Denderen, Ad van - SO BLUE SO BLUE -
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So Blue So Blue – Edges of the Mediterranean
Ad van Denderen,
Publication year: 2008
Pages: 272 pages
Booksize: 22.5 x 29cm
So blue so blue. Edges of the Mediterranean
Ad van Denderen
Frits Gierstberg, Prospektor
Kummer & Herman
Steidl & Mack
29 x 22,5 cm
According to the ‘Plan Bleu’ sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, in the next 20 years around 205 million holiday or second homes will be built to accommodate 350 million tourists annually along the coasts of Turkey and Spain alone. This influx of tourism and the return of ‘westernised’ immigrants fuels religious and political radicalization. At the same time it is the fulcrum of major economic changes and ecological pressures.
The starting point of So Blue, So Blue was in 2001 when Van Denderen photographed a group of a hundred illegal immigrants landing on a beach in the south of Spain in rubber boats. Soaked to the skin, they ran off in the early morning light. Three hours later tourists appeared on the same beach, spreading out their towels to enjoy another sunny day. Realising that the region is riven with these inconsistencies, he has spent the past 5 years photographing in every
country that borders the Mediterranean Sea. So Blue, So Blue is his personal attempt to make sense of the immense economic, political, socio-religious and ecological changes taking place around the open space that Europe, Asia and Africa have contested and shared for centuries
While working on his project Go No Go, about migration in Europe, Van Denderen experienced the idiosyncratic effect social-economic developments have had in the Mediterranean landscape. On the south coast of Spain he photographed a group of a hundred illegal immigrants landing on the beach with rubber boats. Soaked to the skin, they ran off in the early morning light. Three hours later tourists appeared on the same beach, spreading out their towels to enjoy another sunny day on the beach. This event was Van Denderen’s starting point from where he meticulously started working his way around the Mediterranean Sea.
What we, the spectators, get to see of these problems is silent proof. Through his, at times surprising images, Van Denderen shows us the presence and movement of groups of people that we never or rarely see in the media. Images of, for example, Russian tourists in Turkey and Egyptian or Korean guest workers in Libya. To be able to catch these images, Ad van Denderen had to make a shift in the approach to his subject. Having previously worked on his extensive documentary projects in black and white with a small format camera and close up to the people he portrayed, Van Denderen chose to photograph in color with a medium format camera. So Blue So Blue thus provides a broader and more detached vision. In a literal and formal sense, Van Denderen focuses on the environment as a whole. Human beings are revealed as actors, without volition, ‘drowning’ in their self-created landscape.
Van Denderen conducted his research into the current situation from the perspective of a genuinely curious, non-interfering (relative) outsider. The portrayal is contemplative, never stigmatising and acts as a buffer against the simplifying portrayal that – in correlation with a hardening political standpoint – dominates the media.
Ad van Denderen (1943, The Netherlands) has worked as a photographer for Vrij Nederland, Stern, NRC Handelsblad, GEO and The Independent magazine, among others. He has received a number of prestigious prizes for his work, including the Visa d’Or at the international photo festival Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan in 2001 and The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts’ (Fonds BKVB) oeuvre prize in 2007/2008. Go No Go, his book on migration in Europe, based on 13 years of work, was published by Actes Sud, Mets & Schilt, Lunwerg Editores, Edition Braus and Paradox in 2003. For the 2008 SteidlMack/Paradox publication So Blue So Blue, Van Denderen photographed the 17 countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Earlier publications include Peace in The Holy Land, a book about Palestine (1997) andWelkom in Suid-Afrika, about apartheid (1991). Ad van Denderen is a member of VU agency, Paris.