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Ken Schles (USA, 1960) established his name in 1990 with the classic and influentialphoto book 'Invisible City'. The New Yorker described his books as "hellishly brilliant". Schles' work is included in the collections of MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited many times by Noorderlicht.
How are you involved with Noorderlicht?
“I am a photographer and I’ve been exhibiting with Noorderlicht for twenty years. My first exhibition in Groningen took place during the festival in 1999.”
What was your favourite Noorderlicht exhibition?
“Since I am from abroad, the only time I really stop by is when I’m making an exhibition or preparing for one. Choosing a favorite exhibition means a toss-up between three: my first exhibition was with the festival ‘Wonderland’ in 1999, co-curated by Wim Melis and Machiel Botman. It highlighted my work along with some extraordinary others like Lee Friedlander, Kiyoshi Suzuki, Jim Goldberg, Johan van der Keuken, Christer, Strömholm, William Eggleston and Dave Heath, just to name a few. But a special place in my heart is reserved for working with Noorderlicht on the publication of my book and the exhibition ‘Oculus’. And I can’t forget about the last show that I worked on with Noorderlicht, selected as ‘exhibition of the year’ by NRC Handelsblad for the dual publication of books published by Steidl, ‘Invisible City’ and ‘Night Walk’.
What do you wish Noorderlicht for the future?
“It’s a challenging time for institutions promoting photography, but an exciting one as well. I would like to see Noorderlicht act as a regional hub to connect with institutions and individuals to highlight photography as a tool to move ideas, and connect with the humanistic roots of what the medium offers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to look back at photography’s history, but rather look more deeply moving forward, turning an eye to convey inimitable aspects of photography as it shows the ‘ghost in the machine’, so to speak. As a technological tool, the camera is guided by human nature to highlight significances of everything humanity is engaged in. Noorderlicht can further this reflection and reflexivity of the practice of photography pointing to what our species has touched and is touched by. Photography is best when it gives us a sense of awe, appreciation and connectedness to the world. I’d like to see more collaboration with scientists and poets, economists and radical activists - groups that don’t necessarily see photography as their primary means of communication. This offers new avenues for collaboration, dissemination and the cross-fertilization of ideas.”