Saint Olaf´s Wake
On his website, Kevin Faingnaert, who lives in Gent, Belgium, describes himself as a portrait and documentary photographer, which is interesting because not only does it imply the act of observing, but of telling a story as well. And when you take a look at Kevin’s work, you can see that he captures more then “just” random people and landscapes. One gets an impression of what living in the places he visits must be like; their overriding dynamic is also is depicted.
His project “Saint Olaf’s Wake” is no exception.
Judging by the misty atmosphere, you would never imagine that Ólavsøka (the subject of series) takes place on July 29th. Kevin takes us on a journey to the Faroe Islands, and not without reason. He wants to share the special experience of the national holiday, Ólavsøka, with us. It is celebrated by the people in the small capital called Tòrshavn. People from all over the Faroe Islands gather in their national costumes to attend cultural and sports events, such as the national rowing competition finals. On this day, the whole city is made up in blue, red and white: the colours of the national flag. You can find them on the competitors’ jerseys and in the embroidery on the traditional costumes. The docks are packed with people, where normally few would stand, and they are all celebrating together.
Kevin starts with an overview, then he zooms into the crowd – here is where the documentary photographer shines through. He focuses on the details that give the viewer an impression of what is dear to the people. He rounds the series off inside some buildings. Those portrayed are back in their homes and their everyday lives. The party is over but they still wear subtle smiles on their faces. Kevin has the skill to capture a moment of confidence and peace, in silence or the friskiest gathering, at least for the Faroe conditions. Or perhaps he just has a special connection to the people, as “Saint Olaf’s Wake” was his second trip to the islands and also his second set of beautiful pictures.