I wasn’t prepared to see the photo of Sri Lanka’s stilt fishermen when I opened a Press Release from the Nordic Lights festival announcing that the master of colour photography, Steve McCurry, is coming to the festival in Kristiansund in April.
Superlatives flow freely describing McCurry as “‘Inspiring’, ‘fantastic’, ‘legendary’ and ‘the world’s best documentary photographer!’ I should say our precariously perched stilt fishermen trying to earn a living fishing as the tide comes in are legendary themselves too and are seen as far as I know only on this stretch of the coast.
The meta data in the file of the fishermen released to media gives a citation: National Geographic Magazine. Vol. 191, No. 1, pgs. 110-111, January 1997, Sri Lanka: A Continuing Ethnic War Tarnishes the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. “Fishermen along the southern coast of Sri Lanka cast their lines in the traditional way atop poles so they can work in shallow water without disturbing the fish,” says McCurry describing the image.
Steve McCurry (1950, Philadelphia, USA) became world famous after taking his iconic picture of the refugee girl Sharbat Gula in 1984. “Afghan Girl”, the girl with the emerald eyes, has become the best known picture ever featured in National Geographic. Resembling a Mona Lisa of the refugee world, the photo came to symbolize human endurance.
At the foot of the vast Mehrangarh Fort, one can find the Blue City, a small tightly knit maze of houses located towards the north of Jodhpur. In one of the narrow alleyways a boy flees McCurry’s camera. Balancing three intersecting planes of colour – one of which is covered in stark red handprints – the image pulsates with energy as a young boy dashes through the narrow alleyways.
Many of Steve McCurry’s pictures are perpetual classics that are used on magazine covers and as CD artwork. He has toiled persistently with his exploration of colour, and according to photo critics his documentary work and portraiture have taken colour photography to a completely new level.
Nordic Light’s Artistic Director, Morten Krogvold, is thrilled to have Steve as a guest of honour.
“Steve McCurry is an icon in the prime of life and undoubtedly one of the greatest colour photographers of our time. His pictures exemplify hard work. They display a marvellous tangible quality, as well as intimacy, intensity and a photographic ‘coup d’oeil’ that is exceptional. McCurry uses colours in the same way a painter does, and he has a unique sense of both colour and light. At the same time, there remains something strikingly simple about his work. He has an extraordinary capacity for capturing the gaze of his subjects, which adds an extra veneer of distinctiveness to his pictures.”
(Text and images culled from the Press Release from the Nordic Lights Festival.)
PS: Morton Krogvold is a regular visitor to Drik‘s Chobi Mela festivals and I first had the pleasure of meeting him in 2006. The most popular teacher at Chobi Mela he is an articulate speaker and a dedicated and a gifted teacher. See also: http://chobimela.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/teachers-pride/
The Nordic Light Festival runs from 23 – 27 April. Beyond Pixels – Unfestival of Photography runs from 23 – 24 April. All the exhibitions are on show in Kristiansund during the period 23 April – 5 May.