Festivals

World Famous Photographers meet near the Arctic Circle at Nordic Light International Festival of Photography

Image © Jerry Uelsmann

Main image © Jerry Uelsmann. All images © the artist, courtesy Nordic Lights Festival

A remarkable collection of world-famous photographers are meeting to exhibit in Kristiansund, the tiny city in northernmost Norway, for the Nordic Lights Festival.

The Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, the photo festival in the small island-city of Kristiansund, on the northern reaches of the Norwegian coastland, returns for its eleventh edition with exhibitions from international photographers including Espen Rasmussen, Ralph Gibson, Martine Poppe and Jerry Uelsmann.

Nordic Light is not an especially venerated photography festival, yet it consistently demonstrates an ability to attract some of the biggest names in the business.

Last year, the American photojournalist James Nachtwey visited the small Norwegian town.

In years before, Kristiansund has welcomed Bruce Gilden, Bruce Davidson, Martin Parr, Gered Mankowitz and Lucien Clergue.

Set in the local cinema in the centre of town, Nordic Lights’ days are orientated around lectures from an eclectic range of photography, in a town with a population of just 24,000.

The festival sees around half that amount of people visit the festival for its week-long duration every year.

For a festival with only a handful of full-time staff, and made possible only by a close-knit community of local volunteers, who contribute food, manpower, time and energy to the festival, its testament to the passion of the festival that 18 established international photographers will exhibit this year.

The festival uses intimacy of scale to its advantage, allowing local people to mix with world-class photographers in the local cinema, bars and restaurants.

Morten Krogvold, who has been the artistic director since the festival’s birth 11 years ago, tells BJP: “I ask all the guests to concentrate for three or four days to digest what is happening while at the same time wining and dining. People switch off their cell phones – they are 100 percent there.”

Here, we profile the leading photographers at this year’s festival:

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Image © Ralph Gibson

Ralph Gibson

The American photographer Ralph Gibson is one of photography’s legends. Ralph started his career in the early 60s as the assistant of two the greatest names in the history of photography – Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank.

Today, Gibson can look back at a career over fifty years comprising of 40 photo books, hundreds of exhibitions over more than 150 places all around the world.

Gibson’s photos, often studies of the female body, are known for their graphic and abstract qualities, often described as erotic and surrealistic.

Even though he is almost 80 years old, Gibson is still an active photographer, now participating in numerous new exhibitions and projects.

Image © Anders Petersen

Anders Petersen   

Petersen’s close and intimate photographs of the clients at the famously disreputable Hamburg-based Café Lehmitz, the hang-out of prostitutes and drug addicts, has given the Swedish photographer a highly-esteemed name amongst photographers.

He studied photography under the mentoring of Christer Strömholm in the mid-60s and started his most recognized and noteworthy work ‘Café Lehmitz’ shortly after. Over a period of three years he frequently visited the infamous café, resulting in the 1978 book with the same name was published,  today considered a seminal book in the European history of photography.

Throughout his career he has photographed in prisons and mental asylums in several countries like Rome, London and Japan and his home country Sweden, resulting in more than 30 books, several exhibitions and many prizes during a career that has lasted for almost fifty years.

Image © Donata Wenders

Donata Wenders

Wenders black and white moment-portraits of celebrities and random strangers – either actors from the set of her husband Wim Wenders, strangers in the street – have been shown all over the globe. Along with her husband, Wenders worked for several years in the film industry, but in 1995 she gave her full attention to photography.

In 2006, she published the book Island of Silence, consisting of portraits of well-known personalities, presented side by side with normal person caught in the street. Milla Jovovich, Jessica Lange, Siri Hustvedt are presented alongside a women at the tram in Berlin, a cleaner at a ballet school in Havana. Wenders has published in various books published in collaboration with her husband with pictures from the set of Buena Vista Social Club, Pina and Million Dollar Hotel.

Image © Mikkel Aaland

Mikkel Aaland

Mikkel is once again returning to the Nordic Light-festival as a co-host and exhibitor. The photographer of American and Norwegian descent has become a familiar face at the festival almost every year since 2008. He is resident in San Francisco and Ulefoss, Norway, actively working as a photographer, workshop host and author. He published his first book, Sweat, in 1978, and has, in total, authored twelve books on photography.

For the festival he is bringing with him a portrait of America, “Country Fair Portraits”, which was photographed at local fairs all over the states in the 70s. The pictures were distributed as a book in 1981, telling the story of America through its countrymen.

Image © Jo Bentdal

Jo Bentdal

The Norwegian photographer Jo Bentdal is attending this year’s festival with the exhibit ‘Common Sensibility’, an exhibition constructed of portraits of young, teenage girls, presented in a typical renaissance art expression. In a darkened room with minimal interior, each girl is photographed with the same posture in a large chair. “He is endorsing the authority of the objects that is presented as pure and natural,” Morten Krogvold says of Bentdal’s photography. “He is conveying the message that this is the girls that we are reporting to, the girls who soon will give their own imprint in world’s development.”

Image © Espen Rasmussen

Espen Rasmussen

Espen Rasmussen is one of Norway’s most recognized and awarded photojournalists, and was last year variously awarded with Picture of the year 2015, Photojournalist of the year, News coverage of the year and International documentary of the year.

Rasmussen has photographed refugees’ lives on a daily basis in eight different countries during his project Transit, photographing victims in America’s drug belt to Syrian refugees journey through Europe. The project won two awards at this year’s World Press Photo awards; Photojournalist of the Year in Picture of the Year 2015, and second place in the prestigious Picture of the Year Internatinal (POYi) 2016 award.

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Image © Tine Poppe

Tine Poppe

Tine is a freelance photographer, mother to Martine Poppe (and Niels and Magnus) and the sister of the Norwegian director Erik Poppe. She has won several international prizes and participated in, among many others, the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, IPA Best in Show Exhibition and Lucie Awards Exhibition at the Climate conference in Paris COP21 that showcases the worlds best photographers within climate and environment.

She is currently showcasing the outdoor exhibition Where Gods Reside in Clervaux, Luxembourg and the traveling exhibition “Ingenmannsland” (No Man’s Land), about refugees in Norway, with the first exhibit outside the Parliament in Oslo. She has previously made several award winning projects on refugees and asylum seekers, drug addicts and environmental issues.

For more information on Nordic Light International Festival of Photography, visit here.

MAY 2017 ISSUE:

Female Gaze: New perspectives from the selfie generation. Charlotte Jansen considers a new generation of female photographers who make women their subject.

It’s available to order online now.

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