So Blue So Blue, edges of the mediteranian - fotojournalistic webdocumentary by Ad van Denderen
Webdesign and programming by Antenna-Men - Paradox 2008 -
In So Blue So Blue, the Dutch documentary photographer Ad van Denderen sketches a very different picture of the region around the Mediterranean from that of sun-drenched beaches, charming hotels, lively discos and azure sea. Between 2003 and 2008, Ad van Denderen travelled regularly through the 17 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. This immense area is under a huge amount of pressure from the fast-growing tourism industry and the political, cultural and religious tensions that the geopolitical location brings with it. Africa, Asia and Europe, Christianity and Islam, rich and poor all come together here.
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.
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 a accompli un beau voyage, une odyssée, à laquelle peuvent rêver tous les amoureux de la Méditerranée : faire le tour des dix-sept pays qui bordent la Mer. Qu'on se rassure pourtant, ici pas de soleils couchants sur des plages de rêve. Van Denderen est un vieux routier du photo-journalisme. Une sorte de prototype du "concerned photographer" qui, depuis les années 1970, a été sur tous les fronts du documentaire social et politique.