Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson

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Indigenous people photographed by Jimmy Nelson
at the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

from April 12 till September 7, 2014

People from faraway regions are looking at you. You are standing face to face with the most splendidly adorned people in mind-blowing landscapes. With the exposition HAIL THE PEOPLE! the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden is the first museum in the Netherlands to offer the chance to get acquainted with the impressive work of Jimmy Nelson. This passionate top photographer has travelled for four years across various continents. On his journeys, Nelson visited dozens of indigenous people and photographed them at their most beautiful – ranging from the Chukchi in icy Siberia to the Dani in Papua New Guinea, and from the Mursi in the Horn of Africa to the Gaucho in Argentina. With his sharp eye and his mastery of camera techniques, Nelson has created a series of photographic masterpieces and a romantic storyboard depicting faraway peoples.
Thanks to a special collaboration between Jimmy Nelson and the National Museum of Ethnology it is now possible for everyone to stand face to face with these impressive groups of people. High definition, wall-sized images, accompanied by videos and the sounds of the local surroundings, transform this exhibition into a visual spectacle. HAIL THE PEOPLE! is more than a collection of excellent photographs. The portraits stimulate the imagination and raise questions in one's mind. Visitors to the exhibition are challenged to think about themselves and others. What is it that we are really looking at? What role does the photographer play, and what do we bring to the interpretation? 
The exhibition is divided into several themes. The first hall immerses the visitor in the enormous diversity of the landscapes of the places on earth where Nelson took his pictures. The 'Making of' section shows videos and shares the stories of Nelson's heart-warming encounters in the remote areas that he visited. Another hall zooms in on the details and covers several sub-topics, such as pictures of women, portraits in which exceptional hairstyles take centre stage, and the remarkable ornaments worn by the different groups of people. People from all over the world are mixed together in a celebration of diversity.

A special section of this exhibition is 'De Studio' (The Studio). At set times the master photographer himself will be capturing visitors to the exhibition on film, thus making them part of the exhibition. The exhibition concludes with a remarkable series of photographs of the 'domestic travels' that the photographer made in January 2014 especially for the exhibition. The residents of Marken and Terschelling have been photographed at their most beautiful. The exhibition includes a variety of activities for the general public, such as lectures and opportunities to meet Jimmy Nelson. The first of these is during the Leiden Museum Night on 17 May 2014, when Nelson will report on his impressive travels and encounters, and visitors will get the opportunity to be photographed by the master himself.   

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