‘Het moet anders’ (time to change) is a sentence photographer Hans van der Meer has heard more than once during his visits to farmers throughout the Netherlands. With his latest book and exhibition Van der Meer shows us the remarkable world of dairy farming. Time to Change offers a fascinating insight into the lives of cows and the changing countryside, while at the same time questioning the industry’s current state and future.  

Over the past few decades, the gap between the consumer and the world of the cow has been growing and growing. Hans van der Meer lives in the centre of Amsterdam, but when his farmer friend Jaap Hemke goes on holiday, Hans looks after the farm. He has been doing this for nearly twenty years, stimulating a deep interest and a particular insight into dairy farming. Through photography, film and writing Van der Meer examines the world around him. In Time to Change he is looking at and thinking about cows and consequently dairy farming, animal welfare, hi-tech food production and its impact on the environment. Van der Meer’s pictures are the trigger for a series of observations highlighting the complexity of modern farming. In addition, he asked farmers and innovators the question how to continue and in which direction. In many of the photos the cow looks puzzled. Or is it that she’s questioning us? How will we be shaping the future in food production? And what will the role of the animals be in it?

A few years ago, the Netherlands Fotomuseum invited Hans van der Meer to create a photo series inspired by Cas Oorthuys’ book Rundvee (1948) in their collection. This triggered the project Time to Change. In 2016, a preview of the project was shown at the Fries Museum, accompanied by a series of columns in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. The exhibition and newspaper series both included texts and photographs by Van der Meer, addressing issues like permaculture, health issues and milk production.

The exhibition is currently on show at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar (until 28 October). The book is now available in specialised book shops and in the YdocStore webshop (language: Dutch and English, price: €34.50)

In addition to photographs and texts, Van der Meer made a series of short films. The video below shows the process of hoof and claw cutting with a special machine, a necessary task to keep the cow’s hoofs healthy. It was done by hand for a long time, technological progress increased productivity.

Authors

Hans van der Meer (b. 1955) studied photography at MTS in The Hague, followed by a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He is probably best known for his series on amateur football, Dutch Fields (1998) and European Fields (2006, published by Steidl/MACK). In 2009, Camera Austria hosted a retrospective of his work. Through photography, film and writing Van der Meer examines the world around him. For example, his images of amateur football are also an exploration of human nature within the landscape. In The Netherlands – Off the shelf (2012) he wryly observes the increasingly homogenous built environment of provincial Dutch towns. With his latest project, Time to Change Van der Meer shows us the remarkable world of dairy farming. Hans van der Meer is based in Amsterdam and teaches at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

website

Platforms

Photographing a cow, Damwoude (2015)
Photographing a cow, Damwoude (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
Pregnant Jersey cow, Smallebrugge (2015)
Pregnant Jersey cow, Smallebrugge (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
Nes, Peenstra (2015)
Nes, Peenstra (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
Grass in a barn, Heidenskip (2015)
Grass in a barn, Heidenskip (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
Koudum (2015)
Koudum (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
Hoeve Biesland, Delfgauw (2017)
Hoeve Biesland, Delfgauw (2017)
© Hans van der Meer
The New Dutch Cow -
Nellie 50, 87,5% Holstein Frysian, 12,5% MRY
Zuiderwoude (2017)
The New Dutch Cow - Nellie 50, 87,5% Holstein Frysian, 12,5% MRY Zuiderwoude (2017)
© Hans van der Meer
Testing equipment at Dairy Campus, Leeuwardem (2015)
Testing equipment at Dairy Campus, Leeuwardem (2015)
© Hans van der Meer
The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Roel Backaert
Installation view The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Installation view The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Roel Backaert
Installation view The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Installation view The Cow, Past Grazing at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar
Roel Backaert
Hans van der Meer's video works are presented on one monumental screen and six smaller monitors.
Hans van der Meer's video works are presented on one monumental screen and six smaller monitors.
Roel Backaert
270 cows of Siem de Boer walking back to the farm.
270 cows of Siem de Boer walking back to the farm.
Roel Backaert
The exhibition contains photographs in various sizes, concerning four main subjects.
The exhibition contains photographs in various sizes, concerning four main subjects.
Roel Backaert
Entering the exhibition space at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.
Entering the exhibition space at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.
Roel Backaert
The exhibition is accompanied by an audiotour and an educational programme.
The exhibition is accompanied by an audiotour and an educational programme.
Which choices do we make? Interactive element in the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.
Which choices do we make? Interactive element in the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.
Roel Backaert
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
Hans van der Meer, 'De Koe', Fries Museum, 26.03 - 05.06-2016
© Hans Jellema

Exhibition

From 30 June until 28 October Hans van der Meer’s new work will be on show at the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar in the exhibition ‘De koe, het grazen voorbij’, designed by Kummer & Herrman.

A preview of the project, the exhibition ‘De Koe’ (‘The Cow’), was on show at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden in the spring of 2016. In the framework of the project De Mix, the Nederlands Fotomuseum and Rafaël Philippen invited Hans van der Meer to make a photoseries inspired by the 1948 book on cattle by photographer Cas Oorthuys. The project was supported by the Mondriaan Fund.

Van der Meers photographic research includes not only cows and meadows, but also discussions about milk quota, phosphate ceiling and intensive cattle farming. A process that started in the late forties, early fifties, when Oorthuys made his photographs.

 

 

Book cover Time to Change
Book cover Time to Change
Looking for the Golden Calf, spread from the book
Looking for the Golden Calf, spread from the book
Looking for the Golden Calf, column by Hans van der Meer
Looking for the Golden Calf, column by Hans van der Meer
The book contains five interviews with dairy farmers and innovators about the future of dairy farming.
The book contains five interviews with dairy farmers and innovators about the future of dairy farming.
Pregnant Jersey Cow, Smallebrugge (2015) 
Spread from the book
Pregnant Jersey Cow, Smallebrugge (2015) Spread from the book

Time to Change

Designed by Kummer & Herrman, the book includes 54 photographs by Hans van der Meer, accompanied by 27 columns linking the present to the past and future of dairy farming. The book also includes 10 videos by Van der Meer, which readers can access on their phone by scanning the QR codes.

Language: Dutch and English, price: € 34,50

Buy
  • Hans van der Meer (Photography, video, text)
    Kummer & Herrman (Design)
    Marijn Heemskerk (Text editor)

Het moet anders #1, De Volkskrant, 30 March 2016
Het moet anders #1, De Volkskrant, 30 March 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #2, De Volkskrant, 13 April 2016
Het moet anders #2, De Volkskrant, 13 April 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #3, De Volkskrant, 27 April 2016
Het moet anders #3, De Volkskrant, 27 April 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #4, De Volkskrant, 11 May 2016
Het moet anders #4, De Volkskrant, 11 May 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #5, De Volkskrant, 25 May 2016
Het moet anders #5, De Volkskrant, 25 May 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #6, De Volkskrant, 8 June 2016
Het moet anders #6, De Volkskrant, 8 June 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #7, De Volkskrant, 22 June 2016
Het moet anders #7, De Volkskrant, 22 June 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #8, De Volkskrant, 5 July 2016
Het moet anders #8, De Volkskrant, 5 July 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #9, De Volkskrant, 19 July 2016
Het moet anders #9, De Volkskrant, 19 July 2016
© Hans van der Meer
Het moet anders #10, De Volkskrant, 2 August 2016
Het moet anders #10, De Volkskrant, 2 August 2016
© Hans van der Meer

Editorial

In 2016, in conjunction with his exhibition at the Fries Museum, Hans van der Meer wrote a fortnightly series in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. Through text and images, Van der Meer tells the story of the changing world of the cow.

News

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Events

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In the media

  • Het gras van de koe is niet groener

    Parool Read more »
  • Fotograaf Hans van der Meer laat zien hoe boeren denken

    Merel Bem, De Volkskrant, 18 maart 2016 Read more »

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