De Luister van het Land is a personal selection from Spaarnestad Photo, an archive of over eleven million press and documentary photographs spanning the twentieth century and before.
What strikes one immediately is the sheer number of photographs and the absence of any accompanying commentary. The reader has to make shift with captions, but even these are sparse: most of the images have nothing but a number. One panel member was irritated that the photographs are printed in colours as a way of breaking the book up into categories with titles like Flora, Impressies and Artefacten. Others, by contrast, found this perfectly agreeable. The Spaarnestad Photo archive consists largely of monochrome images and it is a bold move to print them in PMS colours, the photos in one category being bright green and those in another dark blue. It is precisely this differentiation by colour that reminds us of what we do when we go through such a large archive: we select.
Some spreads are interrupted by fictitious (they are overprinted) black-and-white pages that are a size smaller and have their own page numbering. After a while you realize that in each of these we see the same person. It is the artist Koen Hauser, who has photoshopped himself into the images.
This is a fascinating book which, thanks to its ostensibly arbitrary selection of photos, coupled with the absence of chronology, constantly invites one to leaf back and forth within it.