Title: Innovatory Heritage 2013-2022
Subtitle: redefining arts, natural and cultural heritage, humanities/social sciences and natural/technological sciences and with society
Author: Jacqueline Heerema
Jacqueline Heerema is a Dutch conceptual artist, mediator, writer, tutor and independent (sub)urban artist-curator. She studied Monumental Art and Environment at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague and Theoretical Museology at Leiden University. Jacqueline is fascinated by the construction of ‘time’ and changing perceptions of value systems, which we often take for granted.
Jacqueline is the inventor of Innovatory Heritage, in which the understanding of heritage shifts from static/exclusive to dynamic/inclusive. She transformed a residential area into ‘Museum Oostwijk’ (2002-2009) and deconstructed institutional museology in ‘The Chamber of Marvels’ (2008-2009).
She presented Innovatory Heritage with an artist talk called ‘Can art contribute to new concepts of heritage, museums, collections and society?’ at the international museology conference ICOMRio2013 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013) as a case study of New Museology, MUSEUM2.0. Next, she was invited to give an artist talk at the conference Innovatory Heritage: Conversations between Art and Heritage (Berlin, 2014) and wrote an essay. In 2022 this essay is selected for publication (Springer Publishers) and she was invited to write an addendum.
“Understanding the dynamics of ‘Innovatory Heritage’ is basically understanding your own values, as a person, as a member of a family, a community and society and as an expert. I like to state that arts, culture and heritage belong to everybody. Not to a selections of experts. Not within walls”.
Innovate Heritage: Conversations between Arts and Heritage is an international and inter/transdisciplinary conference with an artistic program that creates a platform uniting artists, scholars, and heritage and arts professionals in exploring relationships, promoting creative approaches to theoretical and practical issues, and enhancing collaboration between the arts and heritage.
The book ‘Innovate Heritage: A Time-Lapse. Contemporary Arts and Heritage in Today’s Society’ will be released in 2022, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, signed in 1972.
Keywords Innovatory Heritage 2013-2022: Arts, Culture, Heritage, Society; Slow Art by Slow Curating: Art as Public Space.
Projects: Museum Oostwijk (2002-2009); The Chamber of Marvels (2008-2009); Satellietgroep (since 2006-ongoing); Stellingname – Water, Land and Innovatory Heritage (2013), Redefining Zandmotor as cultural phenomenon (2014-ongoing), The Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas (2014-ongoing); Climate as Artifact (2018); Who is nature? (2018); Pioneering Zandmotor (2011-2021). Conclusion; bio.
Link to video of her artist talk Berlin 2014 (30 min.).
There is never only one story to tell.
We all live in a bubble of a Truman Show.
One day you wake up and realize what kind of world you live in …
Since I invented the concept of Innovatory Heritage (2013), in which the understanding of heritage shifts from static/exclusive to dynamic/inclusive, I continued to explore the world as a so-called empirical artistic field explorer, seeking for versatile and reciprocal perspectives. By now, the subtitle of this essay could read:
Innovatory Heritage, redefining arts, natural and cultural heritage, humanities/social sciences and natural/technological sciences and with society.
Slow Art by Slow Curating
In 2014 I wrote: This method deals with the shifting perceptions of the concept of arts and proposes a new role of the arts in redefining culture and heritage. These shifts I define by four circles: Art as Object, Art and Context, Art and Audience, Art as Context.
Reflecting on the past decade, I notice that I can add a fifth circle: Art as Public Space.
A dialogical space offered by art to create space for reciprocity and polyphony in a changing world.
With a practice in the arts and cultural heritage I tend to perceive the world from an artistic perspective, with a focus on perceptions of the history and future of humanity. Working, and making public programs with a wide range of artists, designers, audiences, local practitioners and scientists, I seek ways to include the non-human narrative, the pre-human history of nature. This helps me to provoke new ideas about the origins of both the natural and the artifactual, to enhance a deeper professional and public understanding of their interconnectivity, of the time-depth of landscapes and matter, climate, Earth and atmosphere, and of ourselves as human agency.
I am convinced that the arts can offer alternative strategies for the way we inhabit Earth by creating different worldviews. Faced with current and future challenges, we need to develop a new view of the planet and of the self that include re-imaging perceptions of the past, present and future.
Reflecting on how Innovatory Heritage as method can contribute to the creation of new or other worldviews, I like to share the inclusive art project Climate as Artifact.
Climate as Artifact (2018)
Now that people all around the world are slowly starting to rethink how people and planet are interrelated, new questions arise around the understanding of time and the perception of place. It’s not merely a technical or political challenge that we are facing. It’s a cultural one.
With the exhibition program ‘Climate as Artifact’ (2018), artist collective Satellietgroep positioned dialogue about climate and the impact of humanity as a geological force in the cultural domain. Materializing ideas through art and redefining climate as an artifact, as something we make, helps to increase our sensitivity and to see connections within the natural world and between our actions and our environment.
One of the most challenging aspects of the arts is the ability to pose different questions. In January 2006 artists collective Satellietgroep kicked off with the question To whom belongs the sea? To celebrate over twelve years of pioneering and to prepare for an unforeseen and challenging future, in January 2018 we started to rethink our perceptions of culture and nature with the question Who is nature?
During the first half of this year we tested and experimented with ongoing artistic fieldwork, involving experts and audiences, to develop new insights and pose different questions.
Without judgement, without a preconceived position, we are curious to see the opportunities that climate (change) can offer us.
Faced with current and future challenges, the time-depth of landscapes and of ourselves, we need a new visual idiom, other collaborations and multi-facetted perspectives. Our expanding cities have been named people’s largest artifact. But it was the Dutch landscape architect and emeritus professor Dirk Sijmons, who wondered whether by now the climate might be our biggest artifact. Defining people as nature and the climate as an artifact could just be a philosophical or linguistic exercise. It is what brought us to the question Who is nature? Climate is a hyper object. We know that it exists, but we can’t comprehend it, as the British philosopher Timothy Morton stated. Materializing ideas through art and redefining climate as an artifact, as something we make, helps to increase our sensitivity and to see connections within the natural world and between our actions and our environment.
Redefining these concepts through art could be an essential task though, for this requires an intensive and constructive use of people’s sensitivity and imagination. Visual narratives and artistic actions that invite the public to go outside their ‘comfort zones’ and perceive the world with a critical but open mind, could cause these valuable sparks that make a lasting impression. It helps us to bring abstract concepts or things that are seemingly beyond our control, closer to ourselves.
In the run-up to the autumn exhibition, monthly informal meetings took place with the participating artists and special guests from different knowledge domains. In addition, a supporting program evolved, where artists in smaller group presentations tested their artistic research with the public and entered into dialogue with scientists, philosophers and each other.
Climate as Artifact was an exhibition program that targeted at how redefining climate as a cultural artifact through artistic practice helps us to break free from conventional attitudes in order to establish new and essential perspectives. Climate as Artifact brought together artists, designers, scientists and society to rethink our perceptions of culture and nature. This method also leads to an exhibition program that differs from the more traditional exhibitions. It is closer to a sensorial knowledge lab; a space for experiment and wonder; a workshop, learning center and meeting place, where all your senses are claimed.
During 5 weeks, every week we shifted the focus within the whole exhibition, with ongoing artistic productions and with a public program of workshops, seminars and outdoor expeditions. Participating artists and designers engaged with local practitioners and experts in the fields of nature, climate, geology, archeology, oceanography, philosophy, zoology, botany and spatial planning — as well as a canoe builder from the Marshall Islands — who actively contributed to the making of new art works and public dialogues. Visitors had the opportunity to connect and contribute to the ongoing process of artistic research, share their thoughts and insights, and discover through the arts a multitude of fields of knowledge.
Who is nature?
The essay Who is nature? How visual narratives in art and design can overturn prevailing understandings of environment (Bosman L., Heerema, J.) is published in ‘The urbanization of the sea’ by nai010 publishers (2020). This book tells the story of the sea-land continuum based on the case of the North Sea with versatile projects from academia, art, literature and practice, from analysis to design.
” In particular in the case of the Netherlands, the border between land and sea is unclear and has been constructed and redesigned over centuries. In chapter 17, Satellietgroep shows how their artistic projects pose essential questions that challenge preconceptions about the relations between humans, climate, and nature and offer poignant, palpable forms of reconnection and reflection.” (Nancy Couling, Carola Heins, editors).
Pioneering Zandmotor, 2011-2021
I wrote the reflexive essay of 10 years artistic field research with Zandmotor, ‘Pioneering Sand Motor – Sand Motor as source to rethink anthropogenic coastal modifications of cultural public space’. Published in Research by Urbanism, University Delft Publishers (2021) https://doi.org/10.47982/rius.7.132
I gave an artist talk at the international Coastal Dynamics Conference at Technical University Delft and developed with Satellietgroep a series of Public Field Lessons on time, sea and climate called Van Doggerland t/m Zandmotor (2021). Artist, designers, experts in the field of paleontology, geology, archeology, hydrology and coastal morphology engaged with individuals, families, students and pupils on the Zandmotor.
Doggerland disappeared. The Sand Motor appeared. Ten years ago, this new coastal landscape was created. What happened in the meantime and what lessons can we learn for the future? How can knowledge and imagination contribute to envision a changing living environment? From Deep Time to latest innovations.
Title: Innovatory Heritage
Subtitle: Redefining arts, culture and heritage
Author: Jacqueline Heerema
The focus of this essay is to introduce the concept of Innovatory Heritage. Within this concept, the understanding of heritage shifts from static/exclusive to dynamic/inclusive. This concept has developed during my artistic and curatorial practice over the past fifteen years. The method used is that of Slow Art by Slow Curating. To explain how the concept of Innovatory Heritage has developed and can be implemented, four inclusive art projects are summerised: Museum Oostwijk, The Chamber of Marvels, Satellietgroep and the Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas.
These projects show how art can contribute to the development of new concepts of heritage, museums, collections and society, how we can engage with, build awareness around and re-think heritage. Heritage no longer deals with the representation of the past as Innovatory Heritage focuses on the future!
Arts, Culture, Heritage, Society, Museum Oostwijk, The Chamber of Marvels, Satellietgroep, the Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas.
Slow Art by Slow Curating
During fifteen years of artistic practice, projects and experiences I explored the method of Slow Art by Slow Curating. This method deals with the shifting perceptions of the concept of arts and proposes a new role of the arts in redefining culture and heritage. These shifts I define by four circles: Art as Object, Art and Context, Art and Audience, Art as Context.
The first inner circle is Art as Object, and refers to the tangible qualities of artworks. Artworks as objects, that have a defined material shape, like a statue or a painting. A work of art can be described by title, artist, date, size, materials etc. In such, it could refer to autonomous art in which the intentional meaning of the artist is sacred.
Art and Context is the second circle around the first, and refers to artworks that do no longer consist of a defined shape in space. This can even reach as far as the object as material shape itself is dissolved in an environmental work of art, and is even made for that purpose.
The third circle encompassing the other two is called Art and Audience. It refers not only to conceptual arts, but also to the sense that the object as material shape is non-existent and the senses of the audience are evoked by intangible experiences.
Now the fourth circle may be called Art as Context. It refers to the concept of arts that no longer deals with the objects themselves but is valued as a collective of intangibles. In this construct it is accepted that art is subject to timely reflections and interpretations, in as much that the intentional meaning of the artist is no longer exclusive but inclusive, and subject to timely changes and (re)interpretations.
What interests me most is the conceptual and contextual nature of contemporary arts. Not as a discourse within the domain of arts, but as a dialogue interconnecting different fields of reflections on arts, culture, heritage and society. I invented the concept of Innovatory Heritage, in which the understanding of heritage shifts from static/exclusive to dynamic/inclusive. This dynamic concept has been developed during an emperical art practice over the past years.
Everybody is director and curator of a museum
When you visit people at home, even if home is a simple shack in a refugee camp, you find people surround themselves with the things they value most. When I ask what do you value the most, you may mention your family, or that picture of your mother?
Understanding the dynamics of Innovatory Heritage is basically understanding your own values – as a person, as a member of a family, a community, of society and as an expert. Arts, culture and heritage belong to everybody. They are not something exclusive that belongs to a selection of experts, nor should be confined within institutional walls. Being aware of, and even de-constructing the systems of our appreciations or values of heritage, culture and arts is essential, by means of critical observations, of understanding perceptions, interpretations and even manipulations. I use my artistic conceptual freedom to question validations that we accept, integrate and create in our daily lives. Who is in the position to determine and decide what is important, what should be cherished and kept for future generations, become part of our global heritage and may contribute to understanding the incomprehensible world we are all part of?
There is never only one story to tell. Arts, culture and heritage are dynamic. It is the world we all create together, as a construction of interpretations of histories, peoples, tales and beliefs. It is the way of expressing how we position ourselves in life, in society and the way we negotiate with issues that matter to us. History and memory are adaptable to the particular timeframe we live in. In that sense heritage and culture – as a manifestation of what was, is and will be – is a timely interpretation, and may even be a necessity to survive.
To explain how the concept of Innovatory Heritage has developed and can be implemented as a method, four inclusive art projects are summerised. I transformed a residential area into ‘Museum Oostwijk’ (2002-2009) and deconstructed institutional museology in ‘The Chamber of Marvels’ (2008-2009). As part of my artistic practice, I co-founded artist collective Satellietgroep in 2006, and I am artist-curator since then. Satellietgroep explores the reciprocal relations of humanity and nature from an artistic perspective, with a focus on the sea, (coastal) landscape transitions, climate and the impact of humanity on the environment, in the Netherlands and abroad. I walked the whole shoreline of the Netherlands to develop the first part of the Antropogenic Coastal Atlas (2014), as an insightful tool to perceive the Dutch hybrid relationship of humanity and man-made nature.
Museum Oostwijk (2002-2009)
Museum Oostwijk was an investigation of perceptions of cultural identity of the residents in a neighbourhood called Oostwijk. Starting from the concept that everybody is a director and curator of a museum I converted this urban neighbourhood into Museum Oostwijk by shifting the established construction of formal museums by 180 degrees and stated that everybody and everything in this area is part of the collection of the Museum. The inhabitants became the directors, curators and guides of the Museum. Artists and museology experts were invited to collaborate with the locals on research to disclose this collection.
Oostwijk is the eastern part of a small Dutch town called Vlaardingen. It is an urban area consisting of 10.000 inhabitants of all social economic levels and with multiple ethnic origins. The mayor of the city as well as the Turkish guestworker who sweeps the streets live in this small community. It is a quiet a friendly urban area with no big issues, a place where you might consider living yourself. Interesting, because somehow this multi layered community figured out a way to handle social differences. How do they do it? What lessons are there to be learned?
Starting from the concept that everybody is a director and curator of a museum I stated that everybody and everything in this area is part of the collection of the Museum including all persons, young or old, their dreams, hopes, memories and expectations. Houses, trees, pets, crafts and private experiences became part of the collection and subject of extensive research. The inhabitants became the directors, curators and guides of Museum Oostwijk. Visual artists, designers, a radio maker and museology experts were invited to work together with the inhabitants on research to disclose this collection. The inhabitants as inexperienced experts shared their expert insights in the neighbourhood with professionals, trying to figure out the secret of their success of living harmoniously together including all social and ethnic differences.
Archaeology of the present
Museum Oostwijk proved to have a different approach to culture, heritage and the constructions of cultural identity: from residential area to museum, from concept to collection. During the first year of extensive fieldwork, connecting to people, small enterprises, amateur collectors and schoolkids, I was invited into the homes of people, within their private museums, surrounded by objects and photo books they cherish. While telling their memories, dreams and expectations I was offered a cup of coffee and a cookie. I realized that the offering of a cookie was an important gesture of warmth, of welcome and inclusiveness.
Together with the locals and official representatives of the city we opened the Museum Oostwijk with the introduction of 300 Oostwijkse Koekjestrommels (Oostwijk Cookie Jars) as a symbol, a homely metaphor for the sense of feeling at home, of connecting. Everybody was invited to collect a cookie jar to take home. A web of cookie jars was spread throughout the Oostwijk, interconnecting people. We introduced MOM – The Mobile Oostwijk Museum as a new flexible meeting place for MORE – the home baking contest for the Most Original Oostwijk Cookie. Together we discussed topics and issues to be researched.
As the streets became the pathways through the museum, the houses as the walls of the museum became the depots to be opened. Radiomaker Marije Schuurmann Hess was invited to interview people at home and realized the audio tour called Best Bewaarde Schat (Best Kept Treasure). At the local newspaper shop people could borrow a CD Player and walk through the streets while listening to the stories behind the walls.
Instead of using Living History with actors in a museum, the inhabitants themselves became the performers of their own lives. Instead of taking objects out of their context and put them within the walls of a museum, called ex situ, we restored the origins of museums as in situ, stating that the relevance and value of the objects and stories is located at home. As contemporary archaeologists we studied the present.
Designer Felix Janssens developed the Atlas of Wildlife in the Oostwijk. His research focused on informal communication and locality, common interests and local practices and he organised three Meet’nGreet events. Collecting Pets with Dutch pet expert Martin Gaus, Scooter Kids with Tips & Tricks by scooter hero Jaap ten Hoeve and the local police force, and Liefste Voorwerp (Cherished Object) with ethnologist Gerard Rooijakkers. All collections were documented online in the interactive Atlas. Professional photographer Eric van Straaten lives in the Oostwijk. His research focused on Helden (Heroes) of the Oostwijk. He documented the mostly modest and unseen volunteers of the Oostwijk who are essential for the social fabrics. In double spreads he portrayed the Hero and the location where the Hero volunteers.
Interaction between the locals as experts and official experts of the City Archive, Vlaardingen Museum, historians and newspaper journalists proved to be valuable to develop new insights and methods for communication research, into the collection of the Museum Oostwijk within the museum community, reflecting this contemporary society from within.
After two and a half year, research into The Oostwijk, Cookie Jar showed that 47,5 % used the cookie jar for cookies, 37,5 % used the cookie jar for small items and 15% used the cookie jar for collecting. Some kids kept the content secret, as it contained very personal stuff.
Catalogue Museum Oostwijk
After seven years we documented the project in the catalogue Museum Oostwijk, that was spread house to house in all 3500 households, thus transferring the immaterial collection back to the community. The material collection was formally transferred to the City Archive. 30% of all 10.000 inhabitants participated in one or more projects of the Museum. Recently the Oostwijk became an urban conservation area.
Social inclusion – as in accepting differences among people – appeared to be the keyword for this resilient community. Most importantly, this project did not start with a preconceived notion of what to expect as an outcome, but as an adventure, recognizing the value of locals as experts to be able to create an inclusive dialogue within society, arts and science. Inhabitants experience a strong connection to their environments and roots, but investigations into these contemporary experiences were previoulsy lacking. The concept of Museum Oostwijk offered a mental shape and physical space for research. The area itself became the museum with the inhabitants as curators of material and immaterial collections, that were disclosed in collaboration with artists and scientists.
The Chamber of Marvels (2008-2009)
The City Museum of Zoetermeer aimed to investigate the community collection brought together by the citizens of Zoetermeer. I developed the concept of De Wonderkamer van Zoetermeer – The Chamber of Marvels to publicly deconstruct the classic system of museums and museology. Every step in the process of an object and story being transferred into a museum object as part of a collection was researched within the museum spaces, together with the locals and experts in four steps, called The Naked Object = observation; The Talking Object = perception; Object Speed-dating = composition and cohesion; Beyond the Object = transformation.
The Chamber of Marvels was about longing for cultural identity and raised questions as to the possible construction of identity. Can residents as a source make a valuable contribution to the knowledge and perception of the city of Zoetermeer? What role has the public or artist and scientist in a museum context? Can anyone be a curator? Can a spontaneous collection display a collective cultural identity?
Zoetermeer more or less exploded since the sixties from a village of 9.000 inhabitants into a New Town with over 120.000 inhabitants in 2008. The City Museum of Zoetermeer invited the locals to donate an object and a story about their sense of home to the Museum. 88 donations were contributed and all donations became part of the City Collection 2008 of Zoetermeer. People came to the museum with their personal donation in a plastic shopping bag, and the object and story was transferred and accepted by the curator after putting on the white protection gloves. Together with the museum staff we invited all 88 donators and artists, writers, philosophers and museology experts to share the process of an object and story being transferred into a museum object as part of a collection in four steps called The Naked Object, The Talking Object, Object Speed-dating and Beyond the Object.
The Naked Object
In the first phase called The Naked Object we focused on observation: what do you actually see when you look at an isolated object?
In this phase the participants learned in successive workshops and master classes about historical representation and misrepresentation. The museum spaces were empty, as a classical white cube with empty white tables and shelves. The museum became a photographer’s studio as all objects were first documented by a photographic image. With the expert guidance of photographer Eric van Straaten and together with the amateur photo club of Zoetermeer the donators brought their cameras and photographed each object, excluding the objects of any context. Next the museum became a registration office. Led by Kirsten de Vries, a professional museum consultant, museology labels were made to objectively register the objects, by defining them with a registration number, date, size and materials.
All objects were distributed on the white tables and shelves in the museum, together with the photographs and the museology labels. During two master classes called Observation by writer/poet K. Schippers and Historical Adaptions by artist Sjaak Langenberg the subjectivity of objects was disclosed by close observations. Langenberg posed the question about the relevance of value of these donated objects and contributed a lost and found collection of discarded objects he had found outside around the museum.
The Talking Object
In the second phase called The Talking Object we focused on perception: how does a story add to the meaning of the object?
In this phase the participants examined what a story adds to one’s experience and interpretation of an object. The museum became a story theatre. All items surrounding us connect to a story as in everyday life we develop a personal relationship with these objects. Guided by art historian André Koch the participants were invited to describe the objects of the City Collection 2008 in their own colourful interpretations of these objects. These coloured stories together with the donated stories were added to the objects in the museum exhibition. Artist/performer Adriaan Nette then induced them to personally interact with the objects. Flemish philosopher Ann Meskens gave a master class Sweet Thing and examined the relationship between owners and objects in her lecture about cherishing old kitchen tables, new DVD players and a stylish standing lamp. Three national heritage specialists Peter van Mensch, Tessa Luger and Arjen Kok subsequently brainstormed with participants about the information set-up of objects, about experiencing objects in a museological context, and about the personal as well as the general value of objects. A new experimental chart for immaterial value of objects was tested together with the donators, even further disclosing their stories and the personal motivation behind the objects they donated.
In the third phase called Object Speed-dating we focused on composition and cohesion, what do all these objects and stories mean together?
This phase was all about the interaction between the objects themselves. The museum became an interactive platform for the objects of the collection. During Object Speed-dating all objects could be freely taken from the tables and shelves to be rearranged by the participants in various compositions while making paintings and drawings, guided by artist/exhibition-maker Ton of Holland. Artist Marjan Teeuwen gave a presentation about creation by destruction called Cluttered rooms and festering staples. During the master classes ‘Identity and Myths’ ethnologist Gerard Rooijakkers explained about his research into constructions of identity and artist Birthe Leemeijer shared her art project The Museum of Discarded Things and the value of objects as art.
Beyond the Object
The final phase called Beyond the Object was themed around transformation: has the public research of this community collection added meaning and understanding to the locals, the museum or the town?
During the project, the museum was slowly transformed into The Chamber of Marvels. The objects of the collection were enriched with photographs, quotations and descriptions, and were rearranged in new compositions. In the final debate called Beyond the Object, museum consultant Max Meijer assessed the results of the project. What were the outcomes of this intriguing examination of the role of the museum, its collection and its relevance for the town? Michelle Provoost, director of the New Towns Institute reflected on top-down urban planning while museologist Leontine Meijer van Mensch discussed museum ethics with students of the Reinwardt Academy and Annelieke van Halen of Domein voor Kunstkritiek reflected on the exchange between arts and context.
Reflecting on the donated objects and stories of this City Collection questions were raised about value, relevancy and co-ownership. The participants were surprised and intrigued by the complex process involving the acquisition of objects for the collection, the accumulation of knowledge, and the placement of objects within a new context. The Museum of Zoetermeer became an open source instead of a top-down institute. Romanticism, nostalgia and wishful thinking mixed with common sense and (supposed) authenticity, reflected the subjective dynamics of a village that transformed into a New Town.
The project resulted in the catalogue called 4289 as this became the final object of donation to the City Collection of the Museum of Zoetermeer. 1200 copies were spread to the donators and all museums, heritage and training institutions in The Netherlands. I reflected and documented the artistic context of the whole project in the catalogue and online.
It is essential to open up museums and allow the museology discourse to leave the walls and domains of museums and become alive, co-owned by people in an active and inclusive process instead of passive consumerism.
What usually takes place behind the scenes in museums, happened in The Chamber of Marvels in public dialogue during an interactive program of ateliers and master classes within the spaces of the museum. The process of contextualising objects and stories was performed during an open dialogue driven by the selection of objects and stories from and with the citizens. It involved responsibility and respect between non-professionals and professionals. It is essential to open up museums and allow the museology discourse to leave the walls and domains of museums and become alive, co-owned by people in an active and inclusive process instead of passive consumerism.
The Chamber of Marvels was represented at numerous museology conferences and training sessions as a case study of New Museology (Museum 2.0), about co-ownership of collections and museums. As stated by the professionals included in The Chamber of Marvels, the project produced insights that could be employed in the continued development of new museum methods and collecting. Museums should ask questions about representation of a museum collection if that collection is selected by heritage professionals for the community that it wants to represent. Museums can relate to the community in which it wants to be embedded and transform into an open source where both high and low culture reinforce and influence each other.
I was invited to share my artistic 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).
Satellietgroep is the Dutch artists collective I co-founded in 2006 as part of my artistic practice. Satellietgroep explores the reciprocal relations of humanity and nature from an artistic perspective, with a focus on the sea, (coastal) landscape transitions, climate and the impact of humanity on the environment, in the Netherlands and abroad. The aim is to enhance public and professional climate consciousness. Long term international exchange projects are Badgast and Now Wakes The Sea. New concepts and artworks are developed that reflect on the geographical, ecological, conceptual and philosophical shifts due to coastal transitions. These works contribute to the contemporary collection of Satellietgroep, to be presented during public and professional events. Satellietgroep interconnects coastal communities by contextualizing contemporary research and new art works to historic and future coastal developments and art works, that transcend local and national issues.
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.
Oceans, seas and coastal regions are worldwide under tremendous pressure. The Netherlands is a country mostly below sea level with expert skills of water management and with a worldwide famous artistic tradition. The continuing need for coastal adaptations due to rising sea level in past and present is important for everyone. The Dutch are experts in re-shaping nature, to make the coastal landscape appear as a natural landscape while in fact it is a cultural man-made landscape. Polders, dikes and the Wadden Sea have become part of the Dutch national heritage. With the prospect of climate change, rising sea level, shrinking land, dis-balance of salt and fresh water, rivers too full or empty, we face major coastal transitions, that may lead to conflicts, estrangements, loss of heritage and loss of more informal cultural use of public coastal space. What you see is not how it appears to be, just like for Truman Burbank in the movie The Truman Show. One day you wake up and discover that you live in a bubble…
Research while collecting
Satellietgroep explores the sea, coastal transitions, climate change and the impact of mankind on these processes, in The Netherlands and abroad. The artists collective creates conditions for artists and designers to work on site during artist-in-residency programs, collaborate with the extensive network of local practitioners, natural and cultural scientists to develop new works and insights. Long term art programs are called Badgast, based in the urban beach resort Scheveningen (NL), and Now Wakes The Sea, the international bilateral exchange artist-in-residency program with cultural partners, coastal communities and experts abroad.
In both projects, artist-in-residency programs are conceived as a research method. Satellietgroep collects and interconnects the works and the insights derived from these art projects. These are shared during local public programs like traveling film festivals, exhibitions, workshops, on international art venues and professional coastal conferences. In 2013 we reflected on the projects in two publication, Badgast (2013) and Now Wakes The Sea (2013). Art works are permanently exhibited in the public open air photo exhibition called Zeespiegel (Mirror of the Sea) on the new boulevard of Scheveningen since 2012.
Stellingname – Water, Land and Innovatory Heritage (2013)
In 2013 I was invited as guest curator and developed Stellingname – water, land & innovatory heritage.
An art manifestation which ten artists, local practitioners and scientists, who worked together to develop ‘subjective cartography’ for new positions in our approach to water, land and heritage. The Haarlemmermeer is a polder that 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.
The project Stellingname was the first test case in 2013 to implement the new dynamic concept of Innovatory Heritage. I was invited as guest curator to explore the phenomenon of living below sea level in a polder in The Netherlands and used Innovatory Heritage as a method to relate to the polder Haarlemmermeer and its water management. How can Innovatory Heritage contribute to unravelling a complex and layered landscape? Which position do we have or choose? Do we resist, adapt or find new perspectives?
Haarlemmermeer was once a dangerous inner sea, dry milled into a polder, became part of the Stelling of Amsterdam – listed as Unesco World Heritage site – and visitors now arrive at Schiphol Airport in the middle of a supposed safe suburbia. Every year twenty to forty million cubic meters of fresh water are pumped into the polder to flush the salt water out of the polder, to be able to grow vegetables and feed the animals. Huge areas are designated to be flooded when the rivers are too full.
During the project Stellingname we disclosed this layered landscape with a transdisciplinary interpretive community and by subjective cartography. developed engaging and inclusive projects with the aim to enhance a better understanding of the interconnectivity of past, present and future of human-driven landscape interventions.
Arts after nature – or nature after arts?
Contemporary artists are no longer on the outside to reflect on nature and shape artefacts – like paintings, Land Art – that find their space in the world, but are at the core of changing relations of humanity with nature. Artists are mediators and that involves a great responsibility.
The eye of the beholder
Artists have the ability to express the way we perceive nature so that people can relate through art works to nature. Nowadays, nature is even re-shaped to resemble famous paintings and writings.
In retrospect, subjectivity proves to be leading in the construction of imaging of nature. Man is a traveler, and invented cartography to chart the world and model reality and myths. Since around 1800 the traveler transformed in a tourist in search of paradise. Landscape became an imaginary construction. Travel books like Baedeker and Murray guided visitors through the landscape in the tracks of the novels of sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen. Painters drew sketches in nature that were brought back to the atelier to develop into a painting after nature. The invention of paint in a tube made it possible for impressionist painters to work outdoors ‘en plein air’ on artistic subjective perception of nature. The invention of the camera made it possible to further idealize nature on postcards. Land Art became Destination Art, the guidance for traveling art lovers. Digital manipulations contributed to seemingly unlimited constructions of the world, and the world wide web allows us to know about art and places we will never see ourselves.
The world becomes a constructed myth once more that we may shape to our needs.
The value of local fieldwork in the context of global transitions
Awareness rises that the Anthropocene era we now live in may provide no escape for nature and thus for humanity. Ecosystems have no boundaries. We need to engage with global issues in order to survive. But how do we make these abstract and large topics relevant and actual in our daily living environment? In the Netherlands this means being faced with global prospects of rising sea levels, shrinking lands, dis-balance of salt and fresh water, rivers too full of low. In this country – mostly below sea level – we need to re-invent coexistence of man and water, develop new insights both on ecology as on technology in order to realize a healthy, sustainable and safe future.
Redefining Zandmotor as cultural phenomenon (2014-ongoing)
The Zandmotor (Sand Engine) is the first Dutch coastal engineering pilot on the shore of the North Sea (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. The Zandmotor is built on the foreshore in 2011 with 21,5 million cubic meters of sand. It 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 a publicly accessible open air scientific and artistic laboratory, as Satellietgroep started the new artist-in-residency program called Zandgast.
The great flood of the southern parts of The Netherlands in 1953 instigated sixty years of Delta Works with dikes and dams – now called building against nature – that have recently been completed. As a result of building dikes extra pressure was put on the coast, resulting after half a century in a dis-balance of salt and fresh water.
The Dutch recently made a complete turnaround in the way that we now invite the sea as a partner to help shape the coastal protection with the sands we put in front of the shores. This phenomenon is called Zandmotor (Sand Engine, 2011) – Building with Nature – rather than building against nature.
This shift from Holocene era – in which nature was the geological force that affected changes – to the Anthropocene era – in which humanity affects nature – is a tremendous conceptual shift. Can the Sand Motor be perceived as Innovatory Heritage?
As part of the Now Wakes The Sea program, Satellietgroep started a long term exchange program with Nida Art Colony in Lithuania. I was triggered by the different labels of Unesco World Heritage. Nida Art Colony is located on the Curonian Spit and is on the culturalUnesco World Heritage list, while the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands is on the natural Unesco World Heritage list, even though both exist because of the interaction between humanity and nature?
Recently I redefined the Zandmotor – or building with nature – as the largest contemporary cultural statement of the Anthropocene era we now live in. This new, designed coastal landscape is a time machine that transports us from Holocene (affected by nature) into Anthropocene (affected by humanity). Built with sand from the bottom of North Sea that also brought ashore mammoth fossils. This sand is said to originate from the mythological river Eridanos that once flowed from what we now call the Baltic Sea to the North Sea and shaped The Netherlands. The result is a dynamic extension of the coast, a new controlled wilderness that slowly transforms into a spit and lagoon – similar to the Curonian Spit and Lagoon at Nida in Lithuania where our international cultural partner is based. But the Zandmotor is designed to dissolve around 2031.
Before the Zandmotor dissolves, I propose as an artistic statement to enlist it as Innovatory Heritage at Unesco World Heritage. A new narrative of the interactions of humanity with nature, both cultural and natural, both tangible and intangible. Called Innovatory Heritage, as it changes our perception of protective-exclusive heritage into dynamic-inclusive heritage: intended to change – even disappear. In this process we need the conceptual freedom of artists collaborating with humanities/social sciences and the natural/technological sciences to explore unexpected liminal imaging of nature.
The Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas (2014-ongoing)
In 2014, I started walking the whole shoreline of the Netherlands to develop the first part of the Antropogenic Coastal Atlas, as an insightful tool to perceive the Dutch hybrid relationship of humanity and man-made nature. Consequently, I was invited as artistic researcher by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) to articulate coastal art, culture and heritage as part of the first Masterplan Coast and Heritage. The Collection of Satellietgroep became implemented as source.
The Dutch coast is no Tabula Rasa
The Dutch minister Melanie Schulz stated in 2014 that the Dutch coast is our National Heritage. Though the Dutch coastline of 523 kilometers is perceived as a natural landscape mostly consisting of dunes, it is a dynamic man-made cultural landscape. Interactions between humanity and nature shaped the coastline across eras and areas, with a marine and maritime history, fishing, shipping and ports, colonies, floods and shipwrecks, fortresses and bunkers, dikes and Sand Motor, permanent or temporary habitation, tourism and our future need for security and sustainable ecology, fresh drinking water, de-salinization of the soil and new energy supplies.
The Dutch are masters in disguising a cultural landscape as a natural one. We tend to design, construct, reconstruct nature to fit our needs. The arts can express the spatial, 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.
Starting from the human subjective perspective and with the accumulating collection of artworks, visual narratives will disclose the perception and imaging of the Dutch coastline, the resilience of the people and of the coastal landscape. The Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas aims at understanding climate change through innovatory heritage, public appropriations and storytelling. 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 our imagination, knowledge and insights of the perception of history (where we come from) and the challenges we face (where we are going).
Next phases of the Antropogenic Coastal Atlas may include Mutual Cultural Heritage, connecting to other coastlines, collections, imaginations, insights and knowledge. The Anthropogenic Coastal Atlas will become a cultural tool for public and professional use, for geographical, typological and narrative explorations into the complex and layered coastal transitions, and aims to be connected in future to the International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) of scientific coastal atlasses.
So, yes! These projects show how the arts can contribute to the development of new concepts of heritage, museums, collections and society.
Esteemed museologist Peter van Mensch stated at the finissage of our project Stellingname that “art can (also) contribute to new concepts about heritage, by developing new questions that derive heritage from dogmatic and institutionalized notions to new ideas about how material heritage shifts to immaterial heritage, in the sense that is shifts from tangible as the carrier of intangible heritage”.
The concept of Innovatory Heritage and the shift of understanding heritage as dynamic/inclusive instead of as static/exclusive raises questions about contructs of value, relevancy and co-ownership. It is essential to open up museums and allow the museology discourse to leave the walls and domains of museums and become alive, co-owned by people in an active and inclusive process instead of passive consumerism. Arts, culture and heritage belong to everybody. They are not something exclusive that belongs to a selection of experts, nor should they be confined within institutional walls. Museums should ask questions about representation of a museum collection if that is selected by heritage professionals for the community that it wants to represent. Museums can relate to the community in which it wants to be embedded and transform into an open source where both high and low culture reinforce and influence each other. Social inclusion – as in accepting differences among people – appeared to be the keyword. Most importantly, these art project did not start with a preconceived notion of what to expect as an outcome, but as an adventure, recognizing the value of locals as experts to be able to create an inclusive dialogue within society, art and science.
Jacqueline Heerema (Netherlands, 1958) is a Dutch conceptual artist, mediator, writer tutor and independent (sub)urban artist-curator. She studied Monumental Art and Environment at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague and Theoretical Museology at Leiden University. She is fascinated by the construction of ‘time’ and changing perceptions of value systems, which we often take for granted. She invented the concept of Innovatory Heritage, in which the understanding of heritage shifts from static/exclusive to dynamic/inclusive. She transformed a residential area into ‘Museum Oostwijk’ (2002-2009) and deconstructed institutional museology in ‘The Chamber of Marvels’ (2008-2009). In 2006 she founded artists collective Satellietgroep and is artist-curator since then. Satellietgroep explores the reciprocal relations of humanity and nature from an artistic perspective, with a focus on the sea, (coastal) landscape transitions, climate and the impact of humanity on the environment, in the Netherlands and abroad.
Her work arises inbetween images and words, (sub)urban landscapes and matter, works of art and people, time and climate. She addresses concepts of ‘worldmaking’ and notions of timescaping, matterscaping, landscaping and climatescaping to offer an alternative strategy for the way in which we relate to each other, with the other and with otherness. She focusses on the in-between-ness of the natural and the artifactual to create space for reciprocity and polyphony in a changing world.