The photographer as Renaissance man, as an explorer and reformer of worldviews, is central to the 2018 edition of Fotofestival Schiedam. In our contemporary society, we are overwhelmed by a cacophony of images. A multitude of photos are uploaded and distributed over the net, making everything and anything a subject. It makes the medium of photography hyper-democratic but paradoxically even more speculative and ambiguous for us to comprehend. That’s why we need image makers that cut through the homogeneous clutter, who state in their body of work what’s truly urgent about our world and our society. Visionaries that point out to us that, as Henry David Thoreau would say: what truly matters is not what you look at, but what you see.
This edition marks the quest to explore the value and variety of roles that photography and photographers play as researchers in contemporary society. Simultaneously the festival will look at how photography can be used as a visual methodology in research disciplines such as science, technology, and the humanities. By presenting theme Re: Search, the festival offers a sample card of image makers and researchers whom, partly by their innate drive to opt for unexpected ways of seeing, help define the relationship between photography and the world yet again.
The very best of their work reminds us that a photograph has the power to be infinitely more than a document. Photographers observe their subjects for days, weeks, even years: not only registering but absorbing and visualizing various truths of the experience. This gives us stepping stones into layers of unknown realities and narratives. Immersed in these sequestered worlds they are the scientists, engineers, sculptors, and inventors.
Their personal obsession to delve into the essence of their subject makes it worthwhile for them to embark on laborious and meticulous research, and this often brings them to use cross-disciplinary methods outside the realm of photography. They forgo the snapshot and instead regard their work as a long-term venture between their intuition, their visual literacy and the world on and through the other side of the lens. That results in images that reveal a world, not of sameness but of depth; the difference between a vision and a casual visual statement.