Way out

Public space is often the subject of Merlijn van der Wardt’s photography. In previous series he gives a photographic account of urban developments. Aspects of cities and villages that we walk past everyday, but only attract our attention now in photos that say more about the space that isn’t there, than about the space that we can see. Also characteristic of his work is the lack of people, who, in fact, have no place in these ‘décors’. Throughout the series these rather factual registrations of human constructions gain an oppressive atmosphere exactly because there is not one reference to human life.


In the series about the polder Lopikerwaard, on which Merlijn van der Wardt is currently working, an estrangement is present, not due to a lack of people, or the oppressive atmosphere: it is precisely the vastness of the dusky landscape, in which humans are represented, as it were, by the light source providing a little guidance; and in which you suddenly realise, you rarely see this anymore in our congested and brightly lit world: a view into space, a large dark space in which there are no flats, in which no houses are visible, in which the skies are dark just as they ought to be. Merely a trail of lights give us an idea of the scale of the emptiness which is all of a sudden apparent in Lopikerwaard, near Utrecht, in the overcrowded Dutch conurbation known as the Randstad. The insignificance of humans is shown here by a small trail of light in the dark. A vain attempt to grasp a hold within the surrounding darkness. A metaphor, perhaps, for the futility of human endeavour. 


Anthon Fasel


Merlijn van der Wardt