Sem Langendijk’s ‘Docklands’ is an ongoing research project, documenting the transition of former harbor areas in different cities of Amsterdam, New York and London. Focusing on the high demand for living near the water the project tries to get a grip on shifting social demographics, waterfront development and similarities within these cities. These cities were once the great harbors of the world, were many ships were built, this industrial labor required vast open spaces and created jobs and a community of dockworkers in nearby residences. After an era of globalization and growth, these docklands were relocated elsewhere, and the areas fell into decay.
The 1980’s marked a transition starting point, where the city councils started to re-appropriate these areas as potential housing projects for the high demands for living in the city. In the case of appropriating the city and finding new uses for the neglected warehouses and open undetermined spaces, other communities found their residence here. It is these communities, the uncontrolled appropriation and use of urban space that the project is focusing on.
Sem Langendijk (1990) has an interest in communities and their habitats, the urban environment and spatial arrangement. Growing up in the ‘hinterland’ of Amsterdam, Sem witnessed many changing sceneries throughout the years. He researches the relation between ‘home’ and public space, and what impact communities have to their environment. Interventions by individuals, which give meaning to a place, inspire him to photograph and document this kind of freedom within the structures of a city. He continues to balance his work on the very narrow edge between visual storytelling and poetic personal documentation, an often not-so-easy path to define. As an observer he remarks the details in his subjects, carefully distancing himself just enough to stay neutral in his observations. Sem Langendijk studied documentary photography at the Royal academy of Arts in The Hague, The Netherlands.