Opening speech by Eigunn Stav Sætre (Kultur- og næringssjef, Kristiansund kommune)
Dear photographers, dear lovers of photography – dear everyone!
Welcome to little big Kristiansund – where we live with our hearts on our sleeves and our eyes towards the stars. We have always looked outwards – to the great beyond – and with more than 50 nationalities living together in one of Norway’s most interesting and international business regions we are a small town with a big city attitude. To us it only makes sense that the world’s greatest international festival of photography should be born and bred here – the Nordic Light.
Since its birth in 2006, the Nordic Light International Festival of Photography has grown into a remarkable kid. Already tall for her age, she grows an inch every year, and is now a beautiful, charming, intelligent and challenging eight year old – as she should be. Nordic Light has also taken the brave step and bought her own house – a step which we as a municipality are very proud to have contributed to.
Kristiansund has always put arts and culture in front, and Nordic Light is one of our finest examples of what can come out of that. From the start in 2006 with 12 000 unique visits, more than 70 000 people visited the festival last year. That truly makes Nordic Light a springtime sensation!
All of you here tonight – from different backgrounds and with different perspectives and hopes for this week and for the future – let me tell you; we are honored to have you all amongst us. You open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to an amazing world and you make us too want to be bold, brave and beautiful – as you are. You mean the world to us!
To quote the festival’s website; "The festival’s philosophy is to bring photography out to the people, to define what is a good photography, but also to give the photography strength as a means of communication". In my world, the photography more than any other form of expression poses the question, fuels the discussion, holds the answer.
We walk in our Nordic Light and sometimes we do not see the curbs and corners in front of us. But through its many lenses this festival makes us, and I thank you for bringing the twists and turns of life back into perspective.
Photography is not only art; it is a real and honest way of debating the many challenges of society. We need this debate, and we applaud it! As a clever woman once said; "What we have to do... is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities" (Hillary Clinton).
So may the diversities be celebrated, the differences be debated and may our hearts and minds be completely thrown. It is my great honor and privilege to declare the 8th Nordic Light International Festival of Photography - opened!