400 years of a Dutch polder

RNW archive

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The polder region to the north of Amsterdam known as the De Beemster is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. De Beemster is a protected area and in 1999 was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The 72 km² region is a unique in historic terms as an example of drainage and parcelling of land for agriculture.

To celebrate the anniversary there is Beemster op de kaart gezet (Putting Beemster on the map), a project involving 40 locations in every part of the region. Until mid-October, fine historic portraits of monumental and impressive buildings will be on show a these locations, complete with information about their use, former employees and local inhabitants. There is also a special route map for cyclists and others. 

Then there is Ode aan de boeren (Ode to the Farmers), an exhibition about De Beemster which forms part of the GRID 2012 international photo biennial. GRID is organised by the Amsterdam Photo Foundation every two years and displays work by internationally renowned and promising new photographers. One of them is Dennis A-Tjak, who lives in De Beemster.

He took black and white photographs of over 50 agricultural workers from the region. They are square in shape, to reflect the pattern of paths and streets in the region. A-Tjak says he was mainly concerned with contrast and wanted to portray the farmers “in a pure way, the way they actually are.”