De Krom thinks of Hoek van Holland as a transient place, a village in an identity crisis that is forced to move with the times. Recently, the ‘Hoekse Lijn’ (the Schiedam to Hoek van Holland metro line) was opened to transport Rotterdammers to the harbour. There are also plans to build an additional 250 holiday homes and a hotel. Thirty kilometres from the Rotterdam city hall on the Coolsingel, life is different. Surrounded by the agricultural Westland area, De Krom considers Hoek van Holland to be a peculiar Rotterdam village. The ‘Hookenese’ enjoy their freedom, but are looking for certainties at the same time. The photographer never really understood the place where he was born. He left for Breda to study photography at the Sint Joost Academy, but continued to be drawn to Hoek van Holland and returned with his camera after graduating in 2010. With a sharp sense of observation, he manages to capture the stories of residents and everyday scenes with his lens. He looks for his subjects in ordinary life: sunbathers on a parking lot on a summer’s day, or a mother and her child beside a merry-go-round. He uses his clear visual language to convey a razor-sharp image of a situation. In De Krom’s series, the extreme ‘just act normal’ mentality often leads to unusual scenes.
‘Documentary photography can do with some humour’
Group behaviour, human habits and humour are the connecting themes in De Krom’s series about Hoek van Holland. He has a sharp eye for residents that deviate from the norm, such as the eleven-year-old Timon who, like an expert soldier, skulks through the streets with his homemade artillery and recruits neighbourhood children. As if they were nature films, in the Kunsthal exhibition a voice-over is commenting on the series focusing on group behaviour. While still respecting his subject, De Krom for instance reinterprets the meerkat phenomenon. From a high vantage point, stark naked men and women are observing the bathers on the beach below – meanwhile hoping for a brief and exciting encounter. He finds humour in everyday scenes: the boy lying on the beach right next to the concrete footpath, or the fifteen members of Scootrangers Maassluis who are cruising across the dyke along the coast on their mobility scooters at a maximum speed of 12 kilometres per hour.