Commission series sharpens vision
Photographers know the frustration better than anyone else: you have invested a lot of time in a subject but know that all you have done is a sort of 'snapshot', a fraction of a much more complex story. With support from the Mondriaan Fund, Noorderlicht offered seven photographers a chance to return to a subject that was close to their heart and deepen, sharpen or nuance their work on it with a new series. The seven were selected by a jury of professionals from a total of 134 project proposals, on the basis of the visual strength of the previous work and the urgency of the sequel.
The Sequel offers scope for young talent and old masters, different generations which together have a greater story to tell, making use of both classic and modern means. Noorderlicht shows how innovation stands on the shoulders of tradition, and that the history of photography is a rich and uninterrupted continuum. In addition, it offers a counterweight to the hype that – in part as a result of budgetary restrictions – seems to reign in contemporary photography. In defiance of the often invoked ‘crisis in documentary photography’, The Sequel dives deep under the surface.
Below you will find the shortened jury report.
From 19 through 29 September 2013 a selectie of The Sequel is on show at Photoville in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City.
Ad van Denderen photographs the newly built Palestinian city of Rawabi, providing an acid counterpoint to his previous series on Baladia, training city of the Israeli army.
Pieter ten Hoopen returns to the mythic city of Kitezh in eastern Russia to talk with the locals about life and hope.
Christian Kryl adds a new layer to his ongoing recording of the international jet set and the places they visit.
Kadir van Lohuizen revisits a Moroccan family in Amsterdam-East whose life he recorded twenty years ago.
Andrea Stultiens follows the trail of Paul Julien (1901-2001), who during many trips to Africa produced an archive of photos, films, texts, anthropometric data and blood samples.
Lidwien van de Ven returns to the Middle East to make a personal document in the midst of turbulence.
Xiaoxiao Xu deepens a previous, emotionally charged series about her roots and the city she left in her teens, the Chinese port of Wenzhou.
On Monday, 14 January, 2013, a jury of professionals met in Groningen to select the seven photographers for the commissions. Noorderlicht and the jury are pleased with the high level of the submissions and the great variety in themes, approaches and execution they represent, and thank everyone who participated.
Noorderlicht received 134 project proposals. One hundred of them were presented to the jury.
The jury carefully studied all 100 proposals at length and with great interest. After a first selection, 51 of them were discussed in depth. The jury emphasizes that no distinctions were made between well known and lesser known photographers, and that age was never an issue.
The guiding principles in the judgement were the visual and photographic strength of the work, the urgency and relevance of the proposed follow-up, and whether it called up a desire among the jury to see the results. Furthermore, it was important that the jury was convinced of the photographer's capacity to realize the plan, both in terms of quality and technically, within a realistic budget, and whether the plan was realistic in the sense of access and the available time frame. Other criteria included originality, the relation of the plan to the photographer's oeuvre, and whether the proposed sequel could stand independently of the old work. Sometimes the distinctive manner of presentation in the proposal also played a role.
On the basis of these criteria a couple of otherwise good proposals which the jury would have liked to support, had to be eliminated from consideration, as unfortunately they did not fit within the boundaries of the commission.
The jury, after ample and thorough discussion, arrived at a unanimous selection of seven stories that one and all are very well substantiated, varied geographically and in approach, and in which the stories which are being followed up each have a different point of departure.
The jury believes in the photographers who are receiving these commissions, and is proud of the high level of the selection. They look forward with great anticipation to the follow-up stories, and are confident that the photographers' performance will provide interesting results.
In closing, the jury would like to note the following. The common denominator in documentary photography is that a photographer seeks to understand a subject profoundly, researches it, immerses him or herself in it. That takes time and a degree of attention which alas seems to be increasingly impossible to muster, and is found ever less frequently. As a result, potentially important visual stories are lost.
The jury deeply appreciates that with this series of commissions, they – with the financial support of the Mondriaan Fund – can help to assure that a number of photographers can return to a story and deal with it in greater depth. Within documentary photography, that is the most telling addition and support one could give.
The jury hopes that there is a sequel to this initiative.
The jury of professionals consisted of:
- Claudia Hinterseer – director, NOOR photo agency
- Hester Keijser - artistic director East Wing, blogger at Mrs. Deane and The Independent Photobook), curator
- Nina Post - Post Editions Publishing
- Jenny Smets - freelance photography consultant, picture editor Vrij Nederland, member of the committee for the Mondriaan Fund
- Wim Melis – curator, Noorderlicht
Noorderlicht is very proud and happy with this selection of photographers and thanks the jury for their thorough judging.
The Sequel is an initiative of Noorderlicht. Without the generous financial support of the Mondriaan Fund it would not have been possible.
More information: Irene Kromhout (Project Manager): irene[at]noorderlicht.com or +31 (0)50 318 22 27
The jury's choice
The jury chose the proposal from Ad van Denderen (b. 1943) because of the intelligent strategy which testified to a sensitivity to the situation and understanding for both sides. The proposal is a good format for visualizing the conflict on the West Bank, on the basis of these two concrete examples. It is the feeling of the jury that the attention for architecture expressed in the two series fits well with the essence of the subject. The addition of archival images is valuable, and shows how the conflict has grown from the past. The proposal fits seamlessly into the commission, and the series Baladia Stad is of high quality, both visually and in terms of content. Along with the fact that Van Denderen has known and followed this subject for many years now, all this convinces the jury that Van Denderen's participation in The Sequel will be of interest.
Pieter ten Hoopen (b. 1974) has mastered various photographic styles and is able to employ them appropriately for his subjects. The exceptional quality of his personal documentaries, the beautifully chosen stories and his fresh approach make his work unique and appealing. Moreover, the subject affords enough additional points of departure for a new series.
The jury finds it an interesting and authentic choice for approaching the hard reality of life in Russia through a story about myths and dreams. The jury is pleased to give Ten Hoopen this commission and confidently looks forward to a satisfying sequel.
An important value in the proposal by Christian Kryl (b. 1979) is that he has taken an interesting but under-documented social class as his subject. He gets his teeth into an unfashionable subject for a sustained period, does not make it easy for himself, and takes risks. Kryl has developed a visual vocabulary that fits well with the subject. The jury finds the linkage in the project between the places and his meta-vision on his own way of working to be an interesting approach. The work is fresh, original and authentic, and the jury is therefore confidently awards the commission to Christian Kryl.
The jury believes it will be interesting to see how someone, after years of travelling around the world, returns to the Netherlands and to the beginning of his career. In light of the 20 years which have elapsed, we expect that there will be a development to be seen in both the work and the subject. Between then and now Kadir van Lohuizen (b. 1963) has tackled many subjects. The jury is curious whether he is going to produce a document which will reflect its times, both thematically and stylistically, as did the old series. The subject is socially relevant and highly topical today, and the proposal fits well with the commission. In addition, it is a pleasing ‘small’ story, with an unknown outcome. The jury is however certain that, whatever he encounters, Van Lohuizen can make a valuable visual story of it.
The jury sees a very positive development in the work of Andrea Stultiens (b. 1974) in recent years. As a photographer she is able to relate to her subjects with great integrity. In her projects she gives space to the people with whom she is working, which bears witness to a sensitivity and responsibility for the impact of her actions. This proposal fits well within Stultiens's oeuvre, and appears to be a logical next step. It is an intelligently conceived project which can only become more special through Stultiens’s own approach. The jury looks forward to the results of this commission with the greatest anticipation, and is pleased with the work of Paul Julien as a wonderful addition to the presentation.
The jury is first of all impressed by how the work of Lidwien van de Ven (b. 1963) is positioned at the interface of current events and her free interpretation of them. Van de Ven is the most autonomous artist within the selection, and the jury finds it very exciting and stimulating to see how she will relate to her subject.
For The Sequel Van de Ven is building on a strong foundation of experience and knowledge of the region and its history. The jury is curious about how, with her work in Egypt, she will maintain her unique position, without falling into reportage. The fragility that characterizes her work will have to develop further despite the topical subject, rather than thanks to it. As she herself says, she will also have “[...] to think outside the oppositions and antagonisms that always are advanced so immediately in relation to the West and the Middle East.”
The jury looks forward confidently to the results, and moreover has high expectations for the presentation.
The jury found the proposal by Xiaoxiao Xu (b. 1984) to be the most unexpected. It is a personal story, but the work transcends the merely individual. Moreover, Xu brings a new visual language to the subject. The work from which she is starting is strong, and the project proposal adds up, intrigues and promises a good result. The jury finds Xu's work very convincing, especially for someone who has not been active for all that long. It is fresh, appears to be unified, and Xu is not afraid to take the following steps. This project has the added value of giving “a picture of the basics of the Chinese in the Netherlands – a glimpse into their closed closets, a look into their personal history, and a look into their hearts and their most cherished wishes,” as Xu herself put it.
It is with great enthusiasm that the jury awards the commission to Xiaoxiao Xu.