The 21st Noorderlicht International Photo Festival 2014 is inspired by the growing quest for different means to shape our collective future, in a hopeful answer to the structural failings of our current economic and political systems.
With To Have and Have Not (2013), Noorderlicht shed light on the causes and agents behind the current global economic and political crisis. An Ocean of Possibilities moves beyond dissecting what went wrong, and looks at the decisive potential of those who go against the tide and plot their own course.
These may be individuals, small communities, businesses that think in terms of sustainability, or social enterprises. Whatever their form, they set out to realize a better future, not only for themselves but also for others, even if that means an uncertain outlook.
In a recent interview, artist, engineer and activist Natalie Jeremijenko identifies this growing drive for change as a crisis of agency. “The work I do addresses what I call “the crisis of agency”, in other words: what to do .... in the face of so many environmental and political challenges. What do I do as an individual, collective, or community? How do we produce a desirable future? Do we have any agency to imagine and redesign our collective relationship to natural systems? Can we make desirable imaginative changes?”
The crisis of agency as a term is more commonly used to signify the struggles with the global corporations whose powers threaten the sovereignty of the nation states, undermine representative democracy and corrode the ecosystem of the entire planet. As the effects of this struggle are spilling over into our personal lives, this crisis of agency is now felt by all. It is taken by some as a challenge to reclaim their own agency amidst social structures that are liquefying at an alarming rate, while forcing others to renegotiate the conditions of their existence.
The subject turned out to be only partly explored. Researching this topic – including the more than 700 entries – was not simple. The map that emerges is a preliminary one, with many waters left to charter.
Some routes, being visually rich or closer at hand, appeared more frequented than others, and were let to balloon beyond the walls of the Fries Museum to the nearby Natuurmuseum Fryslân, the Blokhuispoort and in pop-up spaces in Shopping Mall Zaailand. The main exhibition An Ocean of Possibilities is hosted by the Fries Museum.
The extensive press release as a pdf with illustrations can be downloaded via this link. Also visit our website with a comprehensive overview of the festival.