In this beautiful executed little book one is struck not only by the subject but also by the care with which the photoreportage is arranged and handled. On a tiny island in the river Noord near Dordrecht, the family of Hannie de Vos and her children have to make way for ‘new nature’, a government scheme that aims to restore parts of the countryside to the ‘old nature’ that was there before humans got their hands on it.
By documenting the life that exists here now – which in itself means looking back to times gone by – this project creates a double nostalgia. Every carefully designed page exudes a sense of transience, longing and vulnerability at the same time as the book sings the praises of the family’s untidy, untrammelled, untouched and bucolically bohemian life. The colours are soft and some of the photographs are already fading. The texts are printed on slightly translucent paper.
That this life here should have to disappear is a grotesque, absurd intervention by the powers that be which arouses a sense of impotent rage. At the same time this little book is so full of love, right down to the last millimetre, that one is left brimming with poetic sadness.