Otto Snoek - 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.

This publication is the result of a collaboration between Witte de With and the Rotterdam born and bred photographer Otto Snoek (1966). Snoek’s photographs are especially striking for their powerful emotional impact. For Witte de With, the challenge in the collaboration with Snoek has above all been one of content – an artist’s practice is presented in a form other than an exhibition.

The relationship between Witte de With and the inhabitants of Rotterdam is also redefined, due to the choice for this artist and his subject, his hometown Rotterdam. Two writers, both closely associated with Rotterdam were asked to respond with a short story. They are Rachida Azough (Rotterdam, 1975) and Tina Rahimy (Rezaiyeh, Iran, 1975). The book has thus taken on the form of a triptych, in which three parallel and personal stories combine to give us a portrait of Rotterdam as it is today.

For this publication Otto Snoek made a new series of photos, adding other recent (since 2006), as yet unpublished work from his long-term photo essay “Hometown” (since 1997). Central in the new works in the publication is the ‘mix’ of the 174 cultures, 50% ‘foreigners’ and 50% ‘indigenous’ citizens coexisting in Rotterdam – whether or not relating to each other.

More than other cities Rotterdam is heterogeneous in its composition, elusive, restless, full of repressed tension but still hopeful. Snoek records processes and transitions, like an all-seeing eye and he has an exceptional gift for seizing the right moment. Some images will vanish, while other, newer images will come into being, thus safeguarding his images against any easy assumptions or a priori conclusions.



Year Published

Nicolaus Schafhausen

Editor and production
Ariadne Urlus

Images by Otto Snoek, fifty-one full color photographs from the long-term photo essay “Hometown” (since 1997). All selected images are from 2006 onwards

Rachida Azough, “Meanwhile, back in Rotterdam”, Tina Rahimy, “So much to write home about”

Translations Dutch – English
Donald Gardner, Tina Rahimy

Translation German – English
Anna Schöning

Proofreading English
Zoë Gray, Angela Johnston, Monika Szewczyk

Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht

Printed & bound
Die Keure, Brugge (B)


Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam

With the support of City of Rotterdam – Dienst Kunst en Cultuur; Pact op Zuid, Rotterdam; Centrum Beeldende Kunst, Rotterdam; Foundation Volkskracht, Rotterdam.

Special thanks
Florian Waldvogel