In 2012 Maarten Boswijk travelled the coastline of Helgoland. He photographed the local residents, especially the younger generation, and captured their surroundings in stilled images that reveal a remarkable emptiness and strange poetry: what to make of a fully rigged boat serving as a plant container in the back garden, or a restaurant called Zum Seehund? Helgoland has few residents, of which many then also become tempted to move away from this remote island to the mainland. But moreover, it is an island where – due to its location and scope – for the first time systematic bird studies have been undertaken. This explains the title of the book Maarten Boswijk has composed: Where have all the songbirds gone? ( Not out of irony but simply as registration, we see a number of photographs of the birds which remain here: seagulls – cliff faces full. In this photo they appear almost like a window display, in an arrangement modelled against a wall, completed with a label; it’s a touching attempt to display what a seagull’s life entails: there is an egg, a seagull, a chick. As such it’s the image of an island where there is no reason to stay, but no cause to leave. It reveals something that, even without imagination, is easy to grasp. This photo captures that aptly: you cherish what you have, even if it’s no more than a stuffed seagull cemented to a wall.

Maarten Boswijk