Review by Kremena Nikolova-Fontaine. Photo courtesy of the Icelandic Press Photographers Association.
The Kópavogur Art Museum, Gerðarsafn, is currently hosting the 9th annual exhibiton of the Icelandic Press Photographers Association where 133 photographs were chosen out of 1,000 entries and divided into seven categories: News, Sport, Portrait, Magazine, Landscape, Daily Life and Photo Series.
Press Photograph of the Year by Kjartan Þorbjörnsson.
Personally, I am not much into Sports and I almost skipped this section with light-speed. However, I appreciate the courage and determination of sportsmen and the great skill it takes to capture precious fleeting moments with the lens of a camera.
The Daily Life category I find entertaining. This is the kind of timeless photography which resembles any other annual exhibition. Perhaps it is also the most difficult type of photography as it is the result of an endless hunt for combination of an outstanding artistic composition, moment of time, participants and narration (and without being staged!).
In many ways, the Photo Series could be an extension of Daily Life, but maybe a more forgiving option where the elements of the story don’t need to be told in a single shot. I particularly enjoyed the black-and-white Reykjavík Blues series at Café Rosenberg by Kristinn Ingvarsson, which are an elegant portrayal of both the event’s atmosphere and its participants.
I can enjoy Landscape photography, but normally too much romanticism of sunsets, fogs and snowy mountains gives me a yawn. However, Gunnar Andrésson’s angry sea at the Reykjavík Harbour, which seems to be almost crashing into the Harpa Concert Hall in the background gave me goose bumps. The contrast of nature’s force versus the cityscape is anything but boring. It looks like an apocalyptic Hollywood movie, but the scary part is that it’s totally real!
Environment Photo of the Year by Gunnar Andrésson.
I spent the most time examining each photograph from the Portrait and Magazine categories, trying to savour the flavor of this most delicious eye-candy as slowly as possible.
This type of photojournalism is not as challenging as Sports, Daily Life and News because the photographer has more time and choice in the picture arrangement, but it is also the closest to pure artistic photography.
Haraldur Jónasson’s unusual portrait of singer Högni Egilsson from the band Hjaltalín got stuck in my memory like a knife. What seems to be a therapeutic bath with sticky green color, also resembles a pool of wet concrete poured over the singer’s body and is symbolic for his battle with mental disorder.
Portrait of the Year by Haraldur Jónasson.
I also enjoyed Ernir Eyjólfsson’s portrait of Atli Fannar Bjarkason, manager of the political movement Björt framtíð (‘Bright Future’). In a visual illusion, Atli seems to be floating in the air against an almost invisible gray wall in the background. His bodily position resembles the red traffic light next to him. Personally, I see the composition as an allusion to the name of the movement.
Indisputably, the best portrait and photograph of this exhibition does not belong to the Portrait section and rightfully deserves the title: ‘Photograph of The Year’.
Kjartan Þorbjörnsson’s ingenious angle of shooting the reflected image of Iceland’s Minister of Industries and Innovation Steingrímur J. Sigfússon through the glasses of President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at the opening of parliament also adorns the cover of the exhibition’s catalogue.
The category, which moved me the most, of course, was the News section where the making of history is documented. My heart skipped a beat each time I looked at Eggert Jóhannesson’s photograph of the first woman inaugurated as Bishop of Iceland since 1056, Agnes Sigurðardóttir.
If you don’t care about history, the pretty sight of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes taking a stroll and holding hands in downtown Reykjavík, as captured in Júlíus Sigurjónsson’s photograph, might melt your heart. Unfortunately, the couple separated shortly after their visit to Iceland.
The exhibition Press Photographs of The Year 2012 runs until April 28, 2013.
Kremena Nikolova-Fontaine – kremenan (at) gmail.com
Kremena Nikolova-Fontaine is a passionate collector of art books, dedicating every spare moment to learn more about art while dreaming about having an exhibition of her own. She studied graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in Akureyri from 1999 to 2002. In college she realized that she didn’t want to be a designer or commercial artist but rather an illustrator and writer. At the moment she’s experimenting with her first graphic novel.