exploring the hearts of minds of the netherland's youth

In June i-D Netherlands spoke to a Lauren Raaijmakers, a young artist intent on capturing the spirit of her generation.

by Robin Alper
02 November 2016, 4:00pm

Where are you from and what do you do in your daily life?
I live in the southern part of the Netherlands and move myself across the country by public transport (thanks, government). My daily life is chaotic, but I like it this way. I have no constancy, no schedule or regularity, but that works perfectly for me. I get to decide what I want to do, and I always take my camera with me.

Who are the people in your photos?
They are the people whom I love, the people that I live for. At times I might take a stranger's photo, but only if they touch me. My love either comes quickly or not at all.

Why do you find these people fascinating?
I recognise parts of myself in them, so every portrait that I take is like a reflection of who I am. All these unique people have opened up to me. I think that's really beautiful. They make life worth living.

Why do you capture the moments that you spend with them?
I'm terribly afraid to grow up and forget things. I want to capture every moment, every detail, every person, every location and every party. Things change so quickly, but what I'm experiencing right now means so much to me. I never want to forget this and lose this feeling. I never want to lose these people. But I know time goes by and things will change eventually.

What's the biggest misconception that people have of our generation?
I think it's better to look at our generation in terms of the different subcultures we have. But when I look at the people around me, I feel as if they are further removed from their true selves than others might think. I think a lot of us are afraid of what the future might bring. The pressure is so high nowadays that sometimes we make wrong decisions in order to feel relief. Older people don't see this. They don't know what's really going on, and above all there's still a huge taboo on depression, addiction and self-harm.

Do you think our generation is more aware of the stuff that goes on outside of their own country?
Not always. Some people are very aware of what's going on in this world, but others deliberately choose not to know. It's so ambiguous - I can't help feeling the urge to know what's going on, but at the same time I know that ignorance is bliss. People already want us to make so many choices, so that's what we do. But there's always so much doubt that having to make these choices can be very confusing.

What do you and your friends think of the current socio-political situation?

We're all very afraid of what the future has in store for us - the debts we have when we finish studying, not being able to find a job, and having no meaning in this world — to sink into oblivion. I capture us so that last thing won't happen. I want to make sure that our faces, our expressions and our feelings won't be forgotten. I want us to be the people that will be remembered in the future. That in 50 years the youth will say: "I wish we lived in 2016."

What would you like to change about this world?
I want more love - for each other and ourselves. Besides that I'd like our beauty ideals to change. I want our society to see that you can be beautiful by just being, and that having imperfections makes you special. We have to understand that loving yourself and the people around you makes you more beautiful as a person. We shouldn't stick to the established ideas of what beauty is. We need to understand that you only have one body, and that that body should be loved and cherished. Would you rather be a woman instead of a man? Rather be a man instead of a woman? Or rather somewhere in between? Just do what you want. Do what makes you feel comfortable. You're beautiful.


Text Robin Alper
Photography Lauren Raaijmakers

best of i-d globally 2016