Foam 3h: Sem Langendijk

Sem Langendijk's first solo exhibition, Haven, shows the result of a long-term photographic investigation into the process and effects of gentrification and the social inequality it generates. While living and working space is created for some, others are constantly forced to make room. Foam shows Haven at a time when many city dwellers are looking for affordable housing and when many Amsterdam residents can no longer afford to live in the neighbourhood they once grew up in.

Press release | Amsterdam, February 2023

Who owns the city? In his research project Haven, Sem Langendijk attempts to capture the environment of his youth: a place that no longer exists. While growing up in a community of labourers, artists, squatters and outsiders in the western harbours of Amsterdam, Langendijk saw the city slowly but surely change its course. The city’s fringe was transformed into a smoothed-out quay with a new skyline, luxury apartments and large-scale architecture. Haven examines the environments of different port cities in various phases of transition, highlighting the transformation of disused docklands and the communities that reside there — showing not only a process of urban development but also of social exclusion.

Once fallen into disuse, port areas are the type of sanctuary for creatives who, with limited resources, shape their living environment in idiosyncratic ways. Uplifting these post-industrial environments into creative hubs, it’s just a matter of time before they have to make way for new construction projects in which there is no longer room for them. With an air of nostalgia, Sem Langendijk quietly observes the process of transformation through his lens. Piecing together the mundane as silent signifiers of gentrification, his criticism lies not in the natural cycle of how cities develop, but in the loss of character and history in the current trend of large-scale re-development projects. Having photographed in Amsterdam’s ADM, the Docklands of London and Red Hook in New York, at times it’s hard to distinguish one place from another in the homogenous and anonymous architecture of glass, metal and concrete that replaces the cultural imprint these places once had.

woman with big nose ring

building with sunlight and shadows

About the artist

Sem Langendijk (1990, NL) grew up in Amsterdam's Westerdok and still lives and works in Amsterdam. He began his photographic research on the re-development of former port areas as a graduation project at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague in 2015, and in the following years, he released the three-part publication The Docklands Project, focusing on the gentrification and privatization of docklands in Amsterdam, London and New York. He brought the material from this long-term research together in 2022 in his publication Haven (The Eriskay Connection), in which the different cities merge into a penetrating documentary reflection on the process and effects of gentrification.

In his documentary photography practice, he focuses primarily on portraying places and communities, exploring what connects people to their surroundings and what gives a place meaning and character. He works primarily analogue with slow, technical cameras, typical of the contemplative observation of the environment in which Langendijk finds himself.

Foam 3h: Haven, by artist Sem Langendijk can be seen from 10 March – 18 June 2023 at Foam. Open daily 10am - 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am - 9pm.

Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+ 31 (0)20 5516500

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This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Van Bijlevelt Foundation, the Leeuwensteinstichting, the Mondriaan Fund and Kleurgamma Fine-Art Photolab.

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