Although I was born and raised in Rotterdam, a traditional working-class harbour town, I ended up alienated in my hometown. Floods of new, immigrant faces arrived, creating big changes in a town that was already in a process of endless reconstruction – an inherited neurosis from the memorable and disastrous bombardment of the city’s centre and harbours.
These rather turbulent local developments fit remarkably well with popular cultural recreation in Dutch society. The growing commercialization of leisure has far-reaching consequences for the public space. Rotterdam grabbed its chance, and now claims to be the town of festivals, hoping to generate widespread public attention.
All this made me reconsider my attitude towards photography. This dawning of a new era, a new Rotterdam, demanded a new approach. And I felt I had to decide fast.
So for a decade now, I’ve found myself surveying the border between social criticism and compassion, trying to make visible the ambivalent relationship between the promise and the letdown of our modern way of urban life.
Otto SnoekDecember 2006