has only one subject : religious groups. Religion is an essential part of the American way of life. It appears that God as product is the gap in the American market of the 90s; hence, God Incorporated. Carl de Keyzer’s photographs capture religious life on society margins. These prints both dramatize one sort of information and withhold another sort. De Keyzer suggests that spiritual uplift is not much more exciting than other parts of life that are tedious and repetitious. More important, he suggests that such uplift may be factitious or genuinely felt, and that an observer simply cannot tell the difference.

Carl De Keyzer

Carl De Keyzer started his career as a freelance photo-grapher in 1982, while supporting himself as a photography instructor at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. At the same time, his interest in the work of other photographers led him to co-found and co-direct the XYZ-Photography Gallery. A Magnum nominee in 1990, he became a full member in 1994.

De Keyzer, who has exhibited his work regularly in European galleries, is the recipient of a large number of awards including the Book Award from the Arles Festival, the W. Eugene Smith Award (1990) and the Kodak Award (1992).

De Keyzer likes to tackle large-scale projects and general themes. A basic premise in much of his work is that, in overpopulated communities everywhere, disaster has already struck and infrastructures are on the verge of collapse. His style is not dependent on isolated images; instead, he prefers an accumulation of images which interact with text (often taken from his own travel diaries). In a series of large tableaux, he has covered India, the collapse of the Soviet Union and – more recently – modern-day power and politics.

Carl DeKeyzer, a Belgian photojournalist, was awarded the grant to help him in his search for images that describe, in his words, “the very delicate subject of religion in America.” DeKeyzer spent a year criss-crossing the United States in a motor home to document the spirit and structure of myriad religious groups, and published a book titled “God, Inc.”

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