If one were to ask a hundred people, a centenary celebration of a student association would most likely bring the word ‘beer’ to mind rather than ‘photo exhibition’. This year, the SSR-R students thought it was time to change that way of thinking.
Open to all
This year’s centenary celebrations will, of course, involve ample drinking and partying. But an equally important aspect to the celebrations is their gift to the city of Rotterdam: organising the World Press Photo Exhibition.
As of 20 January the photos will be on display, free of charge, for three weeks. “We wanted to provide a gift to all the inhabitants of the city, something for all walks of life,” told Sjors Hoogeveen (22), one of the SSR-R members involved with organising the event. His fellow member, Anne-Lotte Redel (23), added: “It had to offer both cultural and societal appeal. Reunion-goers came up with the idea of World Press Photo, and they approached a former member who works for the Foundation.”
Not as easy as initially thought
The students have been busy preparing for the exhibition for more than a year now. The tricky part was there being nothing to go by: no ready-made instruction manual lay to hand. “The licence was sorted already, but nothing else,” explained Redel. “We had to throw ourselves into all the other aspects, from marketing and fundraising to fundraising, and the venue, of course.”
To Hoogeveen’s delight, the Laurenskerk became the ultimate venue. “It’s a magnificent building, readily accessible, right in the centre of the city; we couldn’t have wished for better. All the preparations took their toll, but luckily it all turned out alright in the end.”
Over the coming weeks visitors will not only be able to see the best photos from the preceding year at the World Press Photo Exhibition, but there will also be two additional photo exhibitions on display in the Laurenskerk, readings will be held, and visitors can request a guided tour of all the images. The SSR-R members will be all hands on deck as well. “We will be doing the guided tours, with a little help. Other volunteers and photographers will also be on hand to guide the visitors round.”
One objective the SSR-R has imposed upon itself regarding the exhibition is to get as many people from all walks of life through the doors. “For example, we will be taking infirm OAPs to the Laurenskerk and bringing them back home, and we have also invited secondary schools, to involve young people in the exhibitions. We’ve also endeavoured to make it more accessible to the average visitor, for example with free admission to the exhibition.”
“We believe we’ll have reached our goal when we hit the 10,000 visitor mark,” said Hoogeveen. “Is that achievable? To be completely honest, I haven’t a clue. Our initial goal was 1,000 likes on our Facebook page, but meanwhile more than 14,000 people have shown their interest, so it’s difficult to say. But, if we do achieve that number, we’ll have a celebratory drink on the last night. I think we’ll have earned it.”
Where: Laurenskerk, Grotekerkplein 27, 3011 GC, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
When: 20 January up to and including 9 February
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday between 11:00 – 17:00 hrs. Sunday between 13:00 – 16:00 hrs.