Désirée van Hoek is an professional 49 years old photographer based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Désirée studied painting, computer design and photography at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. After working for 15 years as a fashion photographer, she switched to documentary photography in 2008. For her “Skid Row” series, Désirée van Hoek documented life on the streets in the city of angels. The project includes an introduction by Gale Holland, Skid Row reporter of the ‘Los Angeles Times’.
Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles is one of the poorest neighborhoods in America. It has a population of 15.000 people, many of whom are (formerly) homeless. Some of the residents live permanently on the streets, others in cheap hotel rooms and apartments, which are run by missions and charities.
I ran into the neighborhood by chance in 2008. As a photographer, I have always been interested in the way people live. So I started by photographing people’s belongings, and the tents, lean-tos and bedrolls they call home. To me, these objects say a lot about people’s identity. Later, I started photographing people, and streets, buildings and structures in the neighborhood to provide a sense of history and place. I also hinted at the recent gentrification of Downtown LA, that threatens the identity of Skid Row.
-Désirée van Hoek