This winter, in connection with De Poolnacht in Groningen, Noorderlicht presents NomadsLife, by the documentary photographer Jeroen Toirkens (b. 1971). Since 1999 Toirkens has been following the lives of various nomadic tribes in Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and the Arctic region. He discovered that globalisation, poverty and climate change are making it increasingly difficult for them to maintain their traditional way of life. With NomadsLife, which will appear in 2011 in book form, Toirkens creates a diverse and often poignant picture of nomadism in the 21st century.
In 1999 Jeroen Toirkens became fascinated by the nomad families high in Turkey's Bolkar Mountains. He encountered the way of life of the Yörük, who were struggling with the pressures of a modernising Turkey. What were originally their nomadic pastures were being bought up by real estate developers, and many of the young people were departing for life in the cities. After that he visited other originally nomadic peoples who were encountering comparable problems.
For instance, in 2005 and 2006 he and the journalist Jelle Brandt Corstius spent time with the Sámi and the Nenets in Russia. Before the Soviet era family units from these tribes were constantly on the move with their herds. Under the Soviet regime they were forced to become workers on collective farms, the kolchoses, a policy from which they are still suffering the consequences. Most recently Toirkens visited Barrow in Alaska, the centre for traditional whaling. There the nomadic life has already made way for a settled lifestyle.
The exhibition in the Noorderlicht Photo Gallery draws from a decade of photography, focusing particularly on Toirkens's reportage from the polar regions.
Jeroen Toirkens (Netherlands, b. 1971) studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague, and since 1995 has been working as a free-lance photographer. He focuses particularly on social documentary photography and has published photo essays in Trouw, de Volkskrant, Internationale Samenwerking and De Standaard, among other sources. In 2009 he received the first prize in The Silver Camera in the foreign documentary category, for a series on Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland.
As a component of De Poolnacht in Groningen, a public event designed to draw attention to the polar areas among the people of the northern Netherlands, Toirkens and Jelle Brandt Corstius also be presented a lecture in the Stationshal in Groningen on 17 December. More information about De Poolnacht van Groningen can be found on: www.depoolnacht.nl
Opening 25 November
The exhibition opened on Thursday, 25 November, at 5:00 p.m. by Diederik Veerman, curator and educator in cultural anthropology at the Museon in The Hague.