Hollandse Wijzen [‘Dutch Wise Old Ways’] is a participatory photography project for and by senior citizens of diverse backgrounds. It is a nationwide collaboration involving hundreds of retired folk from over 24 different cultures. The activities take place in temples, mosques, churches and museums. They are small-scale in the sense that each time two contrasting groups of five people participate. Participants get to know each other intimately during the process. Award-winning photographer Peter van Beek offers these participants a free photography course consisting of four 90-minute sessions. During the process they talk about culture, tradition, and origin. Already during the second session, participants go on a fieldtrip in their province or town to meet and photograph seniors of a contrasting background. For example, Iranian seniors in the southern town of Veghel went to the nearby city of Breda to meet and photographed Catholic nuns. Hindustani elderly from Utrecht went to visit the Roma community in Nieuwegein. Older Chinese stepped into the highly traditional world of Staphorst.
Peter van Beek (1965) first trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked in health care environments for 15 years. He subsequently trained as an art educator and professional photographer at two different art academies. Since 1997 he has been a full-time photographer with a special interest in different cultures. His publication The good, the bad and the Roma, was voted one of the best Dutch photo books of the year in 2014.