Spring is the time of year when people around here are planting seeds in their gardens to harvest the crop in the fall. Before anything can grow there has to be someone or something planting that seed. Maybe it’s a coincident, but at this time of year it’s also the Nordic Light International Festival of Photography in Kristiansund – a festival which I believe will make many attendees harvest a rich crop in the future for the life changing moments many experience there.
And what a festival it turned out to be. A festival of inspiration, a festival of feelings, a festival of good stories, a festival of fantastic world class art and world class people. With photographers like Muna Kuhn, Jane Evely Atwood, Sølve Sundsbø, Peter Turnley, John Swannell and several more it was bound to be a really strong festival.
Even though I’m living in the close proximity (Norwegian close proximity is like a 3-4 hour drive) 2017 was the first time attending the Nordic Light festival. In other words – I didn’t know what to expect, but sitting in a chair with tears in my eyes was certainly not expected. Blown away I was. Not by the wind in Kristiansund, but by the powerful images and stories served to us. Telling about everything would take me days, but I can share some of my highlights.
From the first second I was captivated by Jane Evelyn Atwood. Her lecture was free and open to all as a gift to the city for it’s 275 years anniversary – a great gift that was! Some of the work and stories she presented was about prostitutes in Paris, the final days of the dying aids patient Jean-Louis, blind children and females in prison. Truly amazing work by an amazing lady. Stories and pictures which will stay with me forever. Later in the festival she followed up with a up close and personal gallery talk – a good opportunity for the attendees to ask her more about what they wanted to know. Unfortunately for me her book sold out before I could purchase it and having it signed, but those who got it will have a unique story to spend time with after the festival. Anyway, her catalog of ten books will for sure be something which I will dive into later.
The incredible Mona Kuhn was another of the world class artist attending Nordic Light. Her lovely charisma and personality really lit up the conference hall – and so did her unique work. How she works with reflections, nature, colors and the human body is truly outstanding. Leaving the festival with a signed print, a book and some important words to remember was great. When having a little chat with Mona while signing the print and book she told me about how she was hoping to plant seeds with her lesson at NLE, something I’m sure she managed to do. A really inspirational lesson from a great artist. For those with an interest in the artwork of making books, Kuhn’s book itself is truly worth a look just for that. It’s not often I find myself amazed by how the ink feels when touching it with my fingers, or how the paper feels like. The book is made by the legendary Gerhard Steidl, a worldclass printer and designer. Take a look at some Steidl books – you won’t regret that for sure!
Another highlight at NLE – Peter Turnleys lecture. From the minute entering the room there was a really special vibe in the air. Funky music was filling the room and Peter Turnley was dancing on the stage. It was an absolutely unexpected intro to his presentation at the NLE. Unexpected is for certain a good description of his presentation too. His images touched me deep, deep inside. They blew me away. It was great to meet Peter at the bookshop afterwards so I could buy his book – «French Kiss, A Love Letter to Paris». The book is like a pictorial lovestory from and about Paris. It feels like Turnley, with his camera in hand, is dancing his way around in Paris amongst people in love – capturing what seems to be the essence of this city – love and happiness. Turnley has an unique ability to share feelings through his images and to make people feel something when looking at them, and this book is all about the good feelings. A book which makes you feel good. We also got a glimpse of a new project about a series from a barber shop – and what we got to see was pure quality. Can’t wait to see the book if the project turns out to become a book.
Todd Hido and Lene Marie Fossen – the first a well know photographer and the second a new talent – also made impact with their work at NLE. Hido with his urban landscapes and Fossen with her touching portraits and self portraits. Fossen left the audience in tears with her powerful portraits from refugees in Greece. It was amazing to see how she managed to capture and pass on those children’s feelings – portraits which even impressed Peter Turnley who expressed himself with a comment at the end of Fossens lecture.
Now it’s already january and the next edition of Nordic Light International festival of Photography is approaching fast – hopefully I will have time to attend also this year. If you have the chance I absolutely recommend you to visit the festival sometime.