The Naval Base – Rob Hornstra

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The book The Naval Base (De Marinebasis in Dutch) is a photobook that is part of a project and exhibition of Rob Hornstra. The subject of the book the Den Helder, the city in the north-west of the Netherlands that hosts the largest Dutch naval base since 1947.      

The city’s economy and social structures became dependent on the naval base, but in the past decades defense budget cuts and technical development in defense have led to a sharp decrease in the number of defense-related jobs in the small city of Den Helder.

The book documents the city in 2021. The pictures by Rob Hornstra, and the accompanying texts by Arnold van Bruggen breath the atmosphere of a city in decline, and a city wit an ageing population. The deadpan and unadorned pictures of the city and its inhabitants are tastefully combined with the texts. There is some positive news as well: the fresh air in the city is unique, and the opportunities for tourism are largely unexplored.

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