There is never only one story to tell.
We all live in the bubble of a Truman Show.
One day you wake up and realize what kind of world you live in...
The idiom of the arts is not language itself, but to evoke our imagination and appeal to individuals and audiences by sensory experiences.
As part of my artistic practice – as maker, mediator, tutor and artist-curator – I initiate projects that shift the perception of value systems, which we often take for granted. In retrospective, I myself shifted from questioning my perceptions of human history to including non-human history of nature.
It all started when I put a swing in an opened window frame to question the role of art (institutions) in the public domain. A surreal and efemeral public intervention at exhibition space TENT, Witte de Withstraat Rotterdam (NL, 2001).
Explore, collect, share & learn
Explore, collect, share & learn is a work method I developed for artistic environmental fieldwork to inclusively engage people and other natural entities in search for a deeper relational understanding. Keyword is fieldwork, engagement by actually being outside in the field, outside your comfort zone, using all senses to learn, express and address. Curiosity driven. Start with an open mind and target at finding the right questions to pose.
This method evolved from experiences of a decade of artist-in-residency programs to enhance art-science-society cross collaborations, shaped the fundaments of the Beyond Technology education pilot and I was invited to share my insights during my talk ‘Can co-creation of (students of) the arts and sciences enhance public climate-consciousness?‘ at BC3, Basque Centre for Climate Change (Bilbao, Spain, 2019).
Innovatory Heritage is an inclusive method I invented of storytelling through arts, design and science for broader audiences with new visual narratives of the hybrid relationship of humanity with (manmade) nature through time and space. Within this concept heritage itself is the actor of understanding and learning processes of transitions and innovations, including the causes and consequenses in past, present and future. As the world around us is changing, this new approach changes our perception of protective-exclusive heritage into dynamic-inclusive heritage: intended to change!
I transformed a residential area into ‘Museum Oostwijk’ and deconstructed institutional museology into ‘The Chamber of Marvels of Zoetermeer’ and I was invited to share my insights during my talk ‘Can art contribute to new concepts of heritage, museums, collections and society?‘ for COMCOL at ICOMRio2013 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013).
Artistic field research
Following years of art and heritage projects on time, people and environment and rethinking perceptions of culture and nature, in the city, the sea, coastal landscapes, polders, mud flats, Afsluitdijk and abroad, my current fascination is swamp, also called wetlands, marsh, bog, moor or wild land. A transitional ecology between land and water that is both land and water.
Onland, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Subsurface Landscape as Living Archive.
Deep Reading: ten meters and 6000 years of time-depth.
An artistic field research in the reciprocal relation of nature and culture, disruptions of time and matter and ethics of appropriations.
We usually explore a landscape horizontally. During the public event Onland we explored the underground landscape vertically in an attempt to unravel different storylines and perceptions of time, nature and culture. An exercise in anticipation, of embodiment of time. At the intersection of art, palaeontology, geology, archaeology and ecology i.c.w. geologist Bert van der Valk (Deltares) and climate scientist Tanya Lippmann (VU).
Artist-in-residency programs for inclusive artistic field research
As part of my artistic practice I initiated and curated international exchange artist-in-residence programs and public programs during 10 years for artists collective Satellietgroep. Arts and science can express the spatial and social and ecological qualities – as well as the problems – of our coastal areas, and make them engagingly accessible to the public. These works can transform a destination normally marked by consumption and recreation into a platform for critical communication and serious reflection. This timely reflection on spatial transition processes may act as a strong catalyst in generating public and professional discussions and connect contemporary research and new works to historic and future works and coastal transitions. A decade of experiences, that led to the question ‘Who is nature?‘ and the exhibition program ‘Climate as Artifact’ (2018).
Zandgast, Zandmotor, Netherlands
Zandmotor, a cultural phenomenon.
Artist-curator for Satellietgroep of 5 years artist-in-residency and Public Expedition programs called Zandgast, to explore the Zandmotor as cultural phenomenon. Zandmotor is a coastal pilot near The Hague that uses the principles of ‘Building with Nature’. This innovative project aims to generate new knowledge in times of climate change and relative sea level rise for future coastal protection. An innovation, built on the foreshore in 2011 with 21,5 million cubic meters of sand. The Zandmotor is the only Dutch area outside the dikes that is exposed to the tides and wind, built to transform and even assimilate around 2030 in sea, beach and dunes. The result is a dynamic extension of the coast, a new controlled post-natural ‘wilderness’. The Zandmotor is an publicly accessible open air scientific and artistic laboratory.
In 2014-2015: a cultural strategy for Zandgast, the proposed new visitor center and artist-in-residency on and about the Zandmotor as cultural phenomenon. Overtreders W, Rob Sweere and RAAAF (Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordance) were selected for the first designs of Zandgast. Aimed at sharing new works and insights of the coexistence of humanity and the sea to enhance public and professional climate-consciousness. Insights of art & climate change are shared on numerous venues and conferences, often beyond the realm of the arts, like the talk I gave at the European Parliament in Brussels (2015).
We live in a globalised world. Shaped through time by exchange. Exchange of sediments and debris, of species – like people, plants and animals – and of cultures and knowledge. Processes that are affected by humanity.
The Dutch are masters in disguising a cultural landscape as a natural one. We tend to design, construct, reconstruct and deconstruct nature to fit our needs.
DCR Gueststudios, The Hague, Netherlands
Artist-curator for Satelietgroep of 6 years self directed and curated artists-in-residency program at De DCR in The Hague. De DCR is a cultural incubator that also houses 35 permanent studios for artists and designers, including my studio and the studio of Satellietgroep, Zaal 3 – laboratory for Performing Arts of Theater aan het Spui, sound studio Loos, Cloud Danslab and exhibition space Nest.
Stellingname – water, land and innovatory heritage, Haarlemmermeerpolder, Netherlands
Do we resist, adapt or develop new positions?
As guest-curator for Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen I developed a manifestation which 10 artists, local experts and scientists, who worked together to develop ‘subjective cartography’ for new positions in our approach to water, land and heritage. The Haarlemmermeerpolder is subject to constant change due to economic and ecological dynamics. Once a dangerous inland sea (so-called Water Wolf), the current landscape of the Haarlemmermeer is characterized by an accumulation of natural, social, military and hydraulic engineering history. In this layered cultural landscape, current tensions arise due to economic expansions of Schiphol Airport with a new dyke landscape against noise pollution, the ongoing need for space for housing and recreation, salinization of the polder due to saline groundwater seepage and ‘reverse flooding’ for fresh water storage, rising rivers and land subsidence.
Now Wakes The Sea
Artist-curator for Satellietgroep of international exchange artist-in-residency and public programs called Now Wakes The Sea. Since 2012, developed in collaboration with international cultural partners. The programs function as an alternative source for collecting the intangible local knowledge derived from the artistic and scientific projects. New concepts and works are developed that we collect, connect and contextualize with existing works for public events like traveling film festivals, exhibitions, workshops and presentations at expert conferences. By interconnecting coastal communities, arts and science we share local knowledge on global level to gain sustainable insights on coastal transitions that transcend local and national issues. Locations: New York City, Japan, Croatia, UK, Malta, Lithuania, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey & more.
Badgast, Scheveningen, Netherlands
The sea belongs to everyone and thus to no one – words that not only define the world’s largest public space but also leave it unarticulated.
Artist-curator for Satellietgroep of 5 years international artist-in-residency and public programs in one-and-a-half stacked recycled shipping container, called Badgast. Build by Refunc Recycle Architects in the middle of the temporary surfing village called F.A.S.T. Exploring the scope of hosting artists, designers, philosophers and filmmakers, while developing year round public programs with open-air Cinema & Talks@Sea in the context of a touristic destination, the urban beach resort called Scheveningen.
Since 2012 the 24/7 open-air exhibition called ‘Zeespiegel – Mirror of the Sea’ at the boulevard of Scheveningen is open to all visitors to engage with the Badgast art projects.
The publication called Badgast (2013) reflects on projects about lack, longing and presumption of public coastal space, research into the margins of the coastal landscape, coastal scenarios and research on cultural identity and tourism, heritage and invented traditions in man-made landscapes.
With the prospect of climate change, rising sea level, dis-balance of salt and fresh water, shifting ecologies and geopolitical strategies, migrations of people and species, pressures of tourism and energy supplies we face major coastal transitions worldwide. Transitions that may lead to conflicts, estrangements, loss of heritage and loss of more informal cultural uses of public coastal space. Understanding these processes involves disclosing new visual narratives, as the vital links for unlocking knowledge and insights of the perception of history (where we come from) and the challenges we face (where we are going).
Where art is the first form of life.
In January 2006, awareness that the North Sea may be perceived as a construction site or energy landscape to fit our needs instigated artists collective Satellietgroep to question ‘To whom belongs the sea?’
The initiative was triggered by the remarkable lack of involvement of arts, culture and heritage in the master plans for coastal transitions in The Netherlands, especially in The Hague, with top down reconstructions for urban beach resorts Scheveningen and Kijkduin and with the prospect of islands in front of the coast. Prospects of innovative engineering that raise questions about modifying public cultural space.
With this concept, Satellietgroep kicked off in 2006 with a fake news article ‘Kunst beschermt kust’ (Art protects coast). In anticipation of the future coastal expansions, the collective conceptually appropriated one of the artificial islands. A 3-year nomadic program evolved.
The Chamber of Marvels, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
Can art contribute to new concepts of heritage, museums, collections and society?
I deconstructed institutional museology in ‘The Chamber of Marvels of Zoetermeer‘. In short, ‘The Chamber of Marvels of Zoetermeer‘ is about desire for identity and raises questions about a possible construction of identity in a so-called New Town Zoetermeer. A collection of 88 objects and stories donated by residents around their perceptions of ‘Home’ became the subject of research into the significance of this collection for the Zoetermeer City Museum, residents and the city. The interactive program consisted of a series of workshops, master classes and a final debate on the meaning of objects and stories. During the program visual artists, writers, scientists and museum professionals together with the donators explored the ‘Zoetermeer 2008 Collection’ together with the audience. What usually takes place behind the scenes, happened during ‘The Chamber of Marvels of Zoetermeer‘ publicly in the museum hall, in the middle of the exhibition. Every step in the process of an object and story being transferred into a museum object as part of a collection was researched in 4 phases: The naked object, The speaking object, Object speed dating and Beyond the object.
In the first phase we focused on observation, what do you see when you look at an isolated object? In the second phase we focused on perception: how does a story add to the meaning of the object? In the third phase we focused on composition and cohesion, what do all these objects and stories mean together? And the final phase centered around transformation, has the public research of this community collection added meaning and understanding to the locals, the museum, the town?
The project resulted in a catalogue called ‘4289’ as it became the final contribution to the collection of the City Museum. It was sent to all museums, heritage and education institutions in The Netherlands. The project was presented at numerous conferences.
Everybody is a director and curator of a museum.
I transformed a residential area into ‘Museum Oostwijk’. The roles of museum and public have been reversed here. A project about the archeology of the present: a different approach to culture, cultural heritage and cultural identity, from residential area to museum, from concept to collection. The first object of Museum Oostwijk was a Cookie Jar. 300 Cookie Jars were introduced at the opening of the museum as a symbol, a homely metaphor for the sense of feeling at home, of connecting.
Museum Oostwijk was an investigation of perceptions of cultural identity of the residents in Oostwijk, part of a Dutch town. An urban area consisting of 10.000 inhabitants of all social economic levels and with multiple origins. The town mayor and the Turkish guest worker who sweeps the streets live in this small community. A rather quiet and friendly urban area with no big issues. Interesting, because somehow this multi layered community figured out a way to handle social and ethnic differences? How do they do it?
Starting from the concept that everybody is a director and curator of a museum I converted this urban neighboorhood into Museum Oostwijk and shifted the established construction of formal museums 180 degrees by stating that everybody and everything in this area is part of the collection of the Museum. All persons, young or old, their dreams, hopes, memories and expectations became part of the collection. The inhabitants became the directors, curators and guides of the Museum. Artists and experts were invited to work with the inhabitants to research and disclose this collection.
After 7 years we documented the project in a catalogue that was spread house-to-house in all 3500 households, thus transferring the immaterial collection back to the community. 30% of 10.000 residents participated in projects of the Museum. The material collection became part of the Vlaardingen City Archive, to be explored by future (art) historians. Recently Oostwijk became an urban conservation area.
Wind Mee, South Holland, Netherlands
Curator for a fresh approach of an art cycle route, as mental and physical displacement. A 65-kilometer biking route along the North Sea and Waterweg, between Rotterdam, Hoek van Holland and The Hague, the existing art, heritage and culture in this coastal landscape, and interactions with the public were the three starting points for temporary art projects. In 2004, the existing works of art and cultural-historical landmarks were supplemented for the first time with 6 contemporary public art projects by artists Saskia Janssen, Sjaak Langenberg and Rosé de Beer, Adriaan Nette, Esther Polak, Zeger Reyers and Barbara Visser. These projects shaped a new programmatic line along which the public could move and provided fascinating access to the readability of the South Holland cultural landscape.
Ik noem haar ROOS
‘I call her ROOS’ is a reconstruction of a childhood memory. Over a period of 5 years, ROOS developed as an artistic alter-ego, questioning the makability of identity.
Surreal, tantalizing and efemeral interventions. Art in public space, art as public space.