Took this photograph last Sunday. It is of a yellow bulldozer on the Dutch Coast close to Wijk aan Zee. The vehicle is driving up to the Dutch protected sand dunes and shoveling in to the mountain of sand and vegetation and scoping the beach soil up and driving to the new mounting sand barrier and dropping it down there. This act may seem like a simple enough mechanism but it is actually so much more then that. This North Sea Beach engineer is actually doing two things:  saving the Dutch coast from ruin  protecting the village Wijk aan Zee from the North Sea.
This is a picture of a Roman Catholic Church in the village of Wijk aan Zee. Winter 2018.
The Netherlands can often been seen as a hyper futuristic country however like many countries – the Netherlands is a country of contrasts. Right now in the winter of 2018 many parts of the Netherlands have been forced to change and to adapt to the digitalization era. For example, in this photograph, if you look very closely, you can see smoke stacks and smoke coming up into the blue sky. This year, that technical industry of the Steel industry, called the Hoogovens locally, will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary. In the past 20 years, the company called the Hoogovens used to have about 24 Thousand workers to take care of the steel industry. Whereas now it is under 7000 workers. This is a concrete example, in my opinion of a combination of digitalization and industrialization.
On the one hand, Wijk aan Zee is beautiful but on the other hand, Wijk aan Zee is a Dutch village that is often torn between digitalization and industry development. The Hoogovens Steel Industry actually has a lot of land around this tiny village and there are lots of stacks of steel extracted water vapour pouring out over the village and the area of Beverwijk, in the regio of IJmond Noord and the Dutch province of North Holland.
A few short years ago this village of Wijk aan Zee was called the Cultural Village of Europe. To me this is a puzzle because what is cultural about Wijk aan Zee? Does culture have to do with people and identity? Or unity and community? Or is there something different all together, such as historic architecture that sums up what one European village has more status and standing then the other one?
In the winter of 2018 this village has almost zero cultural activities. There is a huge amount of individualization and privatization. Most people from the community who were born in this sand-grain pebble size of a city really have no interest in the rest of the world, and their only aim is to keep to themselves and protect their own turf. This is not an altruistic village.
A few years ago, the Dutch Federal Government and the National Schiphol Airport managers were engineering an idea to extend Schiphol International Airport into the North Sea, right outside of Wijk aan Zee. The development of that project is currently dormant, but it goes to show you that globalization en enhanced industrialization and digitalization all have priority over environment and historical architecture. The Netherlands is the same as all the other countries in the world. More often than not, the most powerful override the voices of the small and having high finances and plans of expansion crush villages even when they look special.
I arrived in The Netherlands on December 01, 2017 after being away from the Netherlands for approximately 14 years. I had returned to the Netherlands about 3 times prior to 2003 but those were very short trips so I do not really count those ones.
In a way it feels like I have been in Holland forever and it feels like I never left this country. That is a good strong feeling which is perhaps linked to my Dutch identity. Maybe I am a born Dutch artist, who does not need any direction in order to anchor myself and who is not really materialistic, because the things that I buy, I am aware that I may end up either donating the items to a second hand store, a free library of books or the items may even end up in the garbage. So right now, in The Netherlands, I am nothing but a vagabond and an artist. Because I see things differently then the people in Holland see things. I notice the beauty in small things, like how the sun shines on the church steeple or how the shadow falls right between two houses in the wintertime. I am not attached to anything now, and I live each moment like I am on the edge of darkness and with the state that I could fall off the end of the world at end moment and while all of these emotions and psychological states are fluctuating through my brain, I survive and my aim is to thrive. My attitude is based on my protectionism and my will to live and survive and get the best out of life. I know that how I am operating, through the cracks of the Dutch society and living a life on the the brink of desolation sounds devasting to the average citizen but to me, this is, I am in my element because of my lust and passion to life and not to become extinct. This force is not materialized in something concrete, like having my artwork hung in museums at the Museum Plein in Amsterdam Oud Zuid, but instead it is a positive invisible force for trying to do very good and continue to be as best a Dutch citizen as I possibly can, with the very little amount of intellectual tools that I possess. One of my strongest assets, I believe is my ability to see the world through a different lens than others. This makes me admire life and provides me with a sense of deep connectedness to the society in Beverwijk in which I am currently living in, this winter 2018. Photograph of me in the Beverwijk public library 2018.
Amsterdam in the country the Netherlands is a very objective city. It is a very globalized place. That means that Amsterdam has become one of the first cities in the whole world that has followed almost 100% of the European Guidelines of city centers within the Eurozone.
The Amsterdam CS train station has tight barriers allowing only people with paid tickets to enter the train station site. There are a number of security guards checking the passengers travel tickets in the train station so this completely eliminates theft.
Amsterdam has a huge tourist industry. 90% of the people walking the streets of Amsterdam are tourists,coming mostly from Portugal and Spain.
The architecture in this city has two sides. On the one hand lots of the architecture is traditional (Amsterdam School, Middle Ages and from the Golden Age) and on the other hand there is new hyper modern architecture arising like a Phoenix into the city.
I recall my teacher Emmie Neut, telling me, that from the traditional comes the modern. One does not destroy the former to gain the newer but instead builds from it. I agree with this idea, however I worry that Amsterdam may one day become all hyper modern architecture because the upkeep of the former traditional architecture will be too expensive. But I guess I do not need to worry about that now as that is probably something that may or may not take place in the very distance future.
The Dutch love their financial equations, as capitalism was born in Amsterdam centuries ago. The bottomline is this: the incoming tourism pays for the upkeep of the Dutch traditional architecture which draws in the tourism who pay for the upkeep of the architecture. They are interlinked.
Written Dec 07, 2017 corresponding from Amsterdam, NL, Europe
3 photographs taken at the end of September 2017 in the City of Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia Canada
The Native Totem pole used to be a ritual pole placed in front of Long Houses of Big Houses on Vancouver Island, BC Canada. Now the nature of the totem pole has transformed in the City of Duncan to be a tourist commodity. These totem poles in the City of Duncan have for the most part been carved by natives from the island, however the purpose of the totem poles is like a business. I have taken tours of the City of Duncan where the Entrepreneur foundation hired a local to show the totems to be in the City for a fee.
Photographs from City of Victoria BC
The funny thing about these high rise buildings is that they appear to be representing of wealth and prosperity but from where I am standing and in my point of view this is a mirage and very far from the truth. These buildings are an encasement for individuals that may or may not even want to live in the City of Victoria, as according to the local news, many owners of the condo units use their property as an AirBnB.
The majority of the owners of the units in the high rises do not even come from Vancouver Island let alone Victoria. Recently in the Provincial meeting at the Vancouver Conference Center it was mentioned in a seminar by a Simon Fraser PhD professor (in the last week of Sept. 2017. The news article was in the Vancouver Sun newspaper), that the condominiums are going to the Global financial elite who buy from outside of Canada and have the unit as an investment.
That means that while the lower level workers in the City of Victoria are getting out priced of their hometown city, the global financially secure elite get the best units in the city and do not even reside here but instead rent out their units in what the City Hall in the City of Victoria called “Ghost hotels.”
The bottom-line here is that the low income employees living in the City of Victoria can (more often then not) not financially survive in this city because the price of rent for a bachelor apartment, one bedroom or two bedroom apartment is too expensive for their budgets. So this means that in no time, the service industry in the City of Victoria is going to go under, at least to a degree, because the lower financial class who has been doing the service jobs in the City are getting out-priced. This implies they will move out of the city. Already businesses in the City of Victoria has closed their doors because of the lack of staff. The image of tall new high rise buildings appears to mean that the economy in this city is going well, when it a round-about way, the opposite is true.
In a way, the City of Victoria has created a vacuum and we stand on the edge of creating a ghost town. This ghost town would be unique only to the City of Victoria, BC in the way that is was started and it will end in this city. What I predict will happen, and it is always hard to pin-point the financial and economics of a city to an exact science, but it seems that the service industry staff especially the lower spectrum of the working class in the city are going to pack their bags as in an exodus and leave Victoria. This will leave the small business without staff members. Without the lower level employees the economy will at least in part collapse, hence creating a real ghost town.
Photographs taken September 29, 2017 in the City of Victoria, V.I. BC. Canada. On Yates.
It really makes me feel uncomfortable to walk down the center of the city and see impressive buildings lining up the streets, as I know that these buildings are not to help the poor but instead they are designed for the global financial elite. I would have much preferred that the City of Victoria would have been designed like the small town up-island called Chemenius where there is a little local museum and a town filled with stories of their own independent heritage. Instead in the City of Victoria everything is designed in an adhoc manner and there is no sequencing nor cultural heritage lined in the architecture. Often the architecture of the buildings is designed and geared towards an internationalization versus our own City of Victoria culture. It is so clear, it is almost funny, about how the City of Victoria has turned their backs of helping the marginalized and completely focused on the business and housing market of the internationalization of the global financial elite. I wish I could find the silver lining in this one but I cannot. The building designs have no story, no cohesiveness and are rude and abrupt as these high rise buildings represent authority and power in a City of Victoria culture that was previously always low-key and humble. I do not know who had the keys to the city to have had so much power as to allow this brutal mechanism machine of tiles and lined structures to take over the previously humble and low-key city in which I have lived for so long. I understand I am in no position to change the architectural design of the City of Victoria in 2017 but if it was up to me, I would have contracted out a design and a cohesiveness to the city. I would have planned the city in some kind of order and sequencing – because even cities like Islamabad Pakistan had a Greek city planner created their city into Sectors where certain buildings were group together. Even in Islamabad Pakistan, there was a very powerful and humble city structure enabling everyone access to the city by creating an open plan city design.
Why could not the City of Victoria create a vision, like Allan W. Edwards created for the University of Victoria in the 1960’s?
The photographs that I have added show the nature of the economics in the City of Victoria BC. It is boom or bust. On the one hand the city is financially booming with the high rise; and on the other hand businesses in the city are going under daily. To me it is like a cowboy culture of hit and miss and much like what I saw on Wall Street in the New York stock exchange where stockbrokers were making and losing money is minutes, seconds and mini-seconds.
Is this what globalization looks like in 2017 in Canada?