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
Eindhoven is a city in the South of Holland. It started off as a small municipality and once Philips started his famous Philips company the village started to grow. now it is considered to be Holland’s fifth largest cities. What makes Eindhoven a special city? Well it all starts at the Central train station (Eindhoven CS).
In the main hall, there is a quote in large neon yellow letters that reads:
“Conventie, een soort herinnering, is het grootste beletsel om te genieten van leven en kunst.” Piet Mondriaan
Which means convention is the obstacle between art and life.
It is the kind of quote that makes you question your life, your actions and your independent role as an individual. It is because of this one quote that I changed. I changed my vision of the world, my vision of people, my goals, dreams and aspirations, I no longer could find peace within tradition or culture instead I knew I needed to follow my own way.
To me, going to Eindhoven and seeing that quote in the CS was the most valuable experience in my world travels.
A Stop Gap is a method that is used to prevent something from happening. It starts as a short-term situation and it can then lead to a longer term situation. The idea of a Stop Gap is to prevent something unwanted to occur. It is often used in business communications.
(Photograph of Vincent van Gogh, with one ear cut off)
Victoria City is a city of extremes. Mostly the culture is ‘high Victorian’, which means that it is of British Colonial heritage. The first official judge in Victoria City, according to local documentation was Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie (9 May 1819 – 11 June 1894). The Law Library at the University of Victoria, BC Canada, used to have a statue of Justice Begbie, about 7 years ago. Then something happened to the statue, which disappeared one night into thin air. This mysterious disappearance of the statue led to the resolve of the conflict between Victoria City Colonialism and one of the Indigenous tribes. Justice Begbie is known to have hung an Indigenous chief. This act of hanging the chief of a tribe, is like Nelson Mandela’s father who was a counselor to kings in South Africa, and who was virtually stripped of all his power within his village and within his tribe caused by the Apartheid Republic of South African regime. Many Indigenous individuals, and through some course work through the UVic Law Degree, draw a parallel with Apartheid South Africa and the current Canadian government. This is a subject which I will exit, because my Dutch heritage omits me from having an opinion on colonialism. Instead, I like to venture into historic accounts and learn what historians and academics had to say on the subject. I also like to explore history to find answers to our current day society. In Victoria city – the biggest divide, is in the lack of innovation and the underdevelopment of laws. Our city of Victoria is only 150 years old, that is when the city got inaugurated; and to me, that means my birth country is still in an infancy stage. The laws to protect humans are inadequate, and it is not the fault of the country to have inadequate laws. Western Europe took more than 2000 years to develop their law systems, so it is impossible for Canada to have caught up on their sophicated laws in 1/20 the amount of time. Canada is a unique country and unique laws. It will take at least another 1500 years to reach a mature stage of law creation, modification and implementation. Until that time, there will be cowboys who profit off the economical system of free entreprise and there will be citizens who suffer the consequences of the free enterprise Neo Liberal system in which so far (in 2017) is ingrained in many British Columbian’s psyches. As of July 18th, Victoria City will have a new Premier, Mr. John Horgan of the BC NDP however, in my opinion, it is going to take more then hypnotism to try to get the capitalist Neo Liberalism wolves to transform into socialist welfare state sheep.
My city. My Circus.
(Photograph of Victoria City Hall)