Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011



BRAK: intstallation/debate/exhibition/harvest festival
20 May 2011 – 27 May 2011

BRAK (“Brackish”) was initiated by the artist duo SWAMPS (Roel van Timmeren and Floris van der Keij) together with ARCAM (Architecture Centre Amsterdam), Alterra and Plant Research International of Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

BRAK is a manifestation in which the disciplines of art, science and architecture cooperate.

BRAK sheds light from a variety of angles not only on the negative consequences of salinization but also on the opportunities presented. It demonstrates how our attitudes to nature and the environment are changing, and why it does not have to be a problem (nature itself will come up with solution). The University of Wageningen has researching the possibilities of saline agriculture for some while now. This has consequences for the organization of our landscape, for the farming industry, for Holland’s culinary culture and for society in general.

Land salinization in the Netherlands
Sea levels are rising, while in the low lying areas of Holland the ground is sinking due to the terrestialization of former peat bogs. This leads to increasing water pressure in saline aquifers and hence to saltier soils. Millions of litres of fresh water are pumped daily into the polders maintain the fertility of sub sea-level farmland under conventional farming methods. One approach to this problem is to accept the salinization of the soil and to shift the organization of traditional agriculture in the Netherlands towards the cultivation of salt-tolerant vegetables.

Experimental salt farm
SWAMPS is temporarily installing an experimental salt farm on the ARCAM island, which is surrounded by the freshwater of Oosterdok in Amsterdam. Vegetables such as Samphire, Sea Aster, Sea Lettuce and Sea Kale will be precultivated and planted by the University of Wageningen. The edge of the “field” will be guarded by an enormous “scare-fish”. This object, which lights up like a marine lighthouse at night, functions as a submarine scarecrow. The site-specific installation on the island is intended to have the dual atmosphere of an altar and a laboratory. It is meant as a slightly sardonic comment on the relation between mankind and nature. The ripe sea vegetables will form part of a banquet to be served on the banks of the IJ waterway during the Harvest Festival of 27 August.

Exhibition and debate
The windows of the ARCAM building which face the waterfront will house a window exhibition. On 16 June, Wageningen University & Research will join ARCAM in organizing a debate (on thursday 16 June at 19.30 hrs.) on the consequences of salinization for building and planning. A leitmotif of the debate will be how the various disciplines will contribute to shaping the Dutch landscape of the future.

ARCAM: Open Tuesday–Saturday from 13-17 hours /