The first world is pictured as a place free of pollution, insecurity, and problems. While the Netherlands’ environmental policies are great, Marth Echevarria felt that individuals have become complacent because of this. With this photo series, she hopes to break the clean illusion by capturing the waste of Amsterdam.
One imagines the developed countries, or those which were once called “first world”, as places free of pollution, insecurity, and problems. However, I realised that those ideas were drawn into my imaginary only because there is an ideal of representing certain places as clean and proper, while others dirty and uncivilised. I was inspired to take this photo series not because I wanted to make a criticism of the city of Amsterdam, but because I wanted to break the illusionary and imagined place that we’ve all created in our minds about this city.
I have to admit that what I’ve seen of the Netherlands’ environmental policies is great. They have the most advanced technology installed everywhere in the country in order to reduce the country’s carbon print. However, it seems to me that these great efforts made by the country are only distancing the individual from making small, daily acts for keeping their cities clean.
When I first decided to make a photo series on the trash in Amsterdam, I thought it would be an incredibly hard challenge. Yet, it took me no more than a few blocks to find piles of trash, boxes, and bags all cornered up in the city centre. This proved my point. Our current representation of big and developed cities is quite inaccurate and in order for us to make a change, we first need to be aware of the actual issue. Through these photos I propose that we see Amsterdam through a realistic lens, and not with indignation, but with a motivated spirit.
This article is in collaboration with RAW, Amsterdam University College’s Photography Committee. Photos and text by Martha Echevarria.
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