Sem Langendijk (1990) has an interest in communities and their habitats, the urban environment and spatial arrangement. Growing up in the ‘hinterland’ of Amsterdam, Sem witnessed many changing sceneries throughout the years. He researches the relation between ‘home’ and public space, what impact communities have to their environment and how space functions within the structures of a city. He continues to balance his work on the very narrow edge between visual storytelling and poetic personal documentation. As an observer, he carefully distances himself from his subjects to stay neutral in his observations and raise questions. His photography has a poetic visual language that grows on you while taking a closer look at his work.
Docklands is an ongoing research, documenting the transition of former harbor areas in different cities.
Focusing on the high demand for living near the water the project tries to get a grip on shifting social demographics, waterfront development and similarities within these areas. Amsterdam, New York and London were once among the great harbors of the world, where many ships were built. This industrial labor required vast open spaces and created jobs and a community of dockworkers in nearby residences. After an era of globalization and growth, these docklands were relocated elsewhere and the areas fell into decay.
The 1980’s marked a transition starting point, where the city councils started to re-appropriate these areas as potential housing projects for the high demands for living in the city.
In the case of appropriating the city and finding new uses for the neglected warehouses and open undetermined spaces, other communities already found their residence here. It is these communities, the uncontrolled appropriation and use of urban space that the project is focusing on.
With LOT, the project focuses on New York, questioning the function of public space within the residential area in Red Hook. A mix of landscapes, people and details of these exteriors reflect the current state of this neighborhood, with its contrasts and diversity.
To view more of Sem’s work please visit his website.