Belonging | on a ferry

 

AWE
PHOTO SERIES

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

Sander Pothuizen (30) has sailed the ferry across the river Lek, between Beusichem to Wijk bij Duurstede in the Netherlands, for eight years. If it were up to him, he would do this job until retirement. “When I see the sun breaking through the clouds on an overcast day, I know I have seized the moment of the day.”

With a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, Sander looks out across the expanse of nature stretched out before him. He sits in the ferry’s control room, leaning back and turned away from the controls. He has just started the engine and the ferry is now being steered by the board computer. He looks out the window, his feet resting on the cold radiator. Before him, the spectacle of life on the Lek unfolds: hovering birds, flowing water and the rustling leaves of trees on the riverbank. A ragged  Dutch flag flutters on a flagpole. The members of a motoring club rev their engines impatiently as the ferry approaches the far bank.

 
 
When I arrive here in the morning everything around me seems muted.
 
 

Sander: “Even it is not mine, it feels like the ferry belongs to me by now. My boss only comes to watch occasionally and that makes me feel even more free. When I arrive here at half past five in the morning everything around me seems muted. I am alone and see the sun slowly rise. The colour of the water is different and I hear nothing at all. That moment of peace is beautiful. I am truly surrounded by nature. I experience all the seasons and they all have their moments of beauty. When the sun breaks through the clouds on an overcast day, or when Gijs, the greylag goose, comes alongside to eat his fill or to swim along. Then I experience my moment of the day. Or when dark clouds pass over the ferry, fantastic! Those are the beautiful things.”

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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.