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  • Foto van schrijverErik van Cuyk

Work in progress: 'PLAYGROUND'

Bijgewerkt op: 6 jan. 2021

What if I say I'm not like the others?

What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?

You're the pretender.

What if I say that I will never surrender?”

From: ‘The Pretender” DAVE GROHL | FOO FIGHTERS


Just one week before corona lock down, end of februari 2020, I started a new project called 'PLAYGROUND 2020', about young urban street culture in the Netherlands.

Urban sport culture in th eNetherlands; photography; fine art; Erik van Cuyk photographer
‘Siem’ Age: 16 | Skater | Park ‘Burnside’ Deventer | 2020-03-10

From Groningen (North-East Netherlands) to Goes (Zeeland, South-West) or from The Hague to Amsterdam, I capture Dutch urban youth with my mobile street studio. We meet under bridges, tunnels, train viaducts, etc.

Portrait shoot in Groningen
Groningen | 06 - 05 - 2020

All the models are between 16 and 22 years old. They usually spend a lot of time outside, as they are skaters, free runners, street car racers, BMX’ers. Some just hang outside with their friends. Whereas a part just is there to have fun, is another part very serious. For example, they compete in the dutch championships or tour around the world with showcases at urban sports events.

The models construct their own world, away from home. They use the public space often differently than it was intended for. I regard this as creating their own path in search for identity and meaning.

This generation notices how empty the materialism and cut-throat competition on which society is based. Perhaps the COVID-19 era makes that even clearer…

The great thing about urban youth sporters like skaters or freerunners is that they map out their own path with their strength, guts and ambition. It's not easy, but they still push the boundaries of their own body, mind and the space around them.

Photo concept: Diptychs.

I use a basic classic light setup with one light source (Rembrandt light) and a black background. That creates timelessness and universality, and fits the theme of generation conflict. With a black background, without context in the image, full attention is paid to the human soul. This is enhanced by the medium-close framing. The context is given, but abstracted from the portrait and placed next to each portrait. A photo of a location where the young person is a lot, which is the public space. Empty, without people and as still as an abandoned landscape, which provides reflection. On society and the role of young people.

The images will eventually be presented as diptychs (expo and photobook with approx. 50 portraits / and approx. 10 diptychs, 100cm x 150cm) in an exhibition). A portrait on one side and the location image on the other.

Free runner Kasper from Arnhem portrait
'Kasper' (19) | Freerunner | Arnhem Train Station | 13 - 03 - 2020

In the world of young urban sporters there is no discrimination, no exclusion. Everyone can participate, old helps young. Friendship and sharing are important values. There is freedom, there is no fake.

While society, the machine called the economy, is pulling them, they keep resisting...

Skater Floor from Rotterdam
'Floor' (20) | Skater | Rotterdam | 26 - 03 - 2020

The PLAYGROUND project is running until december 2020. Somewhere early 2021 it will be published (Photobook & EXPO).

If you want more information on this project just email me:

Erik van Cuyk

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