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Courage across continents

Brighton Secondary School in Australia, Lillestrøm videregående skole and MiA Museums in Akershus have collaborated in creating a photographic exhibition exploring the theme: Courage. The broad and complex theme of courage has challenged the students, both in Australia and Norway.

  • Foto: Staying Afloat by Lauren Cobb, Australia (Foto/Photo)
    Foto: Staying Afloat by Lauren Cobb, Australia

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others” Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC).

The question of how to define and understand the concept of courage has been pondered over by great thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks, if not earlier. Philosophers have struggled with the topic, as it cuts to the very core of our human existence. Both Aristotle and Plato defined courage as a moral virtue – for Plato courage was that which allows reason to rule, both on an individual and societal level, while Aristotle saw it as a quality in the human soul leading to good actions and the ultimate fulfilment of human life: happiness

Since we were informed that courage would be the theme of this year’s photo-essay assignment, we have been excited to see how contemporary interpretations of this age-old puzzle might compare with those from generations past. And with contributions from students from both Australia and Norway, we’ve also been curious to see if the courage means something different on opposite sides of the globe.

The young photographers are very aware that courageous acts can result in serious damage to the body and even death. We see anxiousness in a young surfer setting off into the ocean and in a ski-jumper in mid-air. We see images recalling sacrifice, and a willingness to serve something greater than oneself- a war veteran’s act of selflessness, a fire fighter’s saving others, a mountain climber continuing his sport despite surviving an accident, a bride’s act of love, and a young girl battling cancer. 

With examples varying from one part of the world to another, we still recognize the quest to locate something inside oneself in order to face the unknown. These photos visualize the internal struggle to keep fighting, to push through, and to not give up in the face of adversity and injustice. The students’ rich body of work impresses us this year!

Kjersti Lillebø, Cand.Polit.Anthropology

Kirsten Linde, Curator NMF