photo: Machteld van de Voorde

Martha Stroo (1990) graduated in 2014 for her Bachelor Photography at AKV St. Joost Breda in the Netherlands. Her graduation project "Lapis // I want to return to the real world." was selected for the International Photo Festival Breda Photo 2014.

Martha asks herself a lot of philosophical questions about the concept of reality. She tries to get a grip on these questions through photographing her own created world, where surrealist characters deal in different ways with reality. Her way of slow living brings her back to processing small observations of nature and the metaphors for humans.

Her work was part of exhibition "The Silent Force" in gallery ArtDeli in Amsterdam and summer show "Foreboding" in Sans gallery in Oslo. Her work was also selected for New Dutch Talent 2016 and De Kracht van Rotterdam edition 2015. She presented her new work in October 2015 a solo exhibition in Temporary Art Centre (TAC) Eindhoven. After that she was part of a group exhibition: "Show me what you want show" in Melkweg Amsterdam which was curated by Platvorm Platform. She did an Artist Residency at De Nieuwkomers.

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Martha Stroo (1990) bekroonde in 2014 haar studie fotografie aan het AKV St. Joost met de serie: Lapis // I want to return to the real world. De serie werd geselecteerd voor het International Photo Festival BredaPhoto 2014 en daarnaast voor de première-expositie 'De stille kracht' in de Amsterdamse Galerie ArtDeli op het Rokin.

Hierna is haar werk te bewonderen geweest bij verschillende podiums waaronder de Young Art Night van het Van Abbemuseum, Galerie Sans in Oslo en Het Kunstenaarsbal in Amsterdam.  In eind 2015 had zij een solo-expositie in het Temporary Art Centre “TAC” in Eindhoven, stadsexpositie De Kracht van Rotterdam en een publicatie in Platvorm Platform en expositie in de Melkwegexpo. Ze werkt nu aan een fotoboek over de waarheid en publiceert dit in 2021.

Martha verdiept zich in filosofische vragen omtrent het begrip werkelijkheid. De vragen maakt ze tastbaar door het creëeren en fotograferen van een wereld waarin surrealistische karakters zich op verschillende manieren verhouden tot de waarheid. Zo geeft ze vorm aan een rijke allegorie voor de verbeeldingsstromen in de belevingswereld, die tegelijkertijd sprookjesachtige associaties opwekt en een nieuw perspectief geeft op de menselijke waarheid.


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Interview with BredaPhoto forfestival edition 2014

 interview with OpenRotterdam for Kracht van Rotterdam 2015


Kunnen we in het leven van één realiteit spreken? En hoe gaan we om met het begrip waarheid? Dit zijn slechts een aantal vragen die zich afspelen binnen de fotografie van Martha Kamminga. Haar projecten zijn gebaseerd op concepten als realiteit, waarheid en illusie. De vragen die zij zichzelf stelt worden tastbaar doordat Martha een wereld creëert en fotografeert waarin surrealistische karakters zich op verschillende manieren verhouden tot de waarheid.

Wanneer je ontdekt dat je een eigen realiteit kunt creëren lijkt de wereld te bestaan uit allerlei waarheden die altijd in beweging zijn, gezien er geen universele waarheid bestaat. In haar fotoserie ‘Lapis / I want to return to the real world’ visualiseert Martha haar eigen realiteit en onderzoekt ze de manier waarop dit getransformeerd kan worden tot een illusie. De karakters in Martha’s fotoserie heeft zij namen gegeven: de Fantasievoeder, de Waarheidsjagers en de Twijfelaar. Met de presentatie van deze karakters heeft de fotograaf onderscheid gemaakt tussen verschillende opvattingen van de realiteit. Gelooft de mens in religie of in de wetenschap? En is het mogelijk om deze twee tegengestelde interpretaties met elkaar te verzoenen?

“Tegenwoordig wordt ons perspectief op de waarheid op talloze manieren beïnvloed; de media, onze educatie, ons eigen perspectief in verschillende situaties enzovoorts. Hoe kunnen we nu weten wat waarheid is?’’

Na deze fotoserie raakte Martha gefascineerd door de vertaling van onze wereld; alles in onze wereld heeft tot in detail een naam gekregen. Hoe benoemen we de wereld om ons heen? En belangrijker; wie zijn de mensen die onze wereld definiëren? Martha noemt ze ‘Worldgivers’. Met haar fotoserie 'Woordbrenger' toont ze de intentie van deze ‘Worldgivers’ om de menselijke woordenschat te voeden, in ons op te nemen en te verspreiden. De fotograaf geeft haar voorkeur om de wereld te beschrijven als ongeschapen, onveranderlijk en onnoembaar.


FOTOROOM_Martha Kamminga Uses Mirrors and Diamonds to Represent the Stories of the Immigrants.

The 25 year-old Dutch photographer Martha Kamminga shares some background to The World of the Stranger, a series of photographs inspired by immigration that approaches the subject in a non-documentary way.

Hello Martha, thank you for this interview. What are your main interests as a photographer?

Thank you! My main interest is how we as human beings deal with reality. Everybody approaches life differently, and reacts to both positive and negative events in a different way; this degree of subjectivity makes communication between us difficult. I’ve been using photography to explore these differences and find my own place in the world.

Please introduce us to The World of the Stranger.

The World of the Stranger is a photobook resulting from a collaboration with designer Machteld Blijleven, with whom I had already worked on a previous book project. For this new book we made a trip to Sicily and spoke to the immigrants that came to the island from Africa and the Middle East. We observed the area and also visited a refugee center. The World of the Stranger book is characterized by a combination of photography and typography, and by the reoccurrence in the pictures of different objects that have a symbolic meaning. We analyzed the immigrants’ situation and reacted to it in a kind of surrealistic way. We weren’t interested in making political statements – we just wanted to tell the story of these people and show it to others.

Why did you decide to make a project about immigrants?

These days immigration is always on the news, but when we started working on The World of the Stranger in September 2014, the media wasn’t paying as much attention to the immigrants who were crossing the Mediterranean sea. That made us feel frustrated, because we knew something really big and tragic was happening over there and it seemed that so many people had no idea. We wanted to understand what pushed the immigrants to make that extremely dangerous cross to Europe, the story behind their journey.

Where did you take the images of The World of the Stranger?

We went to the port city of Trapani in Sicily in March 2015. There we spoke to immigrants who had recently come to Europe from the sea, but also people who had been stuck in Italy for as long as seven years. In Sicily the immigrants wish a better future for themselves, which includes moving on further to other European countries. But many are losing their hopes of that happening, and they wander in the streets with no perspectives.

As you said, several objects like mirrors and a diamond recur in the photographs. What is their meaning?

The diamond is an element of the story of one immigrant in particular who fled from Sierra Leone – many conflicts in Africa are sparked by the Western World’s interests in the diamond industry. As to the mirrors, we used them to reflect the sea on the dry land: for the immigrants, the sea was the land they traveled through to reach Europe.

Mirrors also served to create streaks of light. The project’s subtitle is “Searching for the light”: the immigrants are very strong people, always searching for the light. My mind collapses when I try to make sense of the difference between our world and the world they come from – I panic when the battery of my phone is running out, and they have to go through all this… We also used color symbolically: gold stands for hope, silver for the journey, blue for the sea and Operation Mare Nostrum [a special maritime force established to tackle the immigration flows in the Mediterranean, which was replaced in recent months by Frontex].

Did you have any specific references or sources of inspiration in mind while working on The World of the Stranger?

We watched a lot of documentaries – Vice News has some especially good ones on the subject of immigration.  Henk Wildschut’s Shelterproject was also a great source of inspiration.

How do you hope viewers react to the work?

I hope they are confused by the book at first, then shocked, and eventually touched.

What have been the main influences on your photography?

I hate people when they are not real. I love people who believe.

Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?

Melanie Bonajo, Charles Freger, Tommaso Tanini, Noemie Goudal.



Martha Stroo
Born 7 October 1990 Delfzijl, NL
Works and lives near Utrecht, The Netherlands

  • 2014   Bachelor Photography  Art academy AKV | St. Joost in Breda
  • 2013   Internship Organisation Eddie The Eagle Museum in Amsterdam
  • 2013   Internship Artist Aukje Dekker (SEXYLAND & EDDIE THE EAGLE MUSEUM) in Amsterdam
  • 2005  Internship Photographer Yoke Matze in Londen [ENG]

  • 10.2015 Matter Matters #7 Martha Kamminga, TAC, Eindhoven [Curated by Marleen Hartjes]


12.2017     HONK, Stedelijk Museum Breda, Breda
07.2016    De Aanschouw, Rotterdam [Curated by Jeroen Arians]
04.2016    Beeldjagers [ De volkskrant], Art Breda, Breda
04.2016    Mini van Gogh's, Moti Museum, Breda
12.2015    Show me what you want show, Melkwegexpo, Amsterdam [Curated by Platform Platvorm]
12.2015    New Dutch Photography Talent, 5&33 Gallery, Amsterdam
12.2015    De Kracht van Rotterdam edition 2015, Rotterdam
10.2015    Young Art Night, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven
09.2015    ArtDeli meets Unseen Festival, Rokin, Amsterdam [Curated by Liza Nijhuis]
08.2015    Foreboding, Sans Gallery, Oslo [NOR]
05.2015    Het Kunstenaarsbal, Stadschouwburg, Amsterdam [Curated by Eddie The Eagle Museum]
04.2015    De Stille Kracht, ArtDeli Culture Bites, Amsterdam  [Hosted by Cathelijne Broers and Maurice Seleky]
01.2015    8 subjects // 64 references, CultureNight, Electron, Breda
09.2014    BredaPhoto International Photo Festival, Club Solo, Breda
09.2014    Kijk! mijn Familie, Nederlandse Fotoweek, Steenbergen
07.2014    SHIFT, AKV| St. Joost, Breda
09.2013    Performance: Eddie’s Law, Interference Festival, Breda
09.2013    I Like it what is it, MOTI Museum of Image, Breda
09.2013    Kijk! mijn familie, Nederlandse Fotoweek, Stadsarchief Breda
09.2013    Gallery Paridon & Den Hollander, Rotterdam
07.2013    Schadowboxing, Loft Etagi, St. Petersburg [RU]
05.2013    Waar en Meetbaar, Tentoon, Den Bosch
05.2013    The Neck Of Narcisssus, OT301, Amsterdam
06.2012    Museumstraat, in cooperation with Nederlands Fotomuseum
06.2011    Groene Hart kunstprijs, gallery Hoeve Rijlaarsdam, Nieuwkoop
11.2009    Portraits, SKVR Vrije academie, Rotterdam
09.2008   Veiligheid, Sint Jan Church, Gouda
05.2008    Reisgenoten, open studio route, Bodegraven
09.2007      Art-Event, Antwerpen [BE]

2014    Winner of Pitch De Donkere Kamer special edition BredaPhoto, Breda
2014    Nomination YdocBook app Prize, Amsterdam

  • 2018    Erfgoedfabriek magazine, Provincie Noord-Brabant [NL]
  • 2016    Interview in Fotografia Magazine [ENG]
  • 2016    New Dutch Photography Talent 2016 [NL]
  • 2016    De Grote Rotterdamse Kunstkalender 2016 [NL]

  • 06.2015   Denis Darzarq, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam
  • 05.2014   Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber, Het Wilde Weten, Rotterdam
  • 09.2013   Anthony Burril, Moti Museum of Image, Breda

  • 2024 - Jurylid, Fotowedstrijd Groene Hart prijs
  • 2021  - NOW Assistant, artist Pablo Lerma, Amsterdam.
  • 2021 -  NOW “bliksembezoek” art residency De Nieuwkomers, Krabbedijke. [ Founders: Zoe, Joy, Bente]
  • 2018 - NOW Producer at Fotodok, Space for Documentary Photography, Utrecht.
  • [Production Exhibition “Who's in Control” 2018 -2019, Curator Rob Wetzer
  • [Production Exhibition “Dragone” of Jonna Bruinsma in 2019 part of Fringe Festival
  • [Production Exhibition "Ik zie alleen maar kleur" Larice Schuurbiers, Uitfeest 2019 
  • [Production Exhibition “JOINT MEMORY: PHOTOGRAPHIC FRAGMENTS” 2019 -2020 at FOTODOK, Curator Daria Tuminas
    [Production Exhibition "Common Ground": Chapter one with artist Bart Lunenburg in collaboration with Casco Art Institute, Curator Daria Tuminas & Casco Art Institute
  • [Production Talent Program Lighthouse 2019 (pilot version) 
  • [Production Virtual Presence 2020 with Puck Barendrecht & 2021 with Daria Tuminas
  • [Production Exhibition "Pass It On” with artist Pablo Lerma, Inge Meijer, Marianne Ingleby, Lebohang Kganye (ZA), Curator Daria Tuminas
  • 2015    Product photographer for Design Auctions, Vendu Notarishuis, Rotterdam
  • 2016    Production Eventprogram BredaPhoto with Evelien Seegers, Breda [ Pilot Atlas Residency, Pilot Museumstraat with De Gouden Radijs] 
  • 2016    Product Photographer Textile Collection for Breda’s Museum [collaboration Helicon]
  • 2015    Promotionwork, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam
  • 2015    Auction house employee, Vendu Notarishuis, Rotterdam
  • 2015    Artist Talk & Interview by Wilco Tuinwbreijer, ArtDeli, Amsterdam
  • 2015    Artist Talk, De mus Breda, Theater de Avenue, Breda
  • 2015    Host, Museumnight NFM, Rotterdam
  • 2014    Observer, Doc: Vertical Citizens, De Rotterdam, Rotterdam
  • 2014    Attendent, exhibition Marie-José Jongerius, De Rotterdam, Rotterdam
  • 2014    Juror at youth project BredaPhoto in collaboration DIGIPhoto
  • 2014    Participant Young talent night BredaPhoto, Breda
  • 2014    Volunteer, RGB installation Vivanne Sassen, Museumnight, Rotterdam
  • 2013    Production, Schadowboxing, Loft Etagi, St. Petersburg [RU]
  • 2013    Production, Performance: Eddie’s Law, InterferenceFestival, Breda
  • 2013    Production, The Neck Of Narcisssus, OT301, Amsterdam
  • 2013    Attendant, Gallery Vriend van Bavink, Amsterdam
  • 2012    Set Photographer ‘Continiuum’, Wietske de Klerk [Director]
  • 2008  Attendant, Gallery Ecce, Rotterdam

2016   Beeldkanon Rotterdams Beeldmakerscollectief
2016   De Fotoclub Rotterdam
2015   LensCulture
2015   Vereniging De Vereniging
2015   Patty Morgan Platvorm