Project Sea Change is about capturing a moment in time. After the global financial collapse in 2007, people all over Europe have been experiencing a time of great uncertainty, with many challenges but perhaps also new opportunities and new beginnings.
Great photography has the potential to tell stories with a power to provoke change.
That is difficult to achieve with words alone.
The current socio-economic challenges that face individuals as well as governments in Europe pose questions that are difficult to answer. Possibly the most urgent question of them all is being asked by young Europeans from Portugal to Romania, from Malta to Finland: Will I be able to get a job, buy a home, support a family? Who will provide for me if I lose my job or my health, and what about when I grow old?
migrant-mother-iconic-dorothea-lange-portraitThe world-wide collapse in the financial markets since 2008 has also triggered a complex crisis in many European countries. Skyrocketing debt, mass unemployment, economic recession and political turmoil is not a theoretical outcome, but a sad and pressing reality for millions of European citizens. The effects of this situation are felt by all Europeans, not only by those who are directly affected by it.
Project Sea Change harks back to the FSA Photographers of the Roosevelt Administration in the USA. From 1935 to 1942, more than 250.000 pictures were taken, both to document the extent and effects of the Great Depression, but also to highlight the measures that were taken to lift America out of crisis and into prosperity. Great photography has the potential to tell stories with a power to provoke change. That is difficult to achieve with words alone.
Project Sea Change is about documenting the lives of young Europeans, to show how they are affected by the current uncertainties. Some of the best documentary photographers in Europe will create a unique tapestry of stories to present a vibrant, thought-provoking and novel perspective on Europe’s current challenges.
We will document both the problems and the possibilities that the challenges have created. The strategies that young Europeans adopt to cope with the new situation, how this impacts their daily lives, and their dreams and ambitions for the future.
We will use different approaches to reach these ambitious goals. A combination of in depth documentary work in a single country on the one hand, and journalistic photo essays on pan-European issues on the other.
Many issues are common to all or most European countries, for instance migration, political extremism, the role of European Islam, and unemployment, to name but a few.
Possibly the most urgent question of them all is being asked by young Europeans from Portugal to Romania, from Malta to Finland: Will I be able to get a job, buy a home, support a family?
We will present the project both as an exhibition in European cities and as a book and a website. But we also aim to make the project a starting point for discussions, debates, news stories in leading media outlets and political action. The evidence presented by the project should be a platform from which other projects could be launched, making it something that could go on for years to come.
The project will make use of the talents of some of Europe’s leading photo journalists, to provide images of the highest possible quality. Each of the participants in the project will have a proven record as a documentary photographer, and most are members of leading photo agencies.
The uncertainties of Europe and the search for a solution to the pressing economic issues is among the most important events of recent years, and it needs to be discussed and debated in as many ways as possible. Our project aims to create a basis for a pan-European discussion on the political and economic crisis and the possible solutions to it.
Project Sea Change collaborates with the VII photo agency, and has received generous funding from Norwegian government sources, private foundations and media companies.