The spaces in the photographs of Beneden/below (2015) are located in the basement of a block of flats in Arnhem, the Dutch town I left behind when I moved to London in 1984.

This building was once the head office of a large multi-national, with the basement spaces functioning as plant rooms, as well as having been designed to operate as a hospital in the event of a nuclear attack in the Cold War years.

The first time I recorded ‘below’, the plant rooms were in the process of being stripped of machinery; obsolete equipment, cables, pipes, fuseboxes, switches and miscellaneous debris filled the rooms lit by fluorescent strip lights. When I returned four months later, the spaces had been cleared; sections of walls had been knocked out and holes appeared where pipes and cabling once ran.

The raw beauty of these bleak rooms without windows seemed like film sets of the imagined nuclear shelters of my 1980s teenage mind, when World War III seemed imminent. They also exhibited interior design elements similar to those in 17th century Dutch paintings of domestic scenes by De Hooch and Vermeer and their contemporaries: open doorways, high ceilings and the pattern of the black and cream-coloured floor tiles.

Photographs from Beneden were exhibited in situ at De Grote Enk, Arnhem, the Netherlands throughout 2015. Three photographs from Beneden are included in the spring 2017 issue of the journal Confingo (issue 7).

With kind thanks to Jan van den Broek and all at De Grote Enk, Arnhem, the Netherlands.


Roelof Bakker Beneden

Beneden Roelof Bakker Below Arnhem Netherlands

Beneden below Roelof Bakker

Photographs from Beneden