In Front of the Camera

July 2, 2011 – Oct. 2, 2011 Deze tentoonstelling is afgelopen
Henk Wildschut
The photography exhibition ‘Crisis!' at the Kunsthal Rotterdam provides an up-to-date illustration of the economic crisis in the Netherlands. At the request of regional authorities, twelve Dutch photographers, including both established names and new talent, have captured on camera the problems and opportunities arising from the current crisis.

Countless symptoms such as the strong desire for a national identity, hidden and visible poverty, and bankruptcy have been recorded in over a hundred and fifty documentary photographs. The exhibition presents a surprisingly varied impression of the consequences of this crisis on a human scale, from people's altered living and working circumstances to portraits of actively involved citizens and officials.

The Human Scale

Crisis! illustrates, from a range of perspectives, how various groups of people are experiencing the crisis in the Netherlands, which problems are involved and what solutions have been proposed to deal with them. Inspired by August Sander's ‘Pepole of the Twentieth Century', Judith van IJken has created portraits of the people of Amersfoort (the Netherlands) and examines the Dutch national identity as a response to the crisis. Photographer Henk Wildschut approaches the crisis in a different way, turning his camera towards North Amsterdam and the active ‘meeting culture' that has formed among various groups there in order to solve the problems of the district they live in. 

Petra Stavast takes a close look at companies that have gone bankrupt and their effects. Her photographic study illustrates, for example, how small independent companies have benefitted from the crisis thanks to the countless auctions that have resulted. Other developments that are explored include the social role that the food bank in Walcheren plays in the lives of its customers, the ancillary lines of business that agricultural companies in Zeeland have begun ‘in order to survive', changes that have taken place in the provincial town of Stadskanaal in southeast Groningen - one of the poorest areas in the Netherlands - compared with those that took place during the recession in the 1980s, and alternative ways to keep money safe following consumers' distrust of banks.

Historical document

The Crisis! project was initiated by the former ‘intendant documentary photography' of the Fonds BKVB (Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture) in order to create a photographic record of this era, as did the American FSA (Farm Security Administration) during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Photography commissions that record processes of change, urban phenomena, the living circumstances of various groups of people, and altered landscapes are of great social and historical importance. With this project, the Fonds BKVB hopes to give documentary photography a new impulse and stimulate potential clients.


The exhibition is accompanied by a publication in the form of a newspaper.


The exhibition is an initiative by, and was made in collaboration with the Fonds BKVB (Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture).

10. Crisis! Judith van IJken - LR.jpg
Judith van IJken
06. Crisis! Petra Spiljard.JPG
Petra Spiljard