Marrie Bot (1946), the Netherlands

Marrie Bot received the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art 1990 for a coherent oeuvre of high quality which also reflects new developments.

In addition to her photo books, Marrie Bot is also working on a continuing photographic series on people in their everyday setting, under the title Hanging Around. Her photographic projects and books testify to a very intense and honest involvement with aspects of social reality which tend to be overlooked. Marrie Bot's work exhibits a symbiosis of vision and commitment which will leave few people unmoved. Her work provides vivid proof of the fact that remarkable results can still be achieved in the field of concerned photography.

Both Miserere and The Burden of Existence were privately published by the author, who also wrote the text and designed the books, producing combined projects in which visual and textual elements form an inextricable whole. Marrie Bot's work, unlike that of many other photographers, cannot be captured in a single representative image. Her photos reinforce each other in the way they interconnect and the text plays an essential supporting role. Through her long-term preoccupation with a single subject, combined with her extremely conscientious approach and professional passion, each of Marrie Bot's photographic projects deepens our vision of an underexposed aspect of society. Her photographs do not merely document the existing situation but, by virtue of the texts she has written, they present a definite and nuanced view of it.
Marrie Bot has been quietly working for years on subsequent photographic projects. The jury is fully confident that these projects will also achieve new heights of artistry and content. They will give new meaning at a high and professional level to the depth and thereby the development of documentational photography in the Netherlands. This satisfied the second criterion for the award of the prize: the perspective of new developments.


Marrie Bot was born in 1946 in Bergambacht and began her training as a graphic designer. In 1973 she took evening classes in drawing and photography at the Free Academy in The Hague. She learned documentary photography primarily through practical experience.
Since 1976 Marrie Bot has been principally involved with freelance photography, choosing her own subjects. Her photos stem from a personal involvement with the photographed situations, in which people usually play the main role.
Since the beginning of her career she has concentrated on projects with a socio-cultural theme. These include the book Miserere (1984), on the great centres of pilgrimage in Europe and the forms of penance still current today, and The Burden of Existence (1988), with photos and stories about the mentally-handicapped. For this book she received the Maria Austria prize in 1989.
At the same time she accepted a number of documentary commissions, in which she was given a free choice of subject. These were Allotments in Amsterdam (1977) and Working on Classical Music (1983-84), for the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts; Punk Pop Concerts (1978) for the Rotterdam Municipal Archive, and Music and Ballet Rehearsals (1985), for the Holland Festival.
Marrie Bot completed four large commissions under the 1% art scheme (whereby 1% of the budget for a new building, or one under renovation, is reserved for the purchase of artwork). The first was for the decoration of a training centre in Alkmaar which she completed in collaboration with the pupils in 1978. In 1989 she collaborated with the photographer Pieter Vandermeer on staged colour photo-murals for a nursing home in Rotterdam, and in 1990 with the photographer Hans Aarsman on a project for the new Dirksland regional hospital. She provided the decorative art work for the second part of the building project by herself in 2000.

In September 2004 she will be presenting her new book Timeless Love, with colour photographs of devoted elderly couples. Marrie Bot's photographs have often been exhibited in galleries and museums at home and abroad. She regularly gives lectures on her work and holds masterclasses at academies of art and the Department of Visual Anthropology at Leiden University.

Works by Marrie Bot are to be found in the collections of the Municipal Museum in Amsterdam, the Print Collection of the University of Leiden, the National Bureau for Graphic Art in The Hague, the Limburg Centre for Photography in Sittard, the Museum for Religious Art in Uden, the Municipal Museum in Toulouse, the Nicéphore Niepce Museum, Châlon sur Saône in France, the Graham Nash Collection in Pasadena, California, USA, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and in various private collections.