soft soils

The becoming, The being & The meanwhile
Part 4: I noticed a rather uncomfortable sensation.. Soft Soils

Subsurface as living climate archive.

Within the art project Soft Soils (2021), I question validation of the value of soil as art, as heritage and if soil itself benefits from this? To approach soil as a living entity and a world in and of itself, I now show the vulnerable beauty of Soft Soils. They speak for themselves.
Soft Soils is the 4th part of art project ‘The becoming, The being & The meanwhile’.
Part 1, 2 & 3: Land in Wording, Amstelpark, 2019-2020

Postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions: Soft Soils on exhibit at Arti et Amicitiae, now expected January 2022.
May 29 – June 13, 2021: aardtijd, part 5, artistic-research-in-process at Glazen Huis, Zone2Source Amsterdam.

Soft Soils, Jacqueline Heerema, 2021.
17th century artifact, 10 meters and approx. 6000 years of subsurface living climate archive, Land in Wording, Amstelpark Amsterdam; photo Gerrit Scheurs.
aardtijdSoft Soils as work-in-progress, Jacqueline Heerema, 2021.
17th century artifact I found on the surface; 10 meters depth and approx. 6.000 years of time-depth of subsurface living climate archive, Land in Wording, Amstelpark Amsterdam; photo: Gerrit Schreurs
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Please note: The exhibition program at Arti et Amicitiae was due to take place April 9 – May 9 2021, but is postponed following COVID-19 restrictions. Online seminar ‘Art and Research on Layered Landscapes in Transition’ was due to take place on April 21, 2021, but is also postponed.

I wrote the essay Mirroring the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica in Rome and the Amstelpark in Amsterdam that is published in ‘Exploded View, Art and Research on Layered Landscapes in Transition’ by CLUE+, the Interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2021).

Soft Soils, essay 'Mirroring the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica in Rome and the Amstelpark in Amsterdam', published in 'Exploded View, Art and Research on Layered Landscapes in Transition' by CLUE+, the Interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Part 4: I noticed a rather uncomfortable sensation..
work-in-progress: Soft Soils in mould, depth of soil minus 9.50 – 9.70 meter of Land in Wording
Part 4: I noticed a rather uncomfortable sensation..
work-in-progress
: Soft Soils in mold, depth of soil minus 9.50 – 9.70 meter of Land in Wording

Mirroring the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica in Rome and the Amstelpark in Amsterdam


In 2018, Jacqueline Heerema was invited by Alice Smits, curator of Zone2Source to explore the Amstelpark in the context of Exploded View, as part of the overarching project focusing on both the Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica in Rome and the Amstelpark in Amsterdam. Within this project, both parks “are characterized by the interplay between long term historical processes and creative agency, appropriated throughout the centuries and literally re-constructed as heritage” (quote website Exploded View).

In her next endeavour – as a cross-over between the two artists, Rome and Amsterdam – to approach soil as a living entity and a world in and of itself, Heerema now shows the vulnerable beauty of Soft Soils.
They speak for themselves.

During the research phase of Exploded View artists Eline Kersten and Jacqueline Heerema discovered a shared fascination for soil. It all started with acts of appropriation.
Eline Kersten approaches the earth or soil as a living entity and a world in and of itself. She appropriated three core samples of the Via Appia and presents these in their original cases as a sculpture, accompanied by a recording of excerpts of an essay by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa.
Jacqueline Heerema developed the art project ‘The becoming, The being & The meanwhile’. She explored the phenomenon of ‘time’ and the representation of nature-culture and climate in the subsurface landscape of ‘Land in Wording’ at the Amstelpark. As a result, she brought to light a layered storytelling landscape and showed the soil as a living climate archive. She reconstructed the genesis of ‘Land in Wording’, drilled together with scientists and climate activists in the subsurface of ‘Land in Wording’ and appropriated the collected soils. During this soil drilling, she experienced a rather uncomfortable sensation, which she calls ‘Breath of Soil(s)’.
People, plants and animals breathe, but the earth also breathes…. Is soil alive?

This sensation triggered an ongoing dialogue between the two artists. At the intersection of art, paleontology, geology, archaeology, ecology and climate the artists wonder how they can enhance – through the arts – a more reciprocal relationship with soil as living entity for the future?
In general, society tends to value soil as territorial commodity or as ‘dirt’, but since the soil drilling and appropriations of the soils of ‘Land in Wording’, Heerema is aware of her role as caretaker of 10 meters of subsurface matter. During the ensuing year, some of these soil samples started to sprout…

If we acknowledge art and heritage as methods to express our value of the world around and beneath us, how can we validate soil itself?

During her artist-in-residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc, the international centre-of-excellence for ceramics, Heerema made a 3-d scan and mold of the archeological artifact, a shard of a 17th century porridge bowl she had found on the surface of ‘Land in Wording’, as an index fossil dating back to the same time as the first mention of country estate Amstelrust (1635) on the river Amstel. With this mold and the collected subsurface soils, she started to work on the in-between-ness of art & heritage with soil.

With this next endeavour – as a cross-over between the two artists, Rome and Amsterdam – to approach soil as a living entity and a world in and of itself, Heerema now shows the vulnerable beauty of Soft Soils. They speak for themselves.


With special thanks to artist Eline Kersten, Tanya Lippmann (climate scientist, VU), Bert van der Valk (geologist, Deltares), the international youth collective RE-PEAT, Mathijs Boom (historian, UvA), Lietje Bauwens (philosopher), all participants, curator Alice Smits of Zone2Source (Exploded View I, 2020), curator Krien Clevis of In Principio Foundation (Exploded View II, 2021) i.w.c. CLUE+ / VU (Cultural Landscapes and Urban Environment) & Sundaymorning@ekwc.
My participations in Exploded View I & II are kindly supported by Stroom Den Haag.


Soft Soils is the 4th phase of the art project ‘The becoming, The being & The meanwhile’:
Part 1: The becoming. Research of the genesis of Land in Wording, 2019
Part 2: The being. Public intervention Onland, Land in Wording, 2019
Part 3: The meanwhile. Exhibition & public programs Breath of Soil(s), Zone2Source, 2020.
Part 4: I noticed a rather uncomfortable sensation.., Soft Soils on exhibit Arti et Amicitiae, expected in 2022

See more about the artist-in-residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc in 2020.


Archeological artifact, a shard of a 17th century porridge bowl, found on the surface of ‘Land in Wording’, as an index fossil dating back to the same time as the first mention of country estate Amstelrust (1635) on the river Amstel.
Archeological artifact, a shard of a 17th century porridge bowl that Jacqueline found on the surface of ‘Land in Wording’
as an index fossil dating back to the same time as the first mention of country estate Amstelrust (1635) on the river Amstel.

Test for 3-d scan and mould of the archeological artifact, made during
artist-in-residency at Sundaymorning@EKWC, with special thanks to Fablab@EKWC
Freak test for 3-d scan for mold of the 17th century archeological artifact
made during artist-in-residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc in 2020, with special thanks to Fablab@ekwc