Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Jeroen Hofman

Playground #1

Playground #2

Playground #3




Playground #7

Playground #8

Playground #9

Jeroen Hofman

PLAYGROUND My new project is called Playground. The Netherlands have several training facilities where members of the Fire Brigade, the Police Force and the Ministry of Defense are trained and prepared for a wide range of possible scenarios. Within the boundaries of these grounds it’s all just practice or ‘play’. Outside of them however, things are a lot more serious. My aim was to capture these facilities and the people who are trained there. GHOST TOWN Training facilities like these have a very basic and functional design. Factories and houses have been recreated to make training conditions as realistic as possible, but unlike a real town they are completely devoid of any personal decorations or human touch. This makes for a completely surreal atmosphere like that of a ghost town. PROCEDURE I employed quite a static approach using a large format camera, a tripod and a cherrypicker, to position myself over the terrain. My aim was to get the best possible perspective on ‘the game’ inside a broad view of the training facilities. Light conditions were crucial in all of this, which meant I did not always get the desired result right away and in some instances had to return to the same position several times. I originally started out photographing at a training facility for industrial fire fighting in Rotterdam. These first images were framed in such a way as to create the illusion of reality. After gaining access to more and more of these types of facilities I gradually started distancing myself from the exercises that were taking place in front of me. I named my project Playground to emphasize the fact that different services get to practice various scenarios in a controlled environment without any real threat to the safety and lives of their personnel. This project addresses much more than just a few training facilities in The Netherlands. It is about risk-analysis, conformity in groups and my personal view of that hidden world.