Themed upon NORDWÄRTS!, or ‘northbound’, the outdoor photography festival is dedicated in 2022 to the northern European region of Scandinavia. In a gigantic open-air gallery – featuring 150 large-format photographs in 28 exhibitions along a length of seven kilometers – several of the world’s greatest photographers from the far north are showcasing their fascinating imagery in the parks, gardens and city center of Baden : “With their vast array of photographic approaches – some exploring the harshness of their environment, others the complexity of our modern developments – they do share a common perspective, blended with poetry, a touch of surrealism here and there, but always with the intention of sharpening consciousness for a better understanding of the world of tomorrow,” according to the festival.
NORDWÄRTS! is an opportunity to highlight the creative intuition of artists from northern Europe who have maintained a special connection to the harshness of their homeland ever since the beginnings of photography. For the inhabitants of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, solitude and the wildness of nature are an essential part of their relationship with the world.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the countries of the north with their economical stability are among the most comfortable nations in which one could possibly live. Paralyzed regularly by frost and cold temperatures, while accustomed to the outdoors, they have developed a centuries-old tradition of political consensus, requiring the disapproval of conflict and the promotion of social development based on the strict preservation of natural resources.
So it’s quite clear how a Swedish teenager like Greta Thunberg was predestined to become the new voice of climate change for the youth of the world: She knows that melting glaciers and icebergs are not all too far from home and that it is all by no means an illusion.
The artists who grant us a very special glimpse of Scandinavia are: Sune Jonsson, Pentti Sammallahti, Tiina Itkonen, Ragnar Axelsson, Tine Poppe, Sanna Kannisto, Erik Johansson, Helena Blomquist, Jonas Bendiksen, Jonathan Nächstrand, and Olivier Morin.
In the second narrative of the festival, two exceptional photographers shed light on the state of our environment: ‘This empty World’ by Nick Brandt is an impressive illustration of a world in which animals, overwhelmed by unbridled human development, have barely enough space to survive. And Mathias Depardon presents in ‘The Tears of the Tigris’ impressive photos of the slow throes of a dying river.
For the first time this year, the festival has a particular focus on female Austrian photographers: Magnum photographer Inge Morath, the doyenne of Austrian photography, Christine de Grancy, and young artist Verena Andrea Prenner with ‘Camping’, a photo project about the unacceptable situation of life in refugee camps.
Lower Austria – constituted as a separate province in 1920 – is turning 100-years-old. To celebrate the occasion, Festival La Gacilly-Baden Photo is honoring its home country with two special works depicting how life was back then in old picture postcards … alongside the work by the only 20-year-old artist Gregor Schörg about the region of wilderness in the Dürrenstein-Lassing Valley and the beauty of untouched nature in one of the largest primeval forests in Central Europe.
The festival catalog NORDWÄRTS! has been published by Edition Lammerhuber. German/English; 17 x 23 cm; 272 pages; 123 photos, soft cover; 24.00 euros.
GoSee : edition.lammerhuber.at//nordwaerts