Between August 31 and October 26, 2014, Noorderlicht Photography returns to the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden, which will host the 21st edition of the world-renowned festival for photography in their newly inaugurated building.
The main exhibition ‘An Ocean of Possibilities’ is produced jointly with Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF), and continues to travel to the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, where it will be shown from 31 October to 28 December 2014.
Saluting the work of Frisian author and poet Jan Slauerhoff, this year’s festival puts center stage those who think ‘outside the box’ and who, dissatisfied with the status quo, set out to seek alternatives, or create their own. An Ocean of Possiblities is dedicated to such ventures which underwrite the principle of freedom understood as our capacity to start something new, to do the unexpected, in a world where it feels as if nothing fundamental will ever change.
Activism back on the agenda
Recent history has witnessed a pressing need for changes so radical that people willingly put their lives and livelihoods on the line for them. And wherever people agree that the system they live in is unjust or even poses a danger to our and other species, the question arises how then to proceed? How do we transform the possibilities we envision into actualities that can be sustained by not only the few, but also the many? Once again there is the feeling that everything is possible. The discussions about our options lead to new engagements with societies as a whole, and to attempts to understand the why of them. This is politics returning to the here and now of a daily life from which it seemed all but evacuated.
Charting the waters
An Ocean of Possibilities brings together the photographers who chart these waters. It homes in on grassroot movements in self-government, on long-term social activists who inspire anti-globalist movements. It portrays individual soldiers taking up position against the wars they fought. It looks at science as a place for mutations, interventions and engineered forms of future life. It finds a small village in Finland where Congolese immigrants are actively encouraged to come settle down. It connects small IT start-ups in Greece with the ICT labs springing up across the African continent. It reconnects Asian urban dwellers with the nature they left behind when migrating from the country side.
The rise of the non-spectacular
What emerges from the selected work is a portrait of the unspectacular, the mundane, the non-heroic, painted in small gestures rather than grand sweeping ones - and this is how it should be. Where photography is usually a tool to facilitate, enhance and confirm our roles as passive consumers of the spectacles of war, entertainment, and politics, it can escape from this relationship by becoming unspectacular itself. As viewers, freed up from spectatorship, we can now move to reclaim a more direct and responsive role in history ourselves.
Off the beaten path
Further exhibitions are planned outside the walls of the Fries Museum. A remarkable number of photographers focusses on the back-to-nature movement that has landslided public attention and fueled a manifold of personal projects. As a phenomenon on its own, it warranted a separate presentation, covering the good, the bad and the ugly of life off the beaten path. Another recurring theme is that of the civil uprisings that make a bid for an alternative to the status quo, or even to the State as such. A selection of those series responding to the events will be shown in public space.