For the second year in a row Unseen goes fair with Moyee – the world's first fairchain coffee! During the fair, not only will Moyee be onsite providing all coffee enthusiasts with their daily caffeine kick, they'll also be exhibiting the work of Jan Hoek in the back of their firetruck, outside on the Klönneplein. Read more about this photo series below.
This spring photographer Jan Hoek travelled to Ethiopia as a ‘visual ombudsman’ for Amsterdam-based FairChain coffee brand Moyee. Was Moyee living up to its FairChain promise and truly helping its coffee farmers and partners realize their dreams? The result is a hilariously kitschy and touching Faces of FairChain campaign that will be unveiled at the artist’s upcoming New Supermodels solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam.
In the spring of 2016 Moyee asked Hoek to travel to Ethiopia to capture the key players behind FairChain coffee using the photographer’s typical theatrical style and bright contrasts. Originally, Hoek said no.
“I don’t do typical brand campaigns, especially campaigns brands think up themselves,” the photographer says. “But Moyee pursued me quite relentlessly and eventually I said I would be willing to go as a ‘visual ombudsman’. I basically proposed to photograph a critical campaign, and I was absolutely certain they would tell me to get lost. After all, what brand would say yes to all that? Well, they said yes.”
"A lot of people who work for Moyee do so because they truly believe in its mission,” says Hoek.
“We are pretty vocal about our positive intentions, so it would have been pretty hypocritical to turn Jan down,” says Moyee founder Guido van Staveren. “We originally wanted Jan to photograph our partners with Western consumption articles like refrigerators and TVs, stuff they dream of buying with more money. Jan wanted to dive deeper than that, get more personal than that. We gave him that freedom.”
No status quo
A Charlotte Kohler Prize winner, Hoek’s oeuvre includes alcoholic lovers in Amsterdam, Thai sex workers, Ethiopian madmen and Kenyans masquerading as Somali pirates. Whilst only 32, the Dutch photographer has travelled extensively through Africa and Asia snapping bright, honest and playfully profound shots of local people and cultures.
“My work critically zooms in on the relationship between model and photographer,” says Hoek. “As a photographer, I don’t believe that all ethical issues can be solved. The same holds true for a company like Moyee that aims to be ethical. Your intensions may be there, but you can’t solve every problem. You can’t be all perfect. This tension is palpable in all my own work.”
Faces of FairChain
The Faces of FairChain images are at times kitschy, at times hilarious, and they continuously offer a critical perspective of Moyee’s promise to make lives better. One image is of the coffee brand’s Ethiopian CEO dressed like a pimp and sitting on a throne. Another pictures a female roaster squatting on a toy Mercedes. There are saleswomen dressed kitschily as James Bond girls, and coffee bean sorters surrounded by books for their children. According to Hoek, Moyee’s coffee farmers would rather be doctors. The catch is that all their dreams rely on FairChain becoming a global phenomenon.
One image is of the coffee brand’s Ethiopian CEO dressed like a pimp and sitting on a throne. Another pictures a female roaster squatting on a toy Mercedes.
“Admittedly, the coffee sorters said they’d never earned so much money as they do now at Moyee,” says Hoek. “Yet even so, they still can’t buy all the nice things they’d like for their children. And whilst the coffee farmers are earning more, many of them are spending it all on honey wine.”
Hoek photographed each individual after having extensive conversations with them about their ambitions, their realities and their daily struggles. Hoek includes the key takeouts from his conversations in each photograph in the form of handwritten speech bubbles.
Drop by their firetruck on the square this weekend where you can grab a cup of FairChain coffee and see the Jan Hoek exhibition in person!