My first cultural event shortly after arriving in Copenhagen in 1981, was a photo presentation, American Pictures by the Danish photographer and writer, Jacob Holdt. The presentation, documented 4 years of traveling in America, from north to south, capturing and recording the diversity and divisions of a nation struggling with its identity in the 1970’s. Jacob’s personal observations with his lens, made a lasting impression and helped shape my own social awareness. Jacob’s documentation of the social injustices and poverty reeking havoc 40 years ago, is sadly as relevant today as then.
Another Dane, also called Jacob with a lens in hand, has been in focus at Ribe Art Musuem the last couple of months. Jacob Riis, like so many Scandinavians, emigrated to America in 1870 and during the 1880’s captured through pen and camera the squalor and living conditions of immigrants arriving in New York. After years of documenting and exposing the poverty and social injustices, especially those concerning children, Jacob Riis, toured America giving lectures and helped to propel political awareness.
The exhibition, Light In Dark Places, was originally designed by The Museum Of The City Of New York and now it is only fitting it has arrived in the town of his birth, Ribe. The museum, wonderfully restored in 2010 by the architect, Jørgen Overby, richly deserve the plaudits for this enlightning exhibition.
Content & Photos: Phillip Mills