Flevoland .NL 2010-2016
4 x 5-inch negatives | Limited edition prints available
If anything, freedom is what you feel when first confronted with the Dutch Flevo polders. Freedom and perhaps a sense of being lost in space. The low horizons, immense skies, and endless perspectives are that of a desert landscape – albeit with a human element. But how do interpret such a unique landscape? How to settle and live there?
Reclaiming land is a centuries-old tradition in the Netherlands. In the last century, it peaked in size made possible by technical innovations. Land reclamation had often been a strategy by which landowners extended their holdings, an investment by rich merchants, or was a public undertaking. In the case of the IJsselmeerpolders, the Dutch government wanted to safeguard food provision for the nation by providing agricultural land; later, urban development became an important motive.
The IJsselmeerpolders—Wieringermeerpolder (constructed 1927–1930), Noordoostpolder (1937–1942), Oostelijk Flevoland (1950–1957), and Zuidelijk Flevoland (1959–1968)—provide almost ten percent of the total arable land in the country today.
Freedomland is a visual journey into a highly regulated- man-made land; captured between forces of order and space, concept and execution, authority and freedom – and expressed as a new conceptual territory.
The project aims to be a mirror of this powerful geopolitical process of landscape and social engineering; a photographic journey back in time through the three main spatial and historical contexts of Flevoland: Almere, Lelystad and the Noordoostpolder.
Denis observed and documented this process for years. He shows in his photos how the new land is being structured and prepared for use, how diverse dreams become reality, and how different ideas of freedom are being expressed. Ranging from the vacant land’s inherent promise to the diversity of realized projects, the photos show different forms and phases of this fundamentally malleable landscape.
Next to the sociological and historical interest, the main theme in this series is Denis's concern for man’s interaction with nature and engagement with a sustainable society. Beyond presenting a personal view on liberties and limitations in the Dutch polder and urban landscape, this series is an attempt to start a debate on how city and landscape, man and nature can coexist.