Short interview with curator Wim Melis

dd March 2011

A couple of weeks ago you judged the World Press Photo contest. You have probably seen a mountain of images. How do you keep your head fresh for the next big project: the Noorderlicht Photofestival?

Well, once they’ve climbed a mountain, climbers usually can’t wait to get on the next one. You do need a few days to clear your head, but then you get into the flow of things again quickly. Plus, WPPh is sort of a parallel organisation, kindred souls but at the same time different. It's stimulating to be forced to look at pictures in a different way than you're used to.

This year’s festival is called Metropolis – City Life in the Urban Age. Last year the festival focused on the changing countryside, which is pressured by growing urbanism. Can you tell what stories you are looking for this year that have been visualised by photographers?

Cities are multifaceted. Even though they're at the heart of modern society, they don't have one distinct character. They can be looked at in many ways, depending on what part of society you look at, what part of the world, at individuals or the collective, economics or social issues, the place of the observer, etcetera. You could view the concept of 'city' as something with literally multiple personalities. Which is the idea behind the exhibition: to bring to the forefront these multiple personalities. So I'm looking for series that are about a multitude of topics, but that really communicate with the viewer as being a 'persona', a distinct character that in turn becomes a metaphor for larger issues.

Noorderlicht Photofestival 2011
11 September through 9 October 2011, Groningen
opening September 10th (by invitation only)

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