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Pride Photo Queering Nijmegen

by Helm de Laat in Theatre, Art & Expo , 05 september 2015


Last year, the organizer of Pink Wednesday, Sander Ederveen, was approached to do something in Nijmegen with all the photos that are archived for the Pride Photo Award. And while Amsterdam is preparing for the 2015 award, people are looking back on the successful first edition of Pride Photo Nijmegen.

Sander Ederveen himself is surprised about its success. “It all got a little bit out of hand. Of course we wanted to show the winning photographs in Nijmegen, and not just at obvious places, such as the Pink House or City Hall. That is how we quickly got the idea for an on-the-road exhibition, which later became the Pride Photo Bus.

One thing led to another. The photos for the Pride Photo Award became the reason for starting new initiatives at the crossroads of photography and Pride.” Or, as the project plan is phrased so elegantly: “We want to give an impulse to the city’s visual culture (...) and contribute to improving the image of gender and sexual diversity.”

Changed Representation

To give an overview of visual homosexual culture, the exhibition “Vroeger en Nu” (Past and Present) was organized in the Pink House. In 1990, local photographers An Stalpers and Ineke Duursema created the series “Het kan ook anders...” (It can also be different...). In the series, they expressed their vision of homosexuality. They did not want to “show the problematic side, but the pride, lust for life, and beauty.” They did not just want do document, but also inspire. Present day photographers were asked to respond to their photos. Together, the pictures showed a change in representation and imagery over the last twenty-five years. Parties and children are still popular subjects. The young and white movement of the past has quickly become older and more colorful. However, the globalization of homosexuality has also expanded the horizon in Nijmegen. The new letter T in the gay alphabet is clearly present. It reflects changes in the way we see gender, something that can also be seen in the winning photos of the Pride Photo Award. Just as in those photos, the naked body seems to have disappeared, as is photography that explores the borders between gender and sexuality or new expressions of sexual diversity. For queer photography, one had to be in the Besiendershuis.

Queering Nijmegen

Photographers Risk Hazekamp and “Wortkünstlerin” Tania Witte were asked to stay in the Besiendershuis at the invitation of the Institute for Gender Studies, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. They turned the official visitor’s rooms into a cultural calling card of the city and a queer laboratory with the motto “Try a different search...” Both artists are researching how people who aren’t part of a GLBT subculture are shaping their identity. In their queer laboratory, they invited all sorts of people while trying to find out how they shape their identity in Nijmegen.

Risk Hazekamp held a series of guest lectures on this subject to students of the institute and organized a workshop on image. And in their laboratory in the Besiendershuis, Tania Witte held a series of workshops in queer writing. The participants presented their work at pop up performances, filling in the gaps of common tales of the city with their lines. In October, both artists will return to present the result of this special interdisciplinary experiment.

Pushing Boundaries

That in visual culture the differences between disciplines become blurred also became clear when producing some clips. Those who expected some innovative imagery were disappointed, but the stories were pioneering. In these productions, Pride Photo Nijmegen collaborated with several organizations engaged in youth culture. In cooperation with the Foundation Pop Activities Nijmegen, a clip was made in which young singer songwriter Mischa Das is performing. He sings a song about his own adventures with gender transgression.

New Arts is a hip hop youth club, a culture that is mostly in the news when “battie boys” and “bitches” get it in the neck. These young people risked their necks with the production of a clip with Ishwana Clarke. Ishwana fled to The Netherlands some years ago. He is performing as a word artist and penetratingly narrates about his homosexuality and homophobia on Jamaica. He visited the youth festival Sparks with the Pride Photo Bus. During the day, the bus was a gender free zone where young people could play around with gender and were photographed. In the evenings, Ishwana would perform for the hip hop scene. On Facebook you can see that both the fake moustaches and the clips were a hit.

Pink Wednesday - Photo Competition

For the city of Nijmegen, Pink Wednesday is what the Canal Parade is for Amsterdam. The Four Day Walking Event and the summer parties were often marred by violence against gays, women and ethnic minorities. A close cooperation between the gay movement and the local authorities came about after riots near a gay bar in 1983 got completely out of control. The entire city is colored pink on Pink Wednesday, and everyone is taking part. Nowadays, the motto is “A party for everyone.” This year, the drag queens and asylum seekers reminded us that such a party of sexual diversity does not come out of thin air.

They met each other, somewhat ill at ease, at the Pink House, before heroically and high-heeled moving into the city. The drag queens were collecting for the Pride Fonds, and African asylum seekers were collecting autographs for the campaign “Enkeltje Rusland, No Way!” (One Way Russia, No Way!), the campaign for a more lenient asylum policy for Russian refugees. It was the perfect setting for a photo competition. Newspaper “De Gelderlander,” which had turned the queer laboratory in the Besiendershuis into temporary editorial offices, was mostly responsible for the organization of the competition. The Pride Photo Award provided the main theme: Stories of Love and Pride. Everyone could enter, and the photos are presented on the website of the newspaper. They show that when familiar locations and old traditions get new meaning, they inspire new images.

Rainbow Steps

Whenever the rainbow gets a fixed location in public space, it is news - still! -, with photos traveling all over the world. Few people know the Veerpoort steps in Nijmegen, but everyone can tell you where the Rainbow Steps are. Even though they have only been there some months. This is where the asylum seekers, the big shots, the drag queens, the battie boys, and their many guests, queer and straight, gathered this Pink Wednesday.

Mayor Hubert Bruls, who’s always in for a joke, captured the moment as the go-ahead for the photo competition. Is it a coincidence that his photo was one of the winning ones? That as it may, his photo was quickly used all over the world. And the rainbow steps? It turns out they are also a great location for wedding pictures. Thanks to Pride Photo Nijmegen.


The award ceremony Pride Photo Award 2015 takes place September 18
location: the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam.
More info at www.pridephotoaward.org.

Some links
* PPN Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Pride-Photo-Nijmegen/299179323539737
* To the clips: www.youtube.com/channel/UCFQ-DnzOrdyvJCunvnEmHmw
* The photo album of the Gelderlander: www.gelderlander.nl/multimedia-dg/foto-s/fotoalbum-pride-photo-nijmegen-7.870418
* More: www.pridenijmegen.nl



 







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