A photographic road movie.
For the past two years I've been working on my photo series Truckers Paradise. For this project I travelled along with lorry drivers on international runs. My project began as a documentary on the long-haul trucker and the world of international transport. Gradually my research shifted to a more personal vision on the subject. During my trips with them, the romance of a mobile existence and the motorway gradually became more important than documentary research on the lorry drivers themselves. En route I was amazed at how these men live; always rushed to deliver their cargo on time and under the pressures of their job, the endless time away from home, the many rules and laws.
My personal experiences with the truckers' world and the drivers themselves are contradictory. On the one hand these men work an exhausting schedule, with a workweek of about 80 hours for a minimum income. On the other hand, they experience their work as freedom, and by their own account live for the motorway. The romantic sense of being ‘On The Road’ became the theme of my series. The ‘little paradise’, the cab, became the starting point for my photography. Beginning there, I take you, the viewer, along for the ride.
Truckers Paradise is not fiction. It is the world of motorway culture.
The trip is defined by the lorry driver and the route of the cargo. It is a hidden world that exists only in the vicinity of the driver. The motorway culture that I depict is a very specific world, concentrating on the long-haul trucker. One could say it is a subculture within the motorway culture.
My photographic vision is that of a visual artist. In order to discover the world of the motorway and the lorry driver I have chosen a documentary strategy. The images move between the cab, the road that lies before us and the various lay-bys and meeting places along the motorways. The series is constructed like a road movie in which the photos function like film stills. In order to enhance the sense of travelling, I have opted for the aesthetic of the road movie. The cinematic character of the photographs, and the search for circumstances that refer to what has happened or might still happen tempt one to create an associative story.
The romance of being on the road, of the solitude but at the same time the desire for freedom, is emphasised because the road is empty in my pictures. Being under way is a metaphor for life itself. It is an ode to the romance of the motorway culture.
1. For more information see: S. Valkenburg, De romantiek van de vrachtwagenchauffeur & De beleving van de snelweg, Arnhem, 2008