Jan Banning: Bureaucratics

It is such a good idea: To travel to many different countries and take photos of bureaucrats. Dutch photographer Jan Banning did so together with colleague writer Will Tinnemans. Together they made a book – you can browse through it on the site of Banning, address below – and an exhibition, which for the moment is in Copenhagen.

Civil servants behind a desk, lots of details to study behind them, in some cases loads of paper on the desk, family photos behind them or a pin-up girl or two, great cultural studies the colorful photos are, with serious people with a big responsibility and a small salary, if any, in many cases the following text informs the viewer that salary has not been paid for months. Where were they? – In China, in the US, in Russia, Yemen, France or in Bolivia where the police officer runs an office with no phone, no typewriter and no car. Excellent documentation, entertaining and thought provoking for a spoilt Dane.

Made me think of myself and my 20 year life behind the desk in the Danish Film Board, loads of paper and for some years pretty good funding to distribute to filmmakers on the other side of the desk… No, I don’t have a photo for this text!

The book: Publisher: Nazraeli Press (November 7, 2008). Third run limited availability.
ISBN-10: 1590052323 / ISBN-13: 978-1590052327

For the Danes: ’Bureaucratics’ i Nikolaj Kunsthal, Nikolaj Plads, København til den 30. Oktober

Photo from India, taken by Jan Banning.


Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3866