The becoming, The being & The meanwhile
subsurface as living climate archive
Land in Wording, Amstelpark Amsterdam
#1 Genesis, #2 Onland, Guardian, #3 Breath of Soil(s), #4 Soft Soils, #5 aardtijd, #6 toenadering, #7 foreshadowing | residual intimacy, #8 Soft Soils, aardtijd, #9 Gathering dust
NEWS: After two years of postponement due to COVID-19, Soft Soils, aardtijd is exhibited at Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam Febr 19-March 27, 2022. Performative intervention ‘Gathering dust’, or delay as an artistic research method on March 25, 2022.
See the invitation.
as timescaping, matterscaping, landscaping, climatescaping
Land in Wording
Since 2019 I work on an ongoing artistic field research project called ‘The becoming, The being & The meanwhile’. This project is themed around Land in Wording, a tiny swamp at Amstelpark.
I was triggered by contemporary romantic narratives that state that “This part of the park is still an original piece of land from before the Floriade (1972)”. But is it? Or is this a form of staged authenticity?
During the process, I question ethics of appropriations/validation of soil/Earth in art and heritage, and of being ‘indigenous Dutch’. I aim to enhance a more reciprocal relationship with soil/Earth as living entity, that sheds another light on the way in which we relate to each other, with the other and with otherness on this unique planet as a whole. As my tutor Joop Beljon at the Royal Academy of the Arts stated “.. our planet, the only garden in the universe..”
At the intersection of art, paleontology, geology, archeology, ecology and climate, I uncovered together with climate scientists and -activists a subsurface living climate archive. With soil/Earth that has not been touched by sunlight for millennia. Matter that responds to my artistic intervention. As the guardian of the collected resources, I am confronted with questions about ethics, learning about ownership and care, attributing value or worthlessness.
At the intersection of art with paleontology, geology, archeology, ecology & climate, I question how natural nature is in Land in Wording. I re-construct the genesis. It appears to be a man-made swamp. A transitional ecology – neither land nor water – designed as an “instructive garden” with “relocated nature” for the horticultural show Floriade in 1972. I notice that during the past 50 years we lost these narratives.
I explore the phenomenon of time and the representation of nature-culture and climate, in three timescales: the becoming, the being and the meanwhile of the subsurface landscape. I encounter a living climate archive.
(1) Genesis, artistic field research, 2019
After re-constructing the genesis of Land in Wording, I find on the surface a 17th century artifact.
A majolica shard of a porridge bowl, part of the ear, with Haarlem curl, mid to 2nd half of the 17th century. An index fossil, parallel in time with the first mentioning of the country estate Amstelrust on the river Amstel, dated 1635.
With climate scientists and -activists I drill in the soils and collect 10 meters depth of subsurface soils with a time-depth of approx. 6.000 years. At a depth of 5.35 – 6.25 m. we find in marine deposits a 6 mm wadslakje (Peringia ulvae) as an index fossil, indicating that this area once knew an intertidal ecology.
(2) Onland, public intervention, 2019
Guardian 2019 –
Since this drilling, I am the guardian of 10 meters of subsurface living soil.
I question ethics of appropriations. In general we tend to perceive mining as destructive exploitation of natural resources, but how do we perceive mining for the sake of art, of beauty?
Some subsurface samples even started to sprout…
Breath of Soil(s) 2020
During the drilling I am confronted with an uncomfortable sensation:
people, plants and animals breathe, but Earth also breathes…
(3) Breath of Soil(s), exhibition and public programs at Zone2Source, 2020
I organize three public programs with Zone2Source in het context of the exhibition Breath of Soil(s) as an exercise in anticipation:
I: Between image and language with climate scientist Tanya Lippmann (VU) and the international youth collective RE-PEAT. II: Joop Beljon (1922-2002), sculptor, teacher, writer, inspirator and my tutor at the Royal Academy of the Arts, dept. Environment. An afternoon about artistic ideas and source material in the arts with Roeland Beljon, guardian of his father’s artistic heritage. III: A Soil Analysis workshop with climate scientist Tanya Lippmann (VU), geologist Bert van der Valk (Deltares), historian Mathijs Boom (UvA), artist-philosopher Lietje Bauwens.
Breath of Soil(s), public programs Anticipations at Zone2Source (2020).
Soft Soils 2021
I start to work on the in-between-ness of art & heritage with soil, questioning processes of validation of value, and if soil benefits from this process?
During my artist-in-residency in 2020 at Sundaymorning@ekwc, the international centre-of-excellence for ceramics, I explore the notion of the natural and the artifactual, of hybrid fossils-artifacts. I had noticed at the intersection of art, paleontology, geology and archeology a parallel in the becoming of a fossil and of ceramic techniques, like a mold, cast or imprint, and the understanding of climate as temperature, humidity, etc like a kiln.
I make a 3-d scan and mold of the archeological artifact, a shard of a 17th century porridge bowl I had found on the surface of Land in Wording. With this mold and different samples of depth of the unfired collected subsurface soils, I start to work on the in-between-ness of art and heritage with soil/Earth, to approach soil as a living entity and a world in and of itself.
…I experience the beauty and vulnerability of soil/Earth: they speak for themselves.
(4) Soft Soils (2021), to be exhibited at Arti et Amicitiae, due to COVID postponed to Febr 19-March 27, 2022. See the invitation (2022).
While the exhibition of Soft Soils became postponed due to COVID restrictions, aardtijd emerged.
During the process of working with unfired subsurface soils – as a supposed reversible process
… I experience again an uncanny sensation
… the subsurface peat shrinks
…thus visualizing the sequence of peat, carbon storage, oxidation, land subsidence
…and this process is irreversible
(5) aardtijd, 2021-ongoing
toenadering [ˈtunadərɪŋ] 2021
Artistic research in progress, of exploring sensorial connections or sensoilations – not being able to touch – light – reflection.
Subsurface soil/Earth that has not been touched by sunlight for millennia
6.000 years of subsurface soils of Land in Wording, submerged underneath a constructed swamp 50 years ago; 12.000 years of submerged peat soils under the North Sea marks the transition of the Pleistocene to the Holocene; 277.000 years of sub-lava soils, since the volcano Colli Albani erupted (IT).
(6) toenadering, i.c.w. dancer-choreographer Kenzo Kusuda, artist Eline Kersten, climate scientist Tanya Lippmann at Glazen Huis, Zone2Source, June 2021.
Validation of value of soil/Earth, through the arts, heritage…? 2021
Research: aardtijd, making use of classic re-presentation format of art, heritage, a pedestal
“… adopt the reverent researcher posture: hands behind backs, 45 degree forward pivot from waist, and on tiptoes… “
(quote Alice Twemlow)
aardtijd | foreshadowing | residual intimacy 2022
While the exhibition of Soft Soils became postponed due to COVID restrictions, aardtijd emerges.
an art work that is too vulnerable to touch, while seeking sensorial connections with soil/Earth.
The work is in my studio and sunlight reveals a new notion, of foreshadowing.
Subsurface soils that affect contemporary and future time.
During my second artist-in-residency at EWKC, I make a 3-d scan of this art work and a 3-d mold to explore different aspects of tactility with peat mosses, seaweeds, algae and biogenic earth materials, diatomaceous algae, kaolin or porcelain clay…Experimentally I discover a kinship between different entities, which either repel or attract each other. I call this residual intimacy.
Porcelain is generally regarded as something of value. What is the value of soil/Earth?
(7) Foreshadowing | residual intimacy, 2nd artist-in-residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc, 2021
Soft Soils, aardtijd 2022
After two years of postponement due to COVID-19, I warmly welcome you to visit Soft Soils, aardtijd
February 19 – March 27, 2022 at Arti et Amicitiae, Rokin 112, Amsterdam.
Soft Soils, aardtijd is embedded within the exhibition Exploded View and the ongoing dialogue artist Eline Kersten and I engaged in since 2019. Starting from a shared fascination of soil/Earth – or the subsurface, that is usually hidden out of sight and has not been touched by sunlight during millennia – we discovered the beauty hidden within soils. We engaged in an intensive parallel process of exploring the scope of artistic curiosity, and most of all with the sensorial responses these submerged soils as Earth offered us. This process became themed around the notions of allowing new or other horizons to emerge in a slow pace, of deep time. Acknowledge that artistic conversations with soil as Earth and beyond need to ‘gather dust’ became a working method
(8) Soft Soils, aardtijd at Arti et Amicitiae, 2022
Gathering Dust 2022
’Gathering dust’, or delay as an artistic research method. A performative intervention in the Exploded View exhibition on perceptions of imaging, image-forming and value systems in art and heritage. In a re-enactment of ‘Musée Imaginaire de la Sculpture’ (André Malraux, 1947), I do not show the supposed collective image memory, but create a world with images and words from my own oeuvre. High on the pedestal lies the work ‘aardtijd’ with the vulnerable soil/Earth, ‘low-to-the-ground’ I walk over art.
In this way I elevate soil/Earth to the iconic origin from which life and also art arises.
(9) Gathering dust at Arti et Amicitiae, 2022.
Special thanks to Zone2Source, Sundaymorning@ekwc, FabLab@ ekwc, In Principio Foundation, CLUE+/VU, the activist youth collective RE-PEAT, climate scientist Tanya Lippmann (VU), dancer-choreographer Kenzo Kusuda, artist Eline Kersten, geologist Bert van der Valk (Deltares), historian Mathijs Boom (UvA), artist-philosopher Lietje Bauwen, Royal Academy of The Hague, Artistic Research Group – Alice Twemlow, Katrin Korfmann, Vibeke Mascini, Jasper Coppes, Hannes Bernard, Louis Braddock Clark, photographers Luuk Smits and Gerrit Schreurs, Arti et Amicitiae, all participants, and many more.
Supported by Mondriaan Fonds, Stroom The Hague.
In 2018 I was invited to participate in Exploded View, Art and Research on Layered Landscapes in Transition, organized by CLUE+ (Interfaculty Institute for Research of the Heritage and History of the Cultural Landscape and Urban Environment, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), RCE (Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed), In Principio Foundation and Zone2Source.
2020 Participating artists Zone2Source, Amstelpark: Krijn Christiaansen & Cathelijne Montens (KCCM), Barbara Neves Altes, Jacqueline Heerema, Jasper Coppes, Pavèl van Houten, Eline Kersten, Birthe Leemeijer, Wouter Osterholt, Miriam Sentler, Leonid Tsvetkov, De Onkruidenier, Curdin Tones and Frank Mueller, Collectief Walden. Curator: Alice Smits.
2022 Participating artists Arti et Industriae, Parco Regionale dell’Appia Antica Rome – Amstelpark: Jasper Coppes, Maarten Davidse, Pavèl van Houten, Eline Kersten icw Jacqueline Heerema, Wouter Osterholt, Daniela de Paulis, Miriam Sentler, Silvia Stucky, Curdin Tones i.s.m. Frank Müller, Leonid Tsvetkov en Paolo Romoli Venturi. Curator: dr. Krien Clevis icw prof. dr. Gert-Jan Burgers, director of CLUE+/VU.