Jeroen Toirkens (Netherlands, b. 1971) studied Photographic Design at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague, and since 1995 has been working as a freelance photographer. He focuses particularly on social documentary photography and has published photo essays in Air France Magazine, Monocle, Le Monde Magazine, LensCulture, Trouw, De Morgen and several other Dutch and International newspapers and magazines.
In 1999 Toirkens initiated a project called Nomadslife, in which he plans to document the life of the last nomadic peoples on the Northern Hemisphere.
Toirkens became fascinated by the nomad families high in Turkey's Bolkar Mountains. He encountered the way of life of the Yörük, who were struggling with the pressures of a modernising Turkey. What were originally their nomadic pastures were being bought up by real estate developers, and many of the young people were departing for life in the cities. After that he visited other originally nomadic peoples who were encountering comparable problems. For instance, in 2005 and 2006 he and the journalist Jelle Brandt Corstius spent time with the Sámi and the Nenets in Russia. Before the Soviet era family units from these tribes were constantly on the move with their herds. Under the Soviet regime they were forced to become workers on collective farms, the kolchoses, a policy from which they are still suffering the consequences. Most recently Toirkens visited Barrow in Alaska, the centre for traditional whaling. There the nomadic life has already made way for a settled lifestyle.
In 2011 his book Nomad was published by Belgian publisher Lannoo. The book shows the pervasive photos Toirkens took during his eleven trips to nomadic peoples. With this book Toirkens creates a diverse and often poignant picture of nomadism in the 21st century. Jelle Brandt Corstius journalist and presenter, who accompanied Toirkens on a number of trips, wrote an extended essay for the book. Working closely with photo editor Marc Prüst, Toirkens selected the images that told his story of contemporary nomads.
In 2011 he was awarded with the prestigious CANON prize for the best innovative photostory for his project NomadsLife. According to the jury: “A project that, in these hectic times, stresses that a long focus on one issue leads to new insights, knowledge and images that transcend clichés in a superior way.”
Nominations and Awards
2012 CANON prize for NomadsLife, best innovative photostory completed in 2011
2011 Nomad selected on 'The 11 best photography books of 2011' by Brainpickings
2011 Nominated (longlist) DutchDoc Award - NomadsLife
2010 Nominated (longlist) Prix Pictet Growth - included in catalogue
2010 Nominated (longlist) DutchDoc award - Inuït series Greenland
2009 First price Silver Camera - Foreign Documentary, for a series on Tiniteqilaaq in East Greenland.
2004 Third price Silver Camera - Foreign Documentary, for a photo on the Dukha nomads in Mongolia.
2012 Silver Camera, yearbook 2011 / various authors
2011 Nomad the last nomadic life on the Northern Hemisphere / Photographs Jeroen Toirkens, essay Jelle Brandt Corstius, edit Marc Prüst, design Wout de Vringer, published by Lannoo
2011 Growth - Prix Pictet (longlist) included in catalogue / various authors
2010 LAND / country life in the urban age, catalogue / various authors
2010 Silver Camera, yearbook 2009 / various authors
2012 Silver Camera | CANON prize | travelling exhibition - group
2012 Roots2Share | Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden | 16 short films on East-Greenland - travelling exhibition
2011 Kominek Gallery | Berlin | Groupshow on Dutch and Belgian photobooks - group
2011 Roots2Share | Museon, The Hague | 16 short films on East-Greenland - permanent
2011 The Hague / Gemak / Nomad / project overview and bookpresentation / curated by Wim van Sinderen - solo
2010 Groningen / Noorderlicht Gallery / NomadsLife - solo
2010 Leeuwarden / Fries Museum / Noorderlicht / LAND / country life in the urban age / curated by Wim Melis - group
2010 Silver Camera travelling exhibition - group
2009 Rotterdam / Centre for Arts / Nomaden - group
2009 Utrecht / RASA / Mongolia - solo
2008 Leiden / National Museum of Ethnology / Nomads above the Arctic circle, Nenets and Sámi - solo
2007 Amsterdam / KIT / Mongolië 2004 - solo
2007 Naarden / Photofestival Naarden off / Zien of niet zien - group
2006 Amsterdam / Olympic stadium / Holland Unique Photofestival - group
2006 The Hague / Bronovo hospital / nursing' 12 purchased images - solo
2006 Amsterdam / HUP gallery - group
2005 The hague / Arthouse / North-Russian Nenets - solo
2005 Amsterdam / Olympic stadium / Holland Unique Photofestival - group
2005 YiPArt benefit auction and en group-exhibition - group
2005 Silver Camera travelling exhibition - group
2005 Naarden / Phototofestival / Vintagephoto gallery - group
2003 The Hague / Museon / 4 purchased images - solo
1996 The Hague / Radio West - group
1996 The Hague / Omniversum en Imax theater - group
1995 The Hague / Graduation exhibition / ‘Maria virgin of the poor’, pelgrimage in Europa. - solo