Traces & Omens: Noorderlicht

Traces & Omens 2005.
Curated by Wim Melis.
Noorderlicht / Aurora Borealis, Groningen, 2005. 236 pp., Various B&W and Color Illustrations, 9x9¼”.

Noorderlicht_2005The Nooderlicht Photo Festival is now in its twelfth year. Every year the exhibition is based around either a non-western region of the world or coupled to a theme. Nazar, the title of the 2004 exhibition, focused on the Arab world. PDN and Newsweek, among others, named the catalogue one of the best books of the year. The 2005 festival presented a very eclectic grouping of photographs based on ‘time’ and what a photograph can show us. In Traces & Omens, you will find traces of human existence, traces of war, of history and of time. Only a small portion of the work is political, but none so much as the provo-cative cover by German photographer Michael Najjar. He puts his own clever spin on what it means to be “embedded” with the US Army. Ranging from the documentary work of veteran photographer Antonin Kratochvil to the staged narratives of emerging artist Angela Strassheim, the selected work is varied and strong. A special component of the exhibition was dedicated to images taken after the tsunami. A series of images by the Swedish photographer Joakim Eneroth stands out. No devastation is shown—no debris, no dead bodies, no destruction—only water. The power of the ocean lies ominously quiet; with austerity and subtlety, Eneroth reminds us of this traumatic event. – Larissa Leclair

Originally published in the Photo-eye Booklist, Summer 2006.