Freek Van Arkel

Report Rotterdam

A quarter of a century on the same subject is unheard of. But what a subject. The most gigantic port in Europe. The most spectacular among the means of transport between the industries and trade of northern Europe and the rest of the world.
Freek van Arkel has clambered on port cranes and every type of ship multiplying his points of view; time has given him insight, expertise and the trust of his subjects, and therefore he has been granted exceptional access. Camera angles convey the dynamics of endless motion and show the prodigious logistics behind this gigantic water ballet.

8 minutes permanent projection.

Boatman mooring a crude oil carrier at the Maasvlakte Olie Terminal.
During tv-interview about being a photographer in the port, 2003

Arriving the Maasvlakte with the 396 meter large container carrier Estelle Maersk, port of Rotterdam, 2011

ECT - Europe Container Terminals, port of Rotterdam, 2008

Ironworker in a ship's bow, municipal archives, port of Rotterdam, 1988

Arriving of the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise with two tugs, newspaper "De Volkskrant", port of Rotterdam, 1992

Born in 1959 in Apeldoorn.
Leaves and works in the Netherlands.


Report Rotterdam is a book published in 2012, composed with 25 years of Freek van Arkel's harbour photography and ten stories by Dirk van Weelden in Dutch and in English, with edit and graphic design by Yvo Zijlstra.
The harbour is a world of its own. Human rhythms and dimensions, needs and idiosyncrasies are worth nothing here. Here, the economic demands of shipping and international trade and the highly efficient mechanics of storage and transport prevail. The city and its people are nowhere to be seen.
For 25 years, Freek van Arkel has photographed the Rotterdam harbour, and is one of the few who can give us a peek into a world that is so close, and yet so far away. Report Rotterdam details the life of a photographer and gives a multi-faceted picture of a strange and exciting realm.
In ten stories, Dirk van Weelden recounts the days he spent with Freek van Arkel, cross-examining him, but also what he saw around him, and the people he spoke with in drydocks, on quays, in front of computer screens and on tugboats.
Our daily life is unthinkable without what goes on in the Rotterdam harbour. It is the engine room of the economy. The city derives a large part of its history,
mentality and cultural diversity from its entanglement with the harbour. It makes Rotterdam Rotterdam, unique from all other cities in the Netherlands.
As Bram Peper, former mayor of Rotterdam, writes in his foreword: "This book reveals not only the largest harbour and the artistic beauty that characterises Freek van Arkel's work; it is also an incentive to explore 'behind-the-scenes' at Rotterdam's harbour. Something that would benefit us all in the Netherlands."

Freek van Arkel

Fotografie / Photographs
© Freek Van Arkel, Rotterdam