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Ronnie, 2020


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Trouw, Financieel Dagblad, Parool, de Blauwe Kamer. ND Awards


Kuala Lumpur Photography Magazine


Amsterdam City Archive (2024)

2018 - 2021

A big thank you  Ronnie. You made me laugh, taught me lessons and showed me another side of life

This portfolio and all content within this portfolio are the property of Nynke Brandsma and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws.©

​Ronnie lives on 't Landje. 't Landje is a small piece of land, located on the Westpoortweg in Amsterdam. The place is facilitated by the municipality of Amsterdam and changes location every several years. More than forty residents live on this small piece of land. They live in caravans and usually have a liberal, creative and small-scale life. It is not that they want to move every few years. They need to, as urban ground is rare and has a destination.

For many residents it is not possible to participate in normal life due to psychological problems. For some, Landje offers the solution. A place where they can 'be'; For most people without a phone and social pressure, but with the freedom to shape the life that suits them. That offers freedom and sometimes looks like a nice holiday, but think of winter, it also offers the necessary hardships.

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''t Landje, you keep calling.

I first came at 't Landje in 2008 when I had to make a documentary assignment for the Photo Academy. Curious about the place and the people, my attention was drawn to Ronnie, a ‘happy egg’ and connecting force in the field. I photographed his life for over three years. With ups and downs he tried to make a party out of every day. Ronnie was childlike, free and spontaneous. That attracted me. He made me wonder what had happened to my childish freedom. 

As time passed, I also got to know Max better. Max (27) is a special appearance. I'm having trouble understanding him. What world does he live in? Are we connecting? Max struggles with life and wants to be seen. I saw recognition in his words and since then I visit him regularly.    

Schemerparadijs is a series about a quirky and free place where residents with different backgrounds shape their lives in an alternative way. Is this a conscious choice or a flight? 't Landje forms a counterculture to life in the city and allows me to move between resistance and desire. Is this freedom? What can I learn from these people? And why do I want to go back every time?

Importance of project
In a world where societal norms often determine the path that one must follow, it is essential to ask ourselves why this standards exist at all. These standards, whether it concerns career choices, lifestyle or personal relationships, are deep rooted in our society. They are intended as a blueprint for a 'successful' and 'fulfilling' life, but with that they form inadvertently also a benchmark for judging those who deviate from this prescribed path.


While on the one hand we do our best to be distinctive, in particular in the city of Amsterdam, on the other hand, what is expected of us is normal and to remain within the standard. We stick to rules, we give it life form as it should be. Apparently it should. Because we work for the board, live in houses and sleep at night.

Max's life is in stark contrast to what many consider consider 'normal'. Instead of pursuing a traditional career pursuit, Max has taken a less conventional path. A path that breaks the chains of social expectations.

Max's story invites us to step outside our comfort zone steps, reevaluate our definitions of 'normal' and to discover beauty that exists in the margins of societal norms. By doing this, we can find a deeper connection with our shared humanity and a greater appreciation for the richness of the human experience.

By walking on the Landje, Brandsma is stimulated to think about her own life and life in general. How do people shape it? How does she shape it? What does the society expect of her? And what does she do with that thought? Does she follow her heart? Does she do what she wants? Does she have a choice? And do they have a choice at 't Landje? Is living there for Ronnie and Max freedom or a flight? What can she learn from them? And, why does she want to go back every time?
In a world where judgment often prevails, this is a reminder documentary project that we should strive to make the countless understand,  appreciate and understand the ways people live their lives to celebrate. Brandsma photographs from empathy and curiosity instead from judgment. She hopes to encourage the viewer with her work to look beyond the standard, preconceived ideas into question and embrace the diversity of human experiences.

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