A Closer Look At Terra Cognita: Noorderlicht International Photofestival

Last week we showed you a trailer from the up and coming Terra Cognita Photography Exhibition at the Noorderlicht International Photofestival.

Here, is a selection of some of the photography exhibited, taking a closer look into the concerns and focus of the artists.

The 19th and possibly final edition of the Noorderlicht International Photofestival transcends photographic genres to sketch a picture of the relation between man and nature. The result is nothing less than a declaration of love: a challenging, visually breathtaking exhibition that stimulates the mind and moves the heart at the same time. Terra Cognita is a photographic journey in six chapters, with work which spans a range including landscape photography, documentary photography, art photography and computer generated images. The exhibition includes the work of around 100 photographers from The Netherlands and other countries from rising young photographers to established names. For the first time Noorderlicht is moving to an exhibition site outside the city for the festival: the main location is the Museum Belvédère.

1. Father and Son at Grand Canyon, 2007, Confabulation Series (2007-2010), Toni Hafkenscheid
Nature, Toni Hafkenscheid tells us, almost always comes across as artificial. It is as if it has been transplanted directly from the model railway he has as a child. Hafkenscheid associates the North American landscape with the trees of cotton wool and cardboard mountains through which his trains used to run. In Confabulation he tries to give the real the appearance of artificiality. For that he uses tilt-shift lenses, which, because he uses them the ‘wrong way around’, offer him the possibility of having only a small slice of the landscape in sharp focus, leaving the rest of the image fuzzy.

2. No title, My Own Wilderness series, 2011-2012, Patricia van de Camp
The world is changing at tremendous speed. We’re no longer used to live with or within the wild. Nature has become an object in a museum. Animals are being framed and exhibited, protected by fences and laws. In her work Patricia van de Camp shows the lost intimacy between man and nature; the desire to get closer to nature, and engage with nature in a playful way, not fearing the vulnerability and defenselessness that are always just around the corner. We humans still long for a lost sense of harmony with nature. Patricia reminds us of this desire in a confronting way. She doesn’t ignore the silence of death, and even plays around with the life that death still invokes.

3. Amalur 2, 2009, Amalur (Basque Country) series, 2007-2012, Jon Cazenave
Basque Country has been inhabited since prehistoric times by the Basques. Collected by mountains, this corner of Europe has served as a refuge to a rooted culture that is still alive in the 21st century. Here, nature, history and legend come together with unusual force creating a land of myths and magic that Jon Cazenave explores through photography. The landscape is the starting point to create a visual imaginary in which trees and animals are humanized creating a symbolic world that Jon Cazenave uses to reach the soul of the Basques.

4. Danube Day, Danube series, 2012, Catherine Nelson
The series Danube comprises of floating worlds, meticulously composed with thousands of assembled details. Visual poetry, nature photography and digital techniques blend together to give shape to these transcendental landscapes. The result is a contemporary pictorial mythology that subtly reminds the viewer of a profound truth: that it is in the flourishing variety of the local that the fate of the world resides.

5. Untitled, In Plain Air ,USA series, 2011 – present, Irina Rozovsky
When it was designed in 1867 Prospect Park, in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, was the first American public park, accessible for all social classes. In her long-running project In Plain Air Irina Rozovsky photographs the park so that the surrounding city is no longer visible. She underscores the function of the park as an oasis of peace in hectic urban life, a place where people, albeit for only a short time, can come in contact with nature and can experience private, transcendent moments.

6. Firoza Bibi, 2008, Vanishing Islands series, 2008, Sumit Dayal
The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove swamps in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are under threat from rising sea levels. Sumit Dayal photographed the inhabitants of this area, who are being forced to move inland because their islands are being swallowed by the water. Four islands have disappeared into the sea in the last quarter century, leaving 6000 families homeless. Other islands, including Sagar, the largest island, are rapidly seeing their size decrease.

Terra Cognita, Noorderlicht International Photofestival, 2nd September until 7th October, Museum Belvédère, Oranje Nassaulaan 12, Heerenveen, Netherlands. www.noorderlicht.com


1. Father and Son at Grand Canyon, 2007, Toni Hafkenscheid, courtesy the artist & Birch Libralato Gallery, Toronto
2. No title, Patricia van de Camp, courtesy the artist
3. Amalur 2, 2009, Jon Cazenave , courtesy the artist
4. Danube Day, Catherine Nelson, courtesy the artists & Galerie Paris-Beijing
5. Untitled, Irina Rozovsky, courtesy the artist
6. Firoza Bibi, 2008, Sumit Dayal, courtesy the artist