Interview with Philippien Noordam

The registration for the International Photo Festival Leiden (IPFL 2020) closed on 1 December 2019. More than a hundred photographers from all over Europe have submitted their work. The ball is now in the court of the IPFL jury, which has just gotten a new chairman this year: Philippien Noordam, who takes over from Wim van Sinderen. Let us introduce her to you.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?

“As a senior advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I am responsible for purchasing, managing and maintaining the ministry’s art collection. This art collection consists of 12,000 objects in 300 Dutch official residences and embassies around the world as well as the division in The Hague. The collection is very divergent: From old masters, antiquities and crafts to Dutch contemporary art with a focus on photography. In addition, I regularly award and supervise artists’ assignments for the construction or renovation of artworks in diplomatic representations abroad.

A broad knowledge of art history and the art market is essential. The artistic milieu and experts in the field expect usable and well-matched policy contributions and advice to be delivered at a high professional level. My operational work is primarily project-based, carried out independently or in some cases also in close collaboration with (interior)architects. The end results can be a new art collection, the completion of an art assignment or checking the conditions and presence of artworks in an embassy or residence.”

In how many IPFL’s have you participated?

“This is my second time. During the last IPFL I was a jury member.”

What do you like about the IPFL? What do you think about previous editions?

“What I like about the IPFL is that it focuses on recent graduates. This fits well with the motto of Leiden: ‘City of Discoveries’. For once this does not refer to the so-called young talent that is often linked to an upper age limit of 40 years, but photographers regardless of age who have graduated no longer than five years ago. This offers a very different perspective. People in this phase are still looking for their own handwriting, but it is already starting to take hold. This is precisely what we hope to discover. I also find the fact that participants are being asked to compile a series of four photographies interesting. The composition of a series reveals a great deal about the ability to properly evaluate one’s own work. You have to make choices. This can also give the jury valuable insight into the individual steps that were taken.”

The jury for IPFL 2020 will start its work in January. Have you already made plans for this? Is there anything in particular you and the other jury members will pay particular attention to when selecting the 20 photographers for the outdoor exhibition as well as the jury winner?

“The answer is far from original, but originality and individuality will certainly play a role. The image must add something to the larger picture, be distinctive and arouse curiosity. But the whole series must also be consistent and reinforcing in itself. Finally, we must feel the conviction that we are dealing here with an ongoing development after the completion of a study program.”

Is there anything else that I did not ask and that you would like to share with us?

“The international character can perhaps be framed and put into the spotlight more strongly. You could for instance select a special ‘focus country’ per edition and even add a jury member from this country to join the jury in Leiden. And as far as I am concerned, I also think the prize money should be increased by having a sponsor commit to the prize.”