A parking space with a parking meter, a covered row of shopping carts, a shopping mall and a group of containers for recycling paper and glass; a city scene so common in the Netherlands that it goes unremarked. Photographer Hans van der Meer visited towns throughout the Netherlands, recording scenes typical of contemporary life. Shot with great objectivity from the vantage point of his stepladder, Van der Meer focused on space and details. The places themselves are anonymous; the book consists of spreads accompanied only by a number. The street furniture we see - from the street lighting, grilles and fences, to benches, signs and so on - is chosen from international mail order catalogs. But the result is unmistakably Dutch. Architects, local councilors and project developers all clearly share the same collective, national instincts when it comes to redesigning Dutch streets. Evidently, the Netherlands can be ordered right off the shelf, judging from the catalogue in Van der Meer's book, a subtle conceptual intervention. At the back of the book is an index of pictures accompanied by texts written by the photographer. With the same objectivity as his images, the photographer is precise, never cynical - he observes but never judges.
Research & interviews: Anna Jordans
Direction & editing: Gijs Pouwels
Camera: Adriaan van de Polder