Juror: Hannah Frieser
Early seafaring diaries tell of endless adventures while exploring the vast oceans. They reminisce about the abundance of fish, the mystery, the beauty, but also the dangers and hardships of taking to the sea. Across time and civilizations, water has lost little of its mesmerizing hold on us, inspiring countless paintings, novels and accounts of daring action. The photographers in this exhibition marvel at the magnificence of water in its many manifestations from microscopic ice crystal to endless expanse beyond the horizon, life-sustaining or threatening, gentle and generous, or savagely volatile. When people are present, they are usually submerged for a refreshing swim, as if mere observation from the shores is not enough. Water calls to us with a sweet and irresistible siren’s call. In most image water and nature are shown in harmony, though there are also suggestions of civilization encroaching. Humans, it seems, are called to nature to take in its grandeur, while also becoming its greatest threat.
The exhibition drew an abundance of images that stretched to far corners of the world, yet also discovered adventures in photographers’ backyards. The images celebrate, glorify, immerse and connect. Image after image, we are enticed by nature’s wholesome beauty. While styles and viewpoints stretch the full gamut of highest quality, it is worthwhile to highlight a few of the submissions. The photographs by Juror’s Award recipient Carlos Causo are breathtakingly beautiful. Image after image, the perfect place coincides with the perfect breeze, the perfect sun and the most dramatic sky pattern. The photographs convey a freshness in perspective combined with an overall sense of discovery. It is all too easy to imagine that we too could frolic at these beaches, lazily drift on our floating cushions in the pool, or take our raft into these gentle waves. On the other hand, the photograph by Director’s Award recipient Teresa Meier is one of the few constructed images that has created rather than discovered its vista. This fantastical interpretation suggests mankind’s fraught relationship to nature. A man lies submerged on a scaly seabed, seemingly enjoying the view through a stereo viewfinder. A goldfish, freshly escaped from its glass cage, is compelled toward the lure of another one of steel, suspended tantalizingly by a woman. A storm is brewing, human civilization may be at its end, and yet the sun breaks through the clouds promising a continuation of life.