Ad van Denderen. So Blue, So Blue – Edges of the Mediterranean
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 industrialised 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 globalisation.
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 judgmental 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 patronizing. They give the viewer a glimpse behind the scenes of the Mediterranean “playground” cliché. 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 realised in Winterthur by Urs Stahel. A collaboration with Paradox. Edam.