My relationship to the world was initially shaped in my early years in the Netherlands, an over-cultivated country filled with crowds of people, where the immense cloud filled skies constantly swept against the logic of order of Dutch society. My early observations of a natural world was set against the backdrop of a nation which sits below sea level and is reliant on great walls to keep out the ever-rising sea. This is a constant reminder that ultimately, nature cannot be truly harnessed.
This complex relationship between man and nature has been a constant throughout my work. ‘Tumbling Forest of the North’, a current series, illuminates active permafrost thaw within the Northern Alaskan landscape where I have collected documentation and learned from permafrost scientists at the Geophysical Permafrost Lab. I will continue my work as a resident at the Toolik Field Station in the arctic circle this summer.
‘Tumbling Forest of the North is among many works where I have drawn from multidisciplinary sources to better understand the fast paced transformations of the Anthropocene. Two earlier examples include, ‘Solastalgia/Dis Place’ and ‘The Noahs, A Climatic Tale’.
In ‘Solastalgia’, a series of paintings, I studied the ideas of Australian eco-philosopher Glen Albrecht. Solastalgia, a term coined by Albrecht, is the mental distress caused by environmental loss. Glen Albrecht and I met and over time we exchanged ideas and imagery. In the Solastalgia works I explored how memories of places from my own childhood shift as environmental loss becomes a reality.
‘The Noahs, A Climatic Tale’ was a multidisciplinary eco-opera created in 2001 where I gathered a team of composers, writers, video artists, and musicians to symbiotically create a small scale opera as a climate change resistance piece. Not only was it an exchange of ideas concerning environmental loss and change but also of cultures as the team comprised of artists from the USA, Netherlands, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, The Czech republic and England. The piece had 10 performances at Amsterdams’ Theater Pompoen.
Never has the genre of landscape been so critical and so urgent to my practice as it is now. Each work portrays a fleeting, actively deconstructing moment in time. We continue to exist as persistent strangers in a dynamic and constantly changing landscape.