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Reinout van den Bergh – curator and photographer

‘The best of times, the worst of times’ what does it mean for you as a curator to work on such a theme while the world around you is in chaos?

As Charles Dickens described it; the best, the worst, the wisdom, the foolishness, faith, unbelief, light, darkness, hope and despair. Everything has a downside. By making this visible you become aware.

The theme ‘the best of times the worst of times’ appeals to me. Especially now. The theme was designed by my fellow curator Geert in January 2019. We always look for a social theme that matches current events. If we think back, the theme matched the political and social circumstances at that time. But now in these “corona times” the theme is … “bull’s eye”. At the time, of course, we had no idea that the world would be turned upside down in 2020. ”

Can you tell us more about the production of the exhibitions? How do you work as a curatorial team? How do you decide what to show and how does the design for the exhibitions come about?

“After we have ‘hit the theme’ together with the core team, I will get to work together with Geert and our Associated Curators. Worldwide we scout for photographers and their work. Our gaze, pricked ears and our “gut feeling” are on edge. We collect photographers separately and together and ultimately we make a selection in consultation. Which works or series raise questions? Which works or series provide answers? Or what remains unanswered? Placing this next to or opposite each other creates an interesting blend with regard to the theme. A field of tension arises within this. Then Jan (our Art Director) gets to work. He makes the designs for the presentations. He does this in a very careful and visual way, which gives the works a spatial dimension and substantive layer. ”

Besides being a curator for BredaPhoto, you are also a photographer. What do you think is the role of photography in our society?

“Through photography you stimulate people to look at the world in a different way. We all live on the same planet and we have to run it together. With the photographic interpretations you try to inform them through your exhibition and you hope it gives food for thought. That awareness that I was talking about. That is also one of the reasons that the BredaPhoto outdoor exhibitions are essential for me so that everyone can experience it, including people who are not likely to visit a museum. Hopefully we will stimulate them to do so and that they will visit the indoor locations.”

You are the driving force behind the BredaPhoto International Talent Program. Wat makes working with young up-and-coming talent so fascinating for you?

“It is fantastic to be able to spar with students about the work and methods they are discovering and developing. Inspiring back and forth. Because the 10 academies we work with are spread throughout Europe, as a curator you get a view through the eyes of “Young Europe”. This also makes it interesting for me as a curator. In order to be able to combine the selected works of the young talents with the works of the professionals, BredaPhoto makes a real festival. It is disarming to see how the students commit to our festival. ”

Are there other photography festivals abroad in which you see an exemplary role for BredaPhoto and if so, which festivals and why?

“Festival Images Vevey in Switzerland on Lake Geneva was a great experience for me and my colleague Tino a few years ago. Since they also pay a lot of attention to their large-scale outdoor exhibitions and keep surprising their visitors with innovative ways of exhibiting. Les Rencontres de Arles is always nice to visit because, especially in the opening week, it is a rencontres of “the photography world” so that as a curator I can talk to many colleagues in a efficient way and scout special exhibitions, photographers and publications. The character of a festival, which breathes art and photography throughout the city throughout the summer, is a feast for me.”