During the winter months Noorderlicht Photogallery is showing the first retrospective exhibition of Jeroen Kramer: Room 103. Kramer has been active for almost ten years in the Middle East as a photojournalist. His photos of the hard news from this region found their way into international media. But Kramer had enough of fast journalistic work. He went in search of intimacy and beauty, and sought refuge in autonomous photography. Together with the book of the same title, Room 103 affords an insight into the complex and schizophrenic reality of a photographer who lives and works in a conflict zone.
After a stay of three years in Syria Jeroen Kramer then lived and worked four years in Beirut. There, and from there as a base, he constantly had opportunities to shoot news images. But Kramer himself saw increasingly less sense in doing so. How often were these photos, taken at great risk, simply used in service of one-dimensional reporting about the region?
Jeroen Kramer reached the point that he no longer could look at his own photographs, and with that could no longer make any more. He was obsessed with the question of what a photograph was really worth. A thousand words, as they say in journalism? Your self-respect? Your name? Your life? No, Kramer concluded, and shifted his role as a photographer from that of a narrator to that of an interrogator. Searching for images of affection, intimacy and beauty in a Middle East torn by conflicts redirected his approach to a more poetic, autonomous way of working. With that his career as a photojournalist came to an end. Room 103 is the result of this inner struggle in which Jeroen Kramer tries to recognise the human weaknesses, aesthetic limitations and remorseless insights of the path he has chosen.
Jeroen Kramer (Amsterdam, 1967) moved to France at the age of nineteen, where he studied law and French literature. In 2001 he became a freelance photojournalist in the Middle East. He reported on the second Palestinian intifada and the American invasion of Iraq.
In addition to the Middle East, Kramer also worked in Africa, Afghanistan, Burma and the Philippines, for Getty Images, De Volkskrant, The New York Times, Vanity Fair and others. His photographs were to be seen in exhibitions such as the Noorderlicht Photofestivals Nazar (2004) and Act of Faith (2007), FotoFest USA 2005 and the exhibition la Vita Nuda, during the 2008 Milan Triennale.
Opening: Friday, 27 November, at 17:00, with Jeroen Kramer present.
Speakers: Ed O’Loughlin, writer, and Ferry Biedermann, Middle East correspondent for the Financial Times and other publications.