2018 Nikon-NOOR Belgium Masterclass

I am just a scenic spot

2018 Nikon-NOOR Belgium Masterclass

Between the 19th to 22nd of March 2018, the Nikon-NOOR Masterclass took place at GeoPolis, Brussels. Sixteen visual storytellers came together for an inspiring four days of learning and sharing with NOOR photographers Sanne De Wilde, Benedicte Kurzen and Pep Bonet and the NOOR team represented by Clement Saccomani.

During the four intensive days, the group reviewed and shared their portfolios, listened to presentations by the photographers, held in-depth discussions on practical and creative issues, and edited their visual stories. Below you will find a showcase of the participants’ work.

The masterclass has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Nikon Europe.

Valentin Bianchi

 

Humanity is not pity

Since the dismantling of the Calais Jungle on February 29th, 2016, no European plan has been created to provide effective assistance to migrants. Facing of the influx of migrants into the northern region of France and Belgium, the language has been hardened. Police no longer hesitate to prevent the creation of new camps by burning and tearing the tents and sleeping bags of migrants. Tired of seeing this political inaction, a small group of Belgian and French citizens are mobilizing and organizing aid through harvests of clothing, food, shoes or blankets to support these humans who are trying to find a better life. Migrants still have the same target, try to cross to UK. Normally, the crime of solidarity no longer exists, but in reality police prevent anyone from helping migrants. A blurring settles around this situation. Aid and accommodation for migrants is now considered illegal. Not hesitating to brave the risks, a small group of citizens try to provide as much help as possible. Story in progress, started in February 2018 between France and Belgium.

Valentin Bianchi

Valentin Bianchi (Belgium, 1978) is a freelance photojournalist based in Liège, Belgium, close to Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France. Between work on long-term issues, he also regularly shoots current affairs and portraits for wire agencies, newspapers and magazines. After having studied architecture and worked in various architecture firms, architecture influences now his photographic eye. Valentin is represented by Studio Hans Lucas and Visura.

 
 

Claudia Cuomo

 

Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers is referred to the battle symbol of 50-60s war, starting migratory flux from Algeria to France. Currently about 200,000 Algerians live in Marseille, a city in which we can see a certain melancholy towards the land of origin, and a certain pride for their presence on territory, now at 2nd and 3rd generation. Inhabitants of Marseilles also for decades, people of Maghreb have always been considered as passing, a statement that has led to a greater estrangement and claim for traditional values, as an ongoing winning of that battle. During an engagement party a very young couple, guests and relatives show that there's nothing warmer and joyful than celebration of culture, folklore, dancing and tradition from their homeland.

Claudia Cuomo

Claudia Cuomo is a photographer from Naples, based in France. She started taking pictures during street demonstrations across Italy and Spain, having her first feature on Repubblica with a reportage about Indignados. Eventually, she completed her PhD with a Thesis in Post-colonialist studies about the ethics of war and photojournalism. At the same time, she started approaching portrait and lifestyle photography, taking part in collective exhibitions, featuring some online magazines and working as a set photographer for documentaries. in 2017 she is the winner of EnGENDERed contest by British Council of Israel and she has her first exhibition in International Photography Festival of Tel Aviv. She is interested in storytelling and community issues.

 
 

Brecht De Vleeshauwer

 
 

Welcome, But not too much

Worldwide, more than 65 million people are fleeing from war, terror, poverty or climate changes. An all time record. Although only a small percentage of these refugees make their way to Europe, the political discourse on migration and refugees hardly gets away from the sphere of “an evil to overcome collectively, which should be stopped as much as possible”. In an almost impossible spread between a humane asylum policy and hermetically sealed external borders, European leaders are doing everything they can to curb the flow of migration towards Europe. In an attempt to lock up the European back door, billion deals are made with shadowy regimes to stop the refugee flow. And while West European leaders are the first to ridicule Donald Trumps border wall they seem to forget that at the same time no effort is spared to build new border barriers on the European continent. 'Welcome. But not too much.” is a sketch of the current situation on the Balkan Peninsula, two years after the so called closure of the infamous 'Balkanroute'. A reality of intensive border control,newly built border fences and stranded refugees with only one goal. Europe. This report was produced with the support of Fonds Pascal Decroos

Brecht De Vleeshauwer

Brecht (°88) is a Belgian photographer and journalist. After studying radio at Artevelde University College in Ghent (Be) and anthropology at the ISCSP in Lisbon (PT) he became more devoted to tell stories in a visual way which evolved in several photographic projects. Nowadays he works mainly on autonomous projects covering social issues.

 
 

Claudia Gori

 
 

The Sentinels: electrosensitivity in Italy

With the spreading of wireless technology, the world’s population is increasingly exposed to highfrequency electromagnetic fields. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 3% of the world's population suffer from Electrosensitivity (ES), a non-recognized disease characterized by hypersensitivity to high and low electromagnetic radiations. ES is characterized by a wide range of symptoms that may involve the nerves and cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal and neurologic systems. In Italy the statistics are alarming and the percentage of sick people is estimates around 4% of the population. Even though EHS is non recognized by the WHO, more and more people suffer from this disease and are forced to radically change their lives and to a partial or complete isolation from society. These people are called sentinels because they’re considered the ones who feel today what will potentially become a widespread phenomenon in the next years.

Claudia Gori

Claudia Gori graduated in Journalism at La Sapienza University in Rome and she studied photography at the CSF Adams in Rome. In 2014 she attended the International Program Advanced Visual Storytelling at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, Denmark. Her pictures appeared in publications such as CNN Photo Blog, The Wall Street Journal, Grazia Italia, R2 La Repubblica and have been exhibited in Italy and abroad. In 2016 she’s nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass of The World Press Photo. In 2017 she’s among the finalist of the Pesaresi Award and in 2018 she’s shortlisted at the Sony World Photography Award in the Contemporary Issue. She’s part of Sedici a group of free-lance photographers promoting activities about contemporary photography. She’s currently working as free lance photographer in Italy focusing on personal projects and stories about psychological and social conditions of people.

 
 

Judith Helmer

 
 

Identically Different

The phenomenon of identical people who originate and have grown from a single cell is fascinating. This story is about an identical twin, born on 20 July 1996. They are 'mono-mono' twins, not only sharing the womb but also one amniotic sac and a single placenta. Two people cannot be more identical than that. They grew up in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and pretty much the only physical difference between them when they grew up was 3 cm difference in height. While others always treated them as 'one'; they knew from a young age all too well how different they were. I met them shortly after one of them had surgery, in the beginning of 2016. After a process of years one of them made the profound decision to follow his long-felt, true identity… Laura became Laurens. This choice led to both Laurens and Yentl having to discover who they really are, as an individual and as twins. I followed them through the process of self-discovery and claim for identity. The project is still ongoing and I will continue documenting their lives. The youth picture that is part of the series is sole property of the family of Laurens and Yentl.

Judith Helmer

Judith Helmer (1982) is a Dutch documentary photographer who is fascinated with personal stories that involve questions about identity, roots and family history. She graduated from the University of Applied Photography in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2017. Her ongoing graduation project ‘Identically Different’ was subsequently published in NRC (Dutch newspaper) and part of it will be shown at two photo festivals in Paris and Nantes in 2018. She was selected for the partnership with RATP and therefor one photo of this series is shown at four different metro stations in Paris for a period of three months in 2018. The project has also received an honorable mention in the International Photography Awards 2017. She has won the Keep an Eye Fotovakschool Grant 2017 with a sequel of her Graduation Project, the project plan ‘Family Matters’, which she is currently working on.

 
 

Alix Jacops

 
 

XXX

Alix Jacops is working on a project about the porn industry; a world which is known for being fake. A porn set is a built-up world, whether or not in a real existing environment. In this setting actors are being placed, who play a role of a fictive character, so the spectator can relate to the story. The photographer wants to capture this staged world of pornography without showing the explicit actions. If you take these away, the porn industry has a lot of resemblances with the advertisement industry. Both worlds focus on perfection and beauty and try to sell a product to their customer. In both worlds there’s also a big focus on the setting to create a ‘real life’ situation. In the images you can feel the detachment between subject and environment because the environment is temporary and has been adjusted for a certain purpose.

Alix Jacops

Alix Jacops is studying at the Academy of Royal Arts in Ghent. At the end of June she obtains her master degree in photography. The photographer has a background in studio photography, where she used a more graphic approach. You can still feel this studio background in her documentary photography nowadays. The focus in her pictures lays on framing, colors and use of light.

 
 

Andrea Mantovani

 
 

Bialowieza Forest - The Song of Swan

On the border of Belarus in the far Northeastern part of Poland lies one of the oldest natural forests in Europe, the primal forest named Białowieża. As though cut off from the rest of the world, the concerns of modern society seemed almost absent until recent times. The beginning of 2016 marked a new era for the forest as it rapidly became one of the most widely broadcasted environmental conflicts in Europe. The ancient forest, having been protected by European legislation and UNESCO as a biosphere reserve and world heritage site since 1979, was now being threatened by logging. A group of environmental activists living in the forest has been one of the only defence mechanisms against the devastation of this illegal logging, who over the past two years have encountered 187 lawsuits against them. In July of 2017, the court of Justice of the EU ordered an immediate stop to the logging happening in areas protected by the Natura 2000 network. A fine of 100,000 Euros per day is imposed on the Polish government until the logging ceases to continue. Logging continued until December 2017.

Andrea Mantovani

With a geography background, I travelled through Europe working on environmental and social issues. In 2015, I decided to devote myself professionally to photography. I incorporate both an assortment of technology and personal writings to trigger an intimate approach to my subjects. My goal is to challenge the reality that society claims, and instead, reflect on the natural interactions of humans and territory. A cross between a documentary and an author's work, I work for international press and personal project. My photographic essays have led to live in Canada, Jamaica, Mexico and Poland. Since 2016, she is member of HANS LUCAS.

 
 

Pauline Niks

 
 

I am just a scenic spot

In her project “I am just a scenic spot” Pauline wants to make the observer doubt reality. The project is about copied architecture in China. The photographs are taken with the same aesthetic standards used in postcards. The landmark seems to be the only subject of importance in the photo. In this way she totally denies any context in which the landmarks might be situated. By presenting them like this on postcards Pauline creates a new identity for these landmarks that is totally convincing. This new identity is reinforced by the way in which she displays them: in a postcard mill. A postcard as evidence of the existence of a place or as a way for people to show to their family that they really visited the place. Pauline uses the same evidence that is always associated with photography and the way we accept it, as a representation of reality. In this selection you will also see photo’s of people copying poses that tourist often use in their way to experience the landmark through photography.

Pauline Niks

Pauline Niks was born in Warnsveld, the Netherlands, in 1982. She lives and works in Amsterdam. In 2004 she graduated from her studies in painting and in 2017 she got her master degree in Photography. Over the years Pauline joined several exhibitions. She won awards and got funds like the Buning Brongers award, Lens culture emerging talent award, Prins Bernard cultuurfonds fund, and got selected for the TIFF. Magazine by the FOMU in Antwerp. Next to her own projects, Pauline works as photographer for the Dutch Newspaper De Volkskrant

 
 

Lavinia Parlamenti and Manfredi Pantanella

 
 

I KICK, THEREFORE I AM

What if you were the best football player in your homeland, but you had no chance to confront international players?

CONIFA (Confederation Of Independent Football Associations) was founded on the 7th of June 2013, and its members are football teams representing unrecognized states, ethnic groups, islands and “frozen conflict” zones from all over the world. It organized the first World Football Cup in June 2014 in Ostersund, Sweden. Some of the teams want to raise awareness of their unique culture, while others hope for greater autonomy and perhaps, one day, even a nation of their own. In this sense, having a football team is one of the first steps toward their goal - and also the only opportunity to play in an international tournament. Since 2014, Parlamenti and Pantanella have been following the everyday life of the Confederation, focusing on the paradoxical effects generated by geopolitics, with the intention of exploring the imaginary border between what does officially “exist” and what doesn’t, using sports as their main narrative device.

Lavinia Parlamenti and Manfredi Pantanella

Lavinia Parlamenti and Manfredi Pantanella met each other in Tahrir Square at the end of 2011, during the second wave of the so called egyptian Revolution. Their collective research mainly focuses on geopolitical paradoxes and aims to combine documentary photography with the dimension of surreal and fantastic. Meeting point of their different personalities is, with no doubts, a common ironical approach to life (therefore to photography) and the great value that they give to imagination inside reality. Their first collective project, “Roundabout#Cyprus” (2012), has been exhibited in several Festivals and photobook festivals across Europe (Roma, Paris, Riga, Kassel, Athens). In the last years, Lavinia and Manfredi also realized several editorial works in Italy, Europe and the Middle East, collaborating with newspapers and magazines as LaRepubblica, Le Monde, The New York Times, Time, Internazionale, IoDonna, Vanity Fair, Panenka football magazine.

 
 

Benedetta Ristori

 
 

Lay Off

In recent times many states have proceeded with a reshaping of working, intensifying the pace to cope with economic crisis due to the massive competition of the international markets. We are seeing a considerable increase in shifts of night work that is gradually coming to be one of the most profitable among producing and conditions of employment of labor. This mode of shift work, once the preserve of industrial sectors, is instead now spreading significantly also in the service sectors, in areas such as communications, the operators of call center and operators selling to the public, characteristics of the “global village” that no longer differences between day and night.

Shift work, even at night and on holidays, now covers more than eight million workers targeted, often, of psycho-physical due to the continuous change between the “biological clock” that marks the rhythm of the body, following the natural alternation of day and night, and the requirements imposed by the “society of work” that does not recognize these natural alternations (social jet lag). The intention of this project, is to spy the life of these workers, showing the characteristic that, in most cases, distinguishes them: loneliness. The project is still ongoing.

Benedetta Ristori

Benedetta Ristori is a freelance photographer currently based in Rome,Italy. Her work is focus on the tension that exists between a form – such as a human head or a square – and the space which it both occupies and is contained by. Crucial concepts of her stylistic research: decadence, abandonment, emptiness and new approach to classic beauty. In 2015 Benedetta is one of the finalist of the ‘Next Photographer Award’ by D&AD in partnership with Getty Images. In 2016 one photo from “Lay Off” is the winner of the People category in the 16th Smithsonian Magazine photo contest. The same year her project “Lay Off” is published on Vogue Italia online.The series ‘East’ is published on It’s Nice That, Freunde Von Freunden, The Space Magazine, The Calvert Journal and Vice Italy. In 2017 is one of the 100 creatives chosen to represent the Lazio region in the enterprise “Lazio Creativo 2017”.

 
 

Matthieu Rosier

 
 

The underside of gold

Before gold becomes jewelry, electric conductor in our cell phones or lingos in the safes, the path is long and devastating for men and his environment.

This photography report "The underside of gold" talk about the contrast between the mining regions of western Mali and the profits market's gold. What is the real usefulness of gold, and what are the social and environmental consequences of its production?

The gold market is a more or less stable variant. Since a decate the price of gold is doing well, the yellow metal is a profitable investment. Gold rushes multiply, multinationals invest millions in advanced mining industries; sacrificing entire areas of West Africa, resulting in massive pollution of soil and air, disease, displacement and suppressing any other regional economy. The dictatorship of the monoculture of gold swallows everything in its path.

Gold is the flagship sector of the Malian economy in terms of resources generated (on average 250 to 300 billion FCFA per year), which represents more than 7% of GDP, 75% of export values and 25% of GDP. % of the national budget. Gold is the first product exported from Mali, behind cotton and livestock. More than one million Malians work in the mining sector.

Under this profitable economy, hard work, child labor, pollution, health problems are underestimated. The poorest region of Kayes in Mali has become a gigantic open pit mine. Large international mining cooperatives cross the road of the gigantic artisanal mines, leaving behind dead and polluted landscapes (Cyanure, Arsenic, Mercury). If the search for gold is a real direct economy for the local population, the work of gold panning remains toxic and dangerous, health problems are frequent, insecurity increases and other economies such as agriculture and transumences disappear.

Matthieu Rosier

Matthieu Rosier (France 1984), lives between Paris and Bamako. Hes has been graduated from Cergy-Pontoise Fine-Arts and from the Arles School of Photography. Soon he will use photography as a medium and tool of socials issues and will position himself in a photographic field between Art and Documentary.

Today his work of author concentrates on photography and film documentary projects of long-term investigations. He works on geopolitical and socio-economic issues in Mali, showing the imbalances caused by the wars and globalization and its impact on populations and environment.

He collaborates with French press newspapers and magazines. His work has been exhibited at the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, at the Filles du Calvaires gallery (Paris), and at various festivals in France and abroad (Les Boutographies, Photo Odessa).

 
 

Marie Tihon

 
 

PRISON « A LA CARTE »

The San Diego Women’s Prison is located in the historic heart of Cartagena, a tourist town in northern Colombia. In this overcrowded prison where violence reigns, the Interno restaurant opened to the public in December 2016. The San Diego Women’s Prison is a pioneer in rehabilitation and improvement of detention conditions. In addition to the unique experience of eating in prison gourmet dishes served by inmates, it primarily allows the prisoners of San Diego to benefit from ”segundas oportunidades” (second chances). The restaurant was created by the Accion Interna Foundation headed by Johana Bahamon. This famous Colombian actress wanted to give prisoners back some self-esteem. ”Everything has changed since Interno, before we were not doing anything, and now we can do something of our hands and prove to the rest of the society that we are capable of it. We feel useful”, say the inmates who received workshops by local starred chefs to teach them cooking and service skills. Thirty women work in the restaurant, which allows them to reduce their prison sentence while receiving a salary. The rest of the profits from the restaurant serve to improve the quality of life of the 180 inmates.

Marie Tihon

Marie Tihon is a freelance Belgian photojournalist based in Istanbul. She was born in 1992 and graduated in 2015 from the university IHECS, where she studied five years of journalism. She believes in the capacity of a camera to facilitate contacts between people and to testify unheard stories. Marie mainly documents the daily life of women. Through her reports, she focuses on resilience, migration, and human rights. Above all, her aim is to highlight change makers. She won the jury prize and public prize of the Mentor Award in 2016 for her work « Téhéran : les visages de l’indépendance » at the festival Visa Pour l’Image. Her work has been published in the Courier International, AlJazeera, Femmes ici et ailleurs, Ebdo, Orient XXI, 24h01, Les Jours, Die Weltwoche, 6 Mois, L’Orient-Le Jour and The Daily Star. She is represented by the Studio Hans Lucas.

 
 

Francesca Todde

 
 

ANIMAL EXCHANGE

October, beginning of afternoon in the penitentiary of Les Baumettes, a horse makes its entry on the beaten ground of the courtyard of the Desert. Through the screened windows that overhang it, from the cells of one or two places, someone sees it first, and shouts. The summoned prisoners, selected from the next released, slowly take their places, intimidated by the presence of the animal and the look of the comrades who observe them from their windows. At the end of the workshop, they galloped their eyes closed, letting go the reins to mimic the bird in full flight, they will have stretched themselves on the horse and they will have entwined the great beast, immobile for long minutes, carried away in this animal exchange, without words or judgment. A form - in their own words - of emotional reinsertion.

Images taken during the workshops conducted in two times in 2014 and 2015 by the Théâtre du Centaure in the prison of Les Baumettes, Marseille, France. With the support of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur Region and the Marseille-Les Baumettes Penitentiary Center. In partnership with the State - Ministry of Justice, the Interregional Directorate of Penal Services PACA Corse, the Penitentiary Service of Institution and Probation of the Bouches-du-Rhone. With the support of The Impossible Project.

Francesca Todde

Francesca is a documentary photographer based in Milano, Italy. Most of her long-term projects are focused on the relation between humans and animals.

Her works were published on RVD Photos, GRANTA Magazine, La Vie, L’Humanité Dimanche, EYESOPEN! Magazine, PRIVATE, YET Magazine, C-41. Among exhibitions: MEP Maison Européenne de la Photographie/Paris 2017; Impossible Project Space/Paris 2017; CAMERA - Centro italiano per la Fotografia/Torino 2016. She’s also a graphic designer and with the artist Luca Reffo she founded the editions Departpourlimage.

 
 

Sasja van Vechgel

 
 

Transcending Gender; An Intimate Encounter

It’s not easy being an LGBT person in Indonesia, and it’s only gotten harder since the start of 2016, when the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Indonesia have received much negative attention.

Transgenders as well as the larger LGBT community found themselves at the centre of a religious, political and social media storm. Coming from different island in Indonesia the young transgenders in these photo series hope to find their luck in Jakarta and make a living through sex work. The negative consequences of stigmatisation however, create even more economic dependence, a lower self esteem and lack of access to healthcare, which greatly increases their risk on HIV. Drawing the viewer into the core of their being, it is obvious that the body and minds are feminine which at the same time is also the reason for all the difficulties encountered.

Currently in Indonesia the HIV/Aids prevalence amongst the transgender community lies around 30% and is rising with age.

Sasja van Vechgel

Dutch photographer Sasja van Vechgel‘s (1975) main interest as a photographer is looking into what defines a human being. “I like to tell stories about stigmatized minority people and groups and to show the universality and normality in their specific ways of life. To that end, I especially explore their intimacy and daily lives”. Characteristic for Sasja’s work is the combination of documentary photography (often focused on human rights and health issues) with an artsy flavour.

After completing her master’s degree in Human Geography at the University of Amsterdam, she turned her passion for photography into her profession. She has been living and working in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Denmark for the past 18 years.

Her work has won several international awards and nominations: Sony World Photography Award, Julia Margaret Cameron Award, and HPA/UNESCO Folklore award. In 2010 she published a coffee-table book.