Netherlands: Beneath Its Tropes, Cliches, and Impressions

The way the Netherlands is depicted in images and paintings usually include idyllic scenery filled with windmills, cows, and tulips. But Dutch photographer Reinjan Mulder thought that this wasn't what the Netherlands really looked like.

So he embarked on a journey across the Netherlands to capture its real essence in images. The photos he took were compiled in his project, Objective Netherlands. Not a lot of people took notice of it, but those who did, such as Cleo Wachter and Berno Strootman, now want to update it to show the changes that have occurred in the Netherlands 43 years later.

As 26-year-old Dutch photographer Cleo Wächter explains, Mulder was interested in the way landscape paintings were rich in clichéd images. “In the Netherlands, that often meant windmills, cows, a small road leading to the horizon,” says Wächter. “So Mulder said, ‘This is not what the Netherlands looks like.’”
Just one year out of school, her work caught the eye of landscape architect Berno Strootman, the Dutch government’s Chief Advisor on the Built and Rural Environment, who had seen Mulder’s original Objective Netherlands at the Rijksmuseum.
Strootman commissioned Wächter to update Mulder’s original project, following in his footsteps to show what had changed in the Netherlands’ landscape in 43 years. It became, as Wächter puts it, “a conversation between two moments in time.”

(Image credit: Reinjan Mulder, Cleo Wachter)


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