Dutch Moluccan photographer Chavez would never betray his roots

Easily among the greatest things of working hard to fulfill our debranding mission in the fashion industry, is the privilege of meeting many like-minded, dedicated talents and inspiring artists throughout the year. Without a doubt, our photographer for project ‘Don’t let others decide’, Chavez van den Born, proved to qualify as one of them in 2017. Wanting to know more about him, we asked him a couple of fundamental questions about photography, life, and society.

First of, Chavez, please introduce yourself. Who are you, where you from, what keeps you busy?

I’m a Documentary & Fashion Photographer, Art Director and Music curator for my own music collective Sosodality. I am born and bred in the small city of Arnhem, which resides in the east of the Netherlands. I’m from Dutch and Moluccan heritage. I am a student Photography at the School of Arts in Utrecht, and currently in my graduation year where I research about the friction between double nationalities as a Dutch Moluccan.

Our followers might know you because of your endeavors for our project ‘Don’t let others decide’. Why did you and aeuoeu turn out to be such a well-fitting match?

Probably because we have the same mindset. You guys wanted to tell the same story as I did about those magnificent newcomers. I want their stories to be heard too. There is enough pain and trouble in today’s society, so let’s help each other out a bit. Even if people are foreign to one another. I think we can learn from every individual.

Unfortunately though, you’re not our very own photographer. You’ve been working on your own portfolio too. Would you be able to elaborate upon some of your finest projects?

I’ve been pretty busy with my own portfolio lately in a more commercial, fashion related way. Besides, I also love portraying human beings. I mostly take inspiration from a Japanese form of photography in which subjects are photographed rather harsh by using the flash extensively. A project that comes to mind in that regard was an assignment for Dutch Moroccan fashion designer Karim Adduchi. I had to capture one of his shows, situated in a church. It was a pretty cool show with an awesome collection, inspired by Arabian clothing with a western touch. I made some beautiful portraits of the models getting dressed, waiting and standing in the make up for hours. I really liked this one.

Chavez van den Born for aeuoeu

Another project I’m fairly proud of called ‘A New Generation’ is used for my upcoming graduation project. I photographed young Moluccan men that, despite their similar roots, grew up so differently because of deviating cultural influences, living standards, and interracial relationships.

Chavez van den Born for aeuoeu - 2

Also noteworthy is my project ‘Rendezvous’. I photographed my dating life for a year to depict the ‘fast’ dating life, its interchangeability, and erotica in a young adult’s life. It’s totally different from what I was used to do. I didn’t portray people like I usually do. It was more of an animalistic instinct which gave me the urge to photograph my date. It was like saving a precious and specific moment of time.

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It seems obvious that your roots have influenced your work as a photographer. Do you roots also influence you as a human being?

True. Their stories about the struggle of living in an unknown, cold environment - raising kids, reinforcing the family bond and preserving our culture, are stories I will keep on telling throughout my photography. And yes, my roots definitely influence me as a human being - it helps me seeing things from an another perspective. Being a halfbreed of a minority group that occupies a black page in the Dutch history, makes me think about our ‘melting pot’ society. It enables me to see and tell a different story than others.

Are your roots a driving force in achieving your dreams?

Absolutely. My grandmother, who unfortunately passed away not so long ago, is the driving force behind all of my work and the way I live today. She came here from The Moluccans with only a suitcase and the clothes she were wearing. She and her parents had to figure out how to adapt to a totally new and strange environment. She succeeded though. She raised eight children on her own, worked at a factory and gave everyone here motherly love. Most of all, she gave her remaining energy and love to her grandchildren till the day she passed away. In my opinion, no had a tougher life than her. She is my motivation. When I feel like peaking, I look at my forearm to remember there is more to achieve. Like she could.

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Speaking of dreams, what is that one thing you wanna have contributed to during your career?

I want to have created stuff that no has ever seen. It’s a thrill to create something totally new and discover what the function of it could be. It keeps me going to think out concepts and trying to recreate the exact thing that I envisioned on paper and in my head. It’s always a huge adrenaline rush. Currently I have that same feeling with my graduation project, which should be an experience of imagery, video, touch, and scents.

The past half an hour we’ve already been asking pretty much. What we didn’t ask though, is the philosophy that characterizes Chavez. What is your daily ‘carpe diem’?

“Ale rasa, Beta Rasa". Which translates to what you feel is what I feel. I am fond of all sorts of people. Every single one of them. Unfortunately, many are often unheard and misunderstood. Let’s, firstly, just try to peacefully communicate with each other. We are able to understand each other.

If you’d like to know more about Chavez’ photography, click here.

Chavez also runs music collective Sosodality full of future beats, with cousin Matjang and best friend MDOS. Check it out here!