The reason I like photography museums is twofold. Just like with paintings, you can enjoy them at your own pace and just stand in front of them for as long as you need to take it all in. Second, photography has given artists and exhibitors the possibility to tell stories by making or displaying series of pictures.
FOAM, the photography museum in Amsterdam, is really good at exhibiting these stories. They always have two, three or more exhibitions at the same time and are experts in selecting the ones that tell the most inspiring tales.
Two of the current exhibitions are good examples of this and tell stories close to my heart. First, Human Nature by a 35-year-old American photographer, which shows photos of wild nature and man-made environments. Yet, after a while, you’ll start asking yourself which is which. Does a tree in the middle of Seoul’s greenbelt pass for nature these days? And what about a dessert that is the result of men made climate change? Wild nature or human creation?
The other exhibition is of Jacob Riis’ work that is more than a hundred years old. It shows photographs of slums in American cities at the beginning of the twentieth century, taken with the goal to spur social activism and change the living conditions in these cities.
These kinds of stories, old and new, make me visit FOAM a couple times each year, of course, combined with a lunch sandwich from De Kaaskamer.