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A.R. Haveman

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Nature, Crisis, and Creativity - The Landscape of the Northern Netherlands as Critical Material: from Abstract to Activist Art

As early as the late 1960s artists have used Dutch landscapes as material in their creative process with aesthetic, ecological and political intentions. Given persistent and new ecological crises (e.g. rising sea levels, earth quakes), the human-shaped landscape of the Northern Netherlands is, again, of great interest to artists today. Yet there is no integral study of the environmentally engaged art in the Northern Netherlands. While the American land artists in the Netherlands (Oppenheim, Morris, Smithson) have received a fair share of attention, related work of Dutch artists (Jansen, De Vries) has faded into oblivion. This project foregrounds the particular engagement of artists with the landscape in the Northern Netherlands since the 1960s. By comparing past to present practices this project shows the shifting notions environmental issues in art and society, with special attention for the particular materiality of local land art: water, peat and gas have not only shaped the environment in the (recent) past but artists utilize those materials in their creative endeavors as critical materials today. The project is structured along these materials and localities in four contexts (coast, polder, peat and gas extraction). This comparative framework enables an analysis between different historical periods and distinct aesthetic approaches: from abstract to activist art, and the myriad of idiosyncratic artistic practices in between. The result will not only provide insight into a hitherto neglected chapter of Dutch land art, but also show how artists might foster awareness and develop new perspectives in the face of contemporary ecological crises.

Last modified:21 October 2019 8.12 p.m.

Contact information

Oude Boteringestraat 34
9712 GK Groningen
The Netherlands