Belonging | at a pier



By Joost Gijzel (pictures) and Anoek Hofkens (text)

Jan Hoedeman (55) casts his fishing lines at the northern pier head in Scheveningen at least once week. “This place has such a historic Dutch feel to it. It has existed for a hundred years and will still be here in another hundred.”

Jan sits on a folding chair at the pier, keeping a close eye on his fishing rods. He’s wearing a miner’s light, because it's only six in the morning and pitch black. It’s quiet - you hear nothing but the waves and the wind. “Ho!” he cries suddenly and leaps from his chair. In two strides he reaches the rod that moved. The moment he reels in the line it becomes tense. Jan pulls his catch from the sea with a single heave. “Cod!” he shouts. He grabs the fish and pushes it to the ground. “The tenderhearted should look away,” he warns. It takes four whacks of the club to beat the life out of the slippery animal.

More nationalities come here, but it doesn’t feel less like home because of it.

“This is my spot,” says Jan as he fixes new bait onto the fishing hook. “I know where to cast, where it's slippery, where I shouldn’t go and where I’m taking risks. I've been on the other side before.” He points to the southern pier end. “But it's different there. It's more Dutch, only locals fish there. More nationalities come here, but it doesn’t feel less like home because of it.”

“It gives me an enormous sense of peace to be here. When I come home after fishing, I drink a glass of red wine and take a bath. The rest of the day I feel reborn.” Gradually the pier is illuminated. The sun rises and paints the sky pink and orange. “Look, how beautiful.” Jan turns toward the light and raises his camera to take a picture. “Every time the colours and the clouds are different. It makes me so happy. Even when the weather is bad I enjoy myself. I can’t help it,” he smiles. “Even if the catch disappoints, I’ll always have photography.”


By photographing and interviewing different kinds of people who feel at home in the Netherlands, photographer Joost Gijzel and journalist Anoek Hofkens show how diverse the Dutch society is. The question 'Where does someone belong?' is difficult to answer. It’s not necessarily the place where someone was born or where someone is meant to be. Where you belong is the place you long for at times when you’re not there.