Series ’Elders’ (’Elsewhere’ english).
Living now in a city in the upper part of the Netherlands, I always am longing to return to my countryside youth in the south of Holland. Two large rivers divide roughly the north from the south. There is a difference in language, attitude as well as religion.
In this series ‘Elders’ I am wandering in my new northern habitat, which is not really mine and am sometimes received in a less welcoming way compared to what I am used to in my memories from the south. The persons I meet now remind me of before, but they I cannot reach them that easily. Is the history of Catholic versus Protestant religion causing the difference? I am still finding out..In the heart of the series, there is a coloured part. This tells the story of a catholic procession, this is meandering through the black an white images.
‘Elders’ is where I come from but also where I live now. All images taken north of the big rivers in The Netherlands
Please also be informed that this series has been bundled in a large photobook designed by SYB - Sybren Kuiper - (120 pages). see menu for link
‘We live north of the river.’ by Sytske van Koeveringe -
- words especially written for the photobook by Sytske, to accompagny my story in images -
An apple is not lesser than this girl, this girl with her blond hair, carrying signs with words in her arms, is not less than a bush, a bush not less than a tiny chicken, this double-folded tiny chicken not than this lady, this lady, somewhat leaning backwards, not less than a bale of hay, not than a cow, a cow not than fresh washed laundry, the hung-out fresh laundry in the wind not than three swans which sleep more beautiful than anyone, not than a village fair, the always still busy visited fair not than a horse, a horse not than a flowery curtain, a flowery curtain not than a witch, a witch not than a cat on a table, a cat walking on a table not than a potato, a barn filled with potatoes not than a farmer overall, an overall not less than a chandelier, a chandelier not less than a barn, a barn not less than eighty peacocks and eighty peacocks not less than the farmers yard.
Witches still exist.
The boy has the a similar haircut to the sleeves of his jacket. To me he is a boy from this area. From where he belongs, on a tractor. From which the wheels belong to his jacket and his haircut. But there is not found, where is, is not clear, has never been spoken off, or actually I would not know.
North of the river men live from which you better stay afar. The rules which ought to be clear when you meet a person at the first time they do not know off: starting with a small talk, than elaborate and finally speak about yourself.
Or immedately speak about yourself, as many do, posing a question and relate that to oneself, is an option as well.
But this man does neither. During a rendezvous he starts speaking loudly, waving his arms and giving evil looks from which grannies would be upset, granddads would not approve and from which people with children fastly pass by. As if he would not be there, would not exist.
Only after he falls asleep, with two cats as guarding dogs, in a room with flowery patterns, he becomes one of them.
There is often said that you should go ahead with time: the speediness, technology, automation and even more words which resemble highgloss laminate.
But also there are people who almost or not at all are engaged with these things. They own a dog, wet laundry on pins a clothesline, two cats or eighty peacocks.
Traces of tractor wheels are not to be found in larger towns.
But girls do live there, small dollfaced girls who live in larger towns, but also elswhere in this country, with mums, who, for special events create curls in these girls’ hairs.
He is saving money for exactly one year. No extra beers in the pub, no new clothing nor candy from the shop around the corner. All the money destined for clothing he is receiving from his mum every month, he will be saving on his bank account.
Until the first truck with parts arrive in his hometown.
Only then he will buy his first beer, to get in a mood, even though the parts have not been assembled yet. And tomorrow evening he will be working, helping his dad on the countryside.
Tomorrow evening it will not be finished either, but his friends will be there already.
To watch the attractions being assembled like in a construction box.
In two days it will be opened, he will be present as well. He is a adult young men, who, like his friends and the other people from his village as well as the houses which surround it are looking forward to this phenonemon: the village fair.
‘Village fairs and circusses appear and dissapear’.
Girls with their braided hair, mascara on their eyelashes, rouge put at their cheekbones, clothes which do not belong to them, carrying signs with words in their arms from the meaning is unknown to them. Like a woman who just delivered and receives her newborn baby into her arms.
Turn off the gas you fool
She is not only dressed like an adult, she even enjoys the sunshine as she would have been passed forty, even though she does not even knows what enjoying means.
Perhaps they do not believe. They will only decide in future what they will believe in, or they do believe, and if they will send out their children out in the streets in their immaculate costumes because this is how tradition works. And traditions you will keep. Just like the village fair returns every year.
For both sides of the river, either north of south, god is the same person.
A man (perhaps even a woman). A white or dark skin? Either with long or short, dark or blond hair. Two eyes, tall or small? A large or small and crooked nose?
A mouth, smiling, or two lips pressed together?
Two legs, two arms short or tall. With in between a large or thin torso.
For both a village as well as a large town, a country as a continent, god is the same person, but sometimes he just carries a different name.
But always he has this extrordinary good working body: never ill, has no pains, despite the lack of sleep, always fit.
He is no machine, more like the squall of the wind which reminds us that we need to bring an extra cardigan before we go out.
He is the same for all, but different for everyone since no one interprets the same word (or even tree) equally.
Sytske van Koeveringe
‘…Words written beautifully by Sytske especially for this book while reading these pictures…’. Mascha Joustra