Everything in this photo – the harried VVD members, the abandoned coffee bar, the extra – comes straight out of a mediocre play

The Image Makers section examines how a photo influences our view of reality. This week: a scene from a play The Formation.

Merel Bem

A variant of this photo appeared in the newspaper on Wednesday. Then Geert Wilders strode past, with file folders under his arm, security guards around him and Fleur Agema behind him. That photo was already good, but there turned out to be an even better one. That was this one. Dilan Yesilgöz sails past here, with an uncomfortable-looking Sophie Hermans in her wake. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

There was a third photo that David van Dam took at this location, as was evident from the images on offer. It was taken a few moments earlier, the camera turned slightly. This third image shows Yesilgöz walking through the glass door on the right with the exact same grin. She looks straight into the camera. Behind her you can just see a part of Hermans.

That is the least of the three. It is, with all due respect of course, ‘just’ a photo of politicians in The Hague in the corridors, while the other two, and especially the image above, are theater.

Leave it to Van Dam to find the best place in The Hague during the endless formation discussions, in this case somewhere in the House of Representatives building. During the 2021 formation talks, he also had such an A-location: a high-altitude flat overlooking the courtyard of Het Logement, where the then outgoing ministers Carola Schouten and Wouter Koolmees, extinguished and gathered, had a cigarette through the back door. came to smoke.

And now this. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t remember seeing this coffee bar so prominently displayed before. Quite a fresh-looking stall in itself, with those green tiles and the word ‘COFFEE’ in those illuminated letters that were in a decade ago, but no longer, which creates a reassuringly approachable atmosphere.

However, the tent is awfully closed, and there is no pleasant coffee maker to be found anywhere. And if you look longer, you will feel stuffy, because the coffee bar seems to be wedged tightly between the tiled floor and suspended ceiling. The piece of brutalist concrete next to it turns out (which can be seen in the photo with Wilders) to be a piece of a wall; in reality the corridor opens up there. But in the photo with Yesilgöz it compresses the space even more.

All those details are important. Together they form a stage setting. The photographer saw that well; he first determined the location and then the frame of his photo.

We see an abandoned coffee bar, a set piece dug up from the depot that is finally allowed to participate again. The man in the white jacket is an underpaid extra who hopes to break through in Hollywood in a few years.

Lead actor: Dilan Yesilgöz, with Sophie Hermans in a brilliant supporting role. The actors walk across the stage from right to left. They play in the play that The Formation is hot and has been staged for months with limited success.

DILAN: (she takes long, energetic steps, her smile reveals that she is clearly aware of the audience) ‘Keep walking, Sophie. Geert is waiting for us and you know what he is like when there are no cameras around.’

SOPHIE: (panting in stiletto heels and carrying a heavy handbag, the comic relief of the scene) ‘Di, seriously, I put on the wrong shoes this morning. And I literally still haven’t had any coffee… Oh, look! Poop, close.”

But seriously, David van Dam only took three photos in this spot? If I were him, I would sleep there. Unless he comes up with something much better later.