Almere, Rotterdam, Naarden, 2007
Almere, the youngest and fastest-growing city in the Netherlands, is an urban construct. After a section of the IJsselmeer was drained, the first settlements were established on the Flevoland polder starting in 1975. Today, more than 190,000 people live in Almere. It is no coincidence that in this series Matthias Hoch trains his gaze on the ground – on the newly gained and reclaimed piece of land.
In the city center, which is dominated by a shopping complex and an oversized parking garage, an oasis of repose has been created: an island surrounded by a canal. To ensure that the shallow water doesn’t stagnate, jets have been installed to make it circulate around the island. In another picture, we see a playground with a ground cover of green synthetic material; a white concrete element replaces the stone, rock or cave one might find in nature.
“I look for visual codes that shape a city. Almere is for me a place that inspires a love/hate reaction, where developments have been anticipated rather than coming about on their own. Some things can be discerned here more clearly than elsewhere, and that makes me productive. On the other hand, I can literally feel the one-dimensionality of this city, the lack of layers of old and new that make cities that have developed organically so interesting.” (MH)
See also: Suburban Peripheries, a text by Aimée Reed, published in: Matthias Hoch, Almere, Rotterdam, Naarden, Leipzig, exhibition catalogue. Edited by Dogenhaus Galerie Leipzig; Galerie Akinci, Amsterdam; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; Rocket Press London, 2008.