When the Dutch arrived in Manhattan in 1609, the island was still a jungle and the people inhabiting it were making use of it. With this series I tried to find that native jungle and re-enact the customs of the settlers that use to live in it. These photographs bend time, bringing the past and the present and the past to the present. But can also be seen as a reflection on individualism, daily life, consumerism.
For this series I assumed a historic frame of mind, seeking to go back in time to recreate vignettes that would tell the story of the discovery of Manhattan. People actually used the land , river and it’s content to eat, sleep and live. You could see it as a comment on society as well, why not?
A personal story. I had great help from Ember Rilleau, Kathy Ryan, Sanne, Taco, Audrey, Erik, Marie, Matthieu and many more people during the making of this series. But I have to say this was my most difficult series to make since I started doing projects abroad. Beforehand I thought NY was a place where at every corner something new and exciting would happen which you couldn’t expect and I kind of anticipated on this. In reality it was the most cleaned up city I ever visited. Very friendly but with my camera I wasn’t very welcome in many places. Possibly because much is privatised, I actually couldn’t reach some of the spots I thought would be nice to have a look at. During the month there I felt a bit claustrophobic and tiptoed a bit. Luckily managed to do a lot of things on the go but still luckily could do some things with a permit or permission as well. What I learned is that you needed to be organised and work with an insider and therefore have some money to arrange things… Well, a bit negative but not meant to be, a realistic note for the future. I just think there could be an in between control and out of control, as I heard it was 15/20 years ago, now there might be the need for balance.
This work was made for the exhibtion Dutch seen: NY re-discovered in the City Museum of NY 2009