So Blue, So Blue - Edges of the Mediterranean is the title of a major work by Dutch photographer Ad van Denderen (*1943), exploring the seventeen countries that fringe the Mediterranean. In recent years, this region has become the playground of the wealthy industrialized world. Yet this one-sided view of its azure waters, sandy beaches and tourist resorts ignores the social, economic and political changes that have been wrought by globalization. With So Blue, So Blue, Ad van Denderen seeks to give a rather more balanced view of the Mediterranean region. Addressing the globalisation-related issues that affect all the Mediterranean countries (tourism, ecology, migration, criminality, terrorism, religion, corruption, etc.), he has succeeded in portraying the Mediterranean region as a cohesive and close-knit area in spite of all its diversity.
At the same time, So Blue, So Blue breaks the conventional mould of photojournalism. Ad van Denderen's documentary photographs are a far cry from the lurid and judgemental images of catastrophe that feed the news tickers through the internet. Using a medium format camera, he takes pictures that demand lengthy preparation and research. His photographs are the result of intense and sensitive observation conducted over a period of five years, yet they are never patronising. They give the viewer a glimpse behind the scenes of the Mediterranean playground cliche. The unspectacular things and situations they show all bear witness to the causalities, commonalities and contradictions of a region that, for centuries, has straddled the cultural divides of Europe, Africa and the Near East, revealing the cracks in the social and political structures.
The exhibition was curated by Bas Vroege and organized by Paradox (Edam NL).
We thank the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam; the National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development, Amsterdam; the Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, Amsterdam; Eyes on Media, Amsterdam, as well as the Royal Dutch Embassy for their support.
Sunday, 1 March, 11.30 am: Artist's talk with Ad van Denderen.