/28 Leisure Time

Tom Janssen


The Dutch, known as sober-minded, as reflected in the neat and well-organized environment, make a strange contrast to all those surreal objects depicted in the photographs of Parade. Positioned within this environment the objects seem like a silent protest against conformity, and at the same time, they are a product of exactly this sober-mindedness and careful planning skills that helped shape the Dutch landscape.

Parade is as much a project about parades as it is a project about the Netherlands and the Dutch identity. With easily more than five hundred parades each year in such a small country, one can’t neglect the role they play within large parts of society.

The parades I choose to photograph consisted mainly of decorated vehicles or ‘floats’: the building of such a float takes months and stands in no comparison to the sparse hours that they roll through the streets. Although the floats themselves are of great beauty (I’d like to refer to them as temporary artworks), the real beauty can be found in the perseverance with which they are made. In this growing individualistic society it brings and binds people together, showing the universal need of people to unite.

The last few years, after finishing Parade, there have been several news items about the declining recruitment of young float builders, especially around carnival, they seem to fulfil their need to unite during the long weekend full of festivities around the parade. But it also raises a question about the willingness to commit to such a long term and intensive project in your spare time. This comes at a point in history that our attention span is declining and the search for quick and easy highs thriving. Long term commitment doesn’t seem to fit in there.

At the same time other parades seem to stay unaffected by this development. This has brought me to the start of a new project in which I will look for (groups of) people that still commit to these long term goals. The first chapter is made at eight guilds during the assembling of their float for the upcoming parade. At the moment I’m collecting other stories of devotion that can become a chapter within this work, please feel free to share any thoughts you might have on this.

For Parade I went to see around 65 parades, in the selection above you will see the following ones (in alphabetical order):

Allegorical parades in Goor and Sint Nicolaasga, Carnival parades in Grashoek, Mierlo, Ossenisse, Sweikhuizen and Weert, the Cultural history parade Brabant-day in Heeze, Flower parades in the Bollenstreek, Leersum, Vollenhove and Zundert, a Fruit parade in Tiel, a Mid-lent parade in Oss and a Theatre parade in Sint Jansklooster