Willem Popelier
works with photography

As a visual artist, Willem Popelier buys ID photos of himself. He stands in front of webcams and security cameras. He photographs himself posing as female topmodels, or as Kim Kardashian. He stacks prints of every video speech of Barack Obama on top of each other. And he buys newspapers when someone dies.
Willem Popelier is intrigued by how society treats photography: he focusses on the mechanisms and politics of representation. He researches the generally accepted ways in which photos are used, and how identity is represented and perceived through photography. Thus his focus is mostly on popular culture, the ubiquitous image and its effects on society.

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"What are we actually looking at in a photograph?"

– Katja Müller-Helle on Popelier's work

"Just how should I expose myself?"

– Stine Jensen on Showroom Girls

"How do we treat images?"

– Willem Popelier in his Artist statement


The Do-It-Yourselfie Guide in Face Control at Foto Colectania, Barcelona

The Do-It-Yourselfie Guide is on show in the exhibition Face Control in Foto Colectania, Barcelona from 4 December 2021 to 20 March 2022.
Face Control is curated by Urs Stahel and focusses on the increased control of the face for both political, economic, and individual gains.
The exhibition will include historical books by Giacomo della Porta, Lavater, Duchenne, Bertillon, Galton, Szondi etc., and photographic and videographic works by Diane Arbus, James Bantone, Broomberg/Chanarin, Daniele Buetti, Shu Lea Cheang, Paolo Cirio, Eli Cortiñas, JH Engström, Adam Feriss, Tina Hage, Richard Hamilton, Alma Haser, Lynne Hershman, Roni Horn, Yuyi John/Fabiola Larios, Tommy Kha, Eva o’Leary, Maria Mavropoulo, Simone Niquille, Trevor Paglen, Willem Popelier and Thomas Ruff.

Rejected identities in Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography.

The Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam presents The Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography, that showcases 99 photographs from 180 years of photography in the Netherlands. These images were selected based on their artistic and social relevance, innovation, and diversity of perspective and have iconic value due to their social and artistic significance. Rejected Identities is selected as one of the 99 photographs. The show is on permanent display at the museum and there is a publication showing the entire selection.

New project Ephemeral photographs

Ephemeral Photographs investigates photography as a volatile medium, to question the value we assign to photos that we share with each other every day online. Ephemeral Photographs is a multi-layered and dynamic project in which online and offline are intertwined. The project was firstly shown at Pennings Foundation, Eindhoven, NL. During five weeks of the exhibition, each day a different image could be seen in the foundation and online on Instagram.

Corona still lifes during Corona lockdown

During Corona lockdown and the period following the lockdown, Nienke Draaisma and Willem Popelier focus on the daily lives of kids, who are unable to go to school and unable to play with their friends. Draaisma and Popelier ask kids what toys matter most to them during this period, to create Corona still lifes. (text in Dutch only).

News Archive


Ephemeral photographs

Investigating photography as a volatile medium.

Paris error

Documenting abstract and elusive feelings of the Paris terror attacks.

Your weekly president

A contemplative reflection on Barack Obama's 8 years in office as US president.

The do-it-yourselfie guide

Re-enaction of the most famous selfies on earth for the ultimate selfie guide.

En Vogue

Analytical view on the visual language of covers of fashion magazines.

Bruno dash Dutch

Portrayal of Bruno, right after his nationality turned from a dash into Dutch.

Inside Obama's compound

One transposed word and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and US president is declared dead.

Obscured classified document (situation room)

Emphasising Hillary Clinton's pixelated document in the iconic Situation room picture.

The Osama papers

The visualisation of the death of Osama bin Laden in newspapers worldwide.

Showroom girls

The phenomenon of digital narcissism visualised by tracing two anonymous girls.


A selection from thousands of anonymous selfies taken from showroom computers in stores.

This is me & this is me

The act of identifying in private images of an identical twin.

Visual proof of my existence

Collecting as much visual proof of being somewhere without bringing your own camera.

███ and Willem. Documentation of a youth

Questioning modern family relationships and how identity is perceived through photography.

Rejected identities

Focusing on the confrontation between personal identity and obligatory identification photography.

Commissioned work

A selection of commissioned work for multiple clients.



+31(0)6 41 31 03 76


Willem Popelier is a visual artist working with photography, based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. His focus is on the mechanisms and politics of representation. He researches the generally accepted ways in which photos are used, and how identity is represented and perceived through photography. Thus his focus is mostly on popular culture, the ubiquitous image and its effects on society.

His work is exhibited worldwide, published in magazines such as C Photo and Foam Magazine, awarded with several prizes including a C/O Berlin Talent, a Bronze Medal for Best Book Design from all over the World, and nominated for the ICP Infinity Award and the Prix Pictet, among others. His work is included in the Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography.

Willem Popelier is tutor and co-course leader at the department of Photography at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam and regularly gives lectures and workshops addressing the ubiquitous image, selfies, the role and implementation of artistic research, and more.

Further information

A selection of essays and interviews
Artist statement
Curriculum Vitae


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All work © Willem Popelier
(copyright notice)

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