For seven days we have bocame guests in our own city – Rotterdam. A room in the Seamen’s House (a hotel for the ship crews), right in the city centre of Rotterdam, as well as a temporary trailer-home in Rotterdam’s new industrial harbours at the Maasvlakte became at least familiar enough to achieve a sufficient level of boredom to open the mind for some light speculations. In these seven scenes of these two dramatically different places – one rooted in the popular image of Rotterdam as a port city, the other grounded in the reality of today’s technocratic, vast industrial landscape – different futures of Rotterdam as a port city are contemplated.


 

Rotterdam is one of those places still connected to the iconic image of a port city with its flows of goods, people, cultures and ideas. During the city’s period large-scale expansions in the 20th century, Rotterdam had a bold futurist image, constructed around the entanglements between the city and its harbour. Today, however, what lies ahead is less clear – the question now is how the future in this port city can be conceived.

“Being here feels like a clandestine operation. It’s a highly controlled, guarded, specialised, gigantic mono-functional landscape. In the future, these landscapes will have the lowest density of humans of any man-made assembly. […] The seagulls get more aggressive the further we encroach upon their territory. They fly low and in large numbers. They squawk. Is this a territory that operates without the city? A territory that operates globally? Is this a territory that doesn’t need the city?”

 

The resulting – somewhat unusually shaped – publication Port City Safari offers a set of speculative contemplations on Rotterdam, amidst a number of panoramic images highlighting its estranging landscapes.


  • [script and images ] Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen (STEALTH.unlimited)
  • [proofreading ] Wietske Maas
  • [graphic design ] Ajdin Bašić
  • [printed edition] FOPRMATISK, Ljubljana – 250 copies, cc by-nc-sa 2008
  • [thanks ] Nat Muller
  • [background ] Made in the context of the “Going Public ‘08. PortCitySafari”, a project by aMAZElab, Milano, in collaboration with Arnolfini, Bristol.
  • [timeline ] May – August 2008