FOTODOK launches the second edition of the FOTODOK Talent Embassy, designed to support the involvement of 10 emerging photographers from the Netherlands in esteemed international photography festivals across Europe, thanks to Pictoright Fund.
The program aims to help these artists to prepare for the festivals: a team of international experts collaborates with us to refine the selection and presentation of their work and personal profiles. Our goal is for them to travel confidently with an updated portfolio and a compelling pitch. The Talent Embassy extends our successful efforts from the Netherlands to an international level, showcasing talents and connecting them to valuable networks.
We selected ten artists through an Open Call: 5 of them will travel to Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia in Italy from the 24th of April to the 30th of April 2024 and the other 5 to Rencontres d’Arles in France from the 30th of June to the 7th of July 2024.
Specifically targeting emerging photographers based in the Netherlands who graduated between 2016 and 2021 or are self-taught professionals practicing photography for 5 to 10 years, the talent program seeked individuals with a strong focus on socially engaged themes and a dedication to positive collaboration.
As part of the comprehensive pre-festival training program, three preparation meetings are scheduled on January 18, February 29, and March 28, 2024, at FOTODOK in Utrecht. During these sessions, selected artists will delve into nuanced aspects of portfolio development, pitch refinement and communication skills, ensuring they are well-prepared for the intricacies of the global stage.
The jury responsible for the selection process includes Lisanne van Happen, the head of talent development at FOTODOK; Marga Rotteveel,co-founder & director of Docking Station tutor master art-and photography programs, and researcher in Common Economies, who will guide the artists to Arles and connect them with experts in the field. Ilaria Campioli, the curator of the photographic section of Palazzo dei Musei in Reggio Emilia and former curator for the Louvre Museum and Fotografia Europea, is the third jury member.
All submissions have been meticulously evaluated and the jury selected the following ten talented photographers: Chris Becher, Jesper Boot, Emma van Dobben, Mark Rammers and Pippilotta Yerna for Reggio Emilia; Wiosna van Bon, Sebastian Koudijzer, Meshkat Talebi, Oxiea Villamonte and Farren van Wyk for Arles.
Chris Becher possesses a keen sensitivity to diverse cultural settings and social norms. Driven by a deep desire to bring seemingly opposing social landscapes that have molded him (between Europe and the Americas) together, he is actively working on a project titled “Shul.” This project involves a creative dialogue with his mother, his family, and background, intertwining photographs, family album pictures, and gemstones, conveying a field invisible to the human eye. With elements of crystal healing, mysticism, religion, and family narratives, “Shul” delves into the intersections of gender, class, and spirituality. The project explores these relevant topics in an intimate and unique way, shedding light on the stories of women navigating the intricate tapestry of hidden domestic work. The project stands out for its multimedia exploration, intersectionality of themes and presents a fresh approach regarding the relevance to intergenerational dynamics and the interconnectedness of humans and places across space and time.
Jesper Boot has been chosen for his ongoing project, “Own your piece of the sky,” which captures the dynamic landscape around him, with a specific focus on his current neighborhood. Jesper adds a thought-provoking dimension to his work by placing the images back into the very spaces where they were taken. Tapping into significant political and societal narratives, the artist sheds light on the disruptions in the housing market, particularly affecting young individuals across Europe. Jesper is deeply motivated to explore innovative ways of presenting his impactful work, challenging the associations linked to the multiple layers of his research. This project distinguishes itself through a creative blend of photography and spatial elements, cleverly situating images to provide a thought-provoking commentary on a pressing social issue.
Emma van Dobben explores the tension between our idealized connection with the environment and the actual reality we face. Her latest series, ‘Time Wandering,’ delves into the contemporary challenge of being fully present. Drawing on her interdisciplinary background in biology, Emma addresses urgent and relevant issues. Her series reflects a willingness to appreciate details and find beauty in overlooked places, emphasizing how our actions impact the surroundings. With a focus on the ripple effects of small-scale actions on a larger scale, she aims to learn playful ways of presenting her work, being conscious of how presentation influences the perception of her art. “Time Wandering” is a relevant work, weaving an environmental connection, addressing contemporary challenges, employing an interdisciplinary approach through the appreciation for details, and emphasizing the cruciality of our impact in an interconnected world.
Mark Rammers is engaged in a long-term documentary project focused on Tata Steel, one of the central topics in the current Dutch environmental debate. As the largest industrial polluter and the leading emitter of greenhouse gases in the Netherlands, Tata Steel is also the largest employer in the region with over 9,000 employees. Mark’s project reveals his personal connection to the village and its natural surroundings while closely examining the impact of pollution, international policy decisions, and growing tensions on this small community. The goal is to visually express his connection to the place and provide a dignified, unbiased platform for a community grappling with significant changes. The research intimately explores the environmental impact, socio-economic dynamics and personal connections that elevate the nuanced narratives of the community.
Pippilotta Yerna, blending personal history with a sarcastic take on life, is currently exploring the challenges confronted by the elderly in Dutch society, where maintaining one’s existence can appear almost insurmountable. Her project centers on her great aunt, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday on November 25th, using collaborative photography as a medium. Pippilotta emphasizes intimacies and accessibility, capturing universal emotions like grief, happiness, death, and celebration. What sets it apart is Pippilotta’s adept balance between a profound connection to her subject matter and ensuring broad relatability, echoing the essence of connection and European identity that aligns seamlessly with Fotografia Europea’s mission.
Wiosna van Bon tackles contemporary societal issues, including powerlessness, family dynamics, behavior, and identity in her project “The sun doesn’t rise; the earth turns around.” This investigation delves into the stories carried by children of parents who have committed suicide and explores how they reflect on their childhood memories. Van Bon navigates the paradox of remembering a parent’s suicide, showcasing the beauty within memories juxtaposed with trauma. Her objective is to dismantle the stigma surrounding suicide, facilitate communication and enable the expression of both positive and challenging memories. What sets her work apart is a keen awareness of cultural differences in contemporary society and a profound ability to critically question human behavior.
Embarking on a journey through untold stories, Sebastian Koudijzer utilizes his camera to delve into the concept of family, serving as the starting point for his exploration of Javanese-Surinamese history. In the nostalgic project “De Gesuikerde Onderneming / The Sugarcoated Venture,” the artist, along with his brother, accompanies their grandparents back to the places of their memories in Suriname, more than fifty years later. The fusion of photography, poetry, and factual information in a cohesive book further adds to the project’s outstanding quality, creating a multi-dimensional narrative that is both emotionally resonant and historically informative.
Meshkat Talebi investigates the interconnected triangle of body, memory, and language through her project, “The Touch of the Glance.” In this exploration, she captures self-portraits deliberately characterized by blurriness, disrupting conventional notions of sexuality and appearance. The intentional blurriness serves a dual purpose: it establishes a unique spatial dynamic relationship between the photographs and the observer, using Braille, enabling a dual connection with diverse audiences and their varied sensations. Secondly, the project introduces a novel approach to reading a photo through the sense of touch. Her work’s essence matches the approaches and values of the Arles Festival, with their focus on sharing, transmission, and transversality, aligning seamlessly.
Oxiea Villamonte is currently immersed in an artistic research project centered around her parents’ archive. Born in America and raised in the Netherlands, her exploration has led her back to significant places from her family’s past. This project unfolds as a personal and intergenerational healing process for Oxiea. In this intricate journey, she scrutinizes the scripts inherited from her familial past, seeking to uncover both the similarities and differences between her individual background and her family’s heritage.
As part of her creative output, Oxiea is actively working on the development of a book and an accompanying exhibition. Oxiea engages with her roots, not only to understand her personal history but also to contribute to a broader dialogue about identity, heritage, and the interconnectedness of past and present.
Farren van Wyk, born in South Africa and raised in the Netherlands, positions herself at the intersection of diverse cultural influences. Her unique perspective combines South African, Dutch, African American, and Black American cultural aspects in her imagery. Born into a heritage marked by displacement, she confronts the historical legacies of Dutch involvement in colonialism, slave trade, and apartheid in South Africa through her photography. In her project, “Mixedness is my Mythology,” Farren explores the intricate relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands, seeking reconciliation and acceptance of mixed identity and crafting an iconography that contributes to the creation of each family’s mythology.