Bas Princen - Rotterdam

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Rotterdam is often touted as the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in the Netherlands, and one of the most diverse in Europe, but also as an ever-changing city, as a place under constant construction. How can this condition be perceived and, furthermore, articulated? Since the fall of 2007, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art has produced a series of books focused on Rotterdam, each showcasing the vision of an artist mainly working with photography or video, who has a strong relationship to the city. Cumulatively, this loose series of artists’ books continues to bring into focus Rotterdam’s very different urban protagonists.

Witte de With and Rotterdam 2007 City of Architecture proudly present the publication ROTTERDAM, a distinguished volume containing the photo series Rotterdam by local photographer Bas Princen and the story Peripheral Pilgrimages by Ghent-based writer Christophe Van Gerrewey.

ROTTERDAM arose out of a unique commission that Witte de With extended to Bas Princen: to develop a photographic concept for the invitations and brochures that would be published in the 2006 – 2007 season. As Princen’s underlying ambition was to redefine the notion of the non-place, the photo series challenges the audience to view Rotterdam from a new angle, in terms of what it is now and what it could be. Throughout the past two years Bas Princen’s photographs have presented the peripheral areas and border zones of the city. The images focus on places and locations that, though they form part of our daily surroundings, have no place in our collective memory.

Bas Princen invited Christophe Van Gerrewey to create a text that acts in parallel to his photographic series, which has been expanded to a total of 44 pictures. In the resulting narrative, Peripheral Pilgrimages, the contemporary city emerges as a new kind of protagonist that greatly affects our relations with the world.