Projects of humans stories
The Soja of Paraguay
Families of indigenous and campesinos (peasants) origin are the victims of the large scale soya production. The last 20 years there has been a huge deforestation in Paraguay to make place for the soya production, which is completely in the hands of Brazilian landowners. Most of the indigenous families have rudely been displaced and dispossessed of their land. And the last remaining peasants fight for their rights to live in their colonies. They are encircled by large soya fields and suffer from health problems caused by the use of pesticide in the soya production. The peasants have to sell their land to the soya farmers while the Indian people end up as garbage collectors.
Global Street Child
The street child phenomenon is a growing worldwide problem. Street children live under dire circumstances and they represent one of our most serious global challenges, because they are the symptoms of the global inequality that is increasing with economic globalism. No country anywhere in the world today is without the presence of street children, but there is no real public awareness worldwide for this escalating phenomenon.
Faces of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a mix of people with own ideas and opinions. The inhabitants live together with many different cultures in openness, freedom and tolerance. In my series Stadsgezichten (Faces of the City) I want to show the inhabitants of Amsterdam as a coloured puzzle of the urban culture. At the same time the hidden theme is the place of the individual against the mass, the person versus the crowd.
Living in Europe
In Europe we live in a period of big migration, especially from Africa. In the recent past every European country had its own specific migration from the former colonies, like people from Congo in Belgium and people from Cabo Verde in Portugal. Even though these countries are used to immigration, many people feel threatened by the recent wave of newcomers. The key word here is identity. Right wing politicians say that the European identity will be destroyed by the immigrants. But new faces create new identities. Living in Europe shows persons and their stories behind the big identity change in Europe.
When children in Holland are not able to live with their parents, due to social problems, they are temporarily fostered by other parents. But when they reach the age of 18, they have to leave their foster parents, causing another psychological problem.
This is a project about international adoption in Holland. I photographed the adoptees in their adult age. Many have struggled with their past finding their roots. All have found a way to create unique and creative sense of identity. Together with the studio portraits I made long interviews with each of them.
The small village New Ayoma, in the Volta district in Ghana, is mainly depending on the cacao production. As the state buyers keep the prize of cacao low and the production is not high, the village remains poor. The pace of life in this African Village is dictated by nature. They hunt for deer, rabbits, or rats and make palm oil and palm-wine. These communities tend to disappear, due to the migration of young people to big cities.
Many refugees from African countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast have been refused an asylum status in Holland. In fact they are asked to leave the country again. But as they don't have a place to go, and have no official papers of the countries of origin they end up being illegal. In Amsterdam some hundred 'illegal' refugees were temporarily placed in a prison, totally voluntarily. They stayed in the old prison during 6 months. Many of them have stayed in prison in their own country, so they had a mixed feeling staying in a prison room as being their home.
In 1994 right after the abolishion of apartheid, poor immigrants from rural areas squatted a piece of land near Soweto, called Motsoaledi. It was meant to serve as a temporary place for people who were looking for jobs in Johannesburg. They built their shacks from wood, iron and stone. Now the same squatters of that period, still live in the same houses, without running water or electricity. They form a close and peaceful community.
Nomads In Mongolia
Most people, about two thirds, in Mongolia live in the capital Ulaan Baatar. The nomads, the original Mongolian people, tend to leave the immense wide country, mostly due to the dzud, the severe winters that causes the death of their animals. In the city they put up their gers (yurts) and create big outskirts of only tents. It is very hard for them to find a regular job. Their children however mostly go to the university in order to live a decent urban life.
San Jose de Chipo
Bolivia, San Jose de Chipo. High in the Andes mountains, canton Camacho, live Aymara Indians in great poverty. Their village has no electricity and only few have running water. Their crop, corn, patatoes, and some groceries, is just enough to eat from. Their is no crop trade. Due to lack of rain harvest has even diminished more. In order to earn money, the farmers have to work several months in the more fertile Yungas.
The Wild Coast (Suriname)
I photographed the people of Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. Hereby I focused on people of different ethnic groups, their identity and social background. The Dutch could hardly land at the coast because of the moores and swamps, and called it The Wild Coast. It is a metaphor for the hardships people undergo in this poor country.
I photographed immigrant youth from one college in Amsterdam Oost, during a period in which the newspapers created a negatieve image of immigrant young people, being criminal and dangerous. These kids appeared to be hard working and fighting for their place in society.
Aboriginals in Australia
Aboriginals of the Nothern Territory of Australia live in dire circumstances. They are treated as second rate citizens. Many of them are alcohol addicted and wonder around the streets. They live between their own culture and the modern society. The future lies in the hands of the young generation.
Bos en Lommer, Amsterdam
The area of Amsterdam called Bos en Lommer was one of the first to have a big number of immigrants. In order to show the ethnical shift of the population I photographed people of different backgrounds in their homes.
For a magazine about handicapped people (called Markant) during six years I made portraits of mentally or physically disabled people. I photographed them in their own power and pride. A book has been published, called "Markante Mensen".
In Amsterdam near the station was a 'hotel' called Zeezicht (Sea View). Here young people who fled their home situation, and were actually without a shelter, could stay during a certain period, if they were willing to work on their own future. I photographed and interviewed the youngsters. the lack of parental care was often the cause of the homelessness.
In the nineties Bosnian Gypies fled for the Balkan war and stayed for several months in the harbour area of Amsterdam, but finally they were expelled, back to the war area. I made portraits of the families in their caravans. Their expensive cars and most man could not be photographed.