The Heavy Loads of Our World - Continuation

With the continuation, I want to focus on the human aspect in this world and give the industry a face by documenting the lives of seafarers aboard such massive ships, including the challenges they face. I want to specifically focus on this group as they are often overlooked, despite being quite literally the engine of our global economy. Without seafarers, there would be no smartphones, washing machines, pens, or office chairs.

I want to achieve this by actually following a group. The idea is to board one of these gigantic container ships and sail roundtrip from Europe to Asia and back. Such a journey takes around 80 days, which would give me enough time to get to know the crew aboard such a ship and document their lives. This way, I can capture the daily struggles they face and interview the crew about their perspectives, aiming to change the Western gaze on this world.

During my numerous visits to the port and photographing the container ships, I increasingly wondered what life is like on board. Not only because of the strict COVID-19 measures in the maritime world but also beyond that. How do the crew members themselves experience life on board? They get to see many different countries but effectively only experience the port. The idea of capturing the living environment, perspectives on financial aspects, and the experiences of the crew has become increasingly fascinating to me.

A journey aboard a container ship could provide me with the opportunity to better map out the most important trade route between Europe and Asia. This would be a valuable chance to explore not only the fascinating aspects of life at sea but also to gain a deeper understanding of the social and economic dynamics that drive global trade.

As I mentioned earlier, I am particularly curious about the crew and their view of that world. The Western perspective often assumes that the crew is paid very little while working long hours on board. This perspective is reinforced by the fact that shipping companies operate under a “flag of convenience” system. Shipping companies choose to register their ships under the flag of a country with favorable regulations and tax benefits, even though the country in question usually has no connection to the ownership or operation of the ship. Such a setup allows for lower wages and labor conditions for the crew, which affects their working conditions and rights.

© Remco de Vries