— Image caption: Han Jansen, Waddenprojekt, 1980, photo by John Stoel —
Anna-Rosja Haveman | NWO PhD project – Nature, Crisis and Creativity: Artistic Approaches to Coastal Landscapes of the Netherlands | University of Groningen | Promotors: Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Mans Schepers, Theo Spek | September 2019-August 2024 | a.haveman[at]rug.nl
This PhD project foregrounds the critical and creative engagement of contemporary artists with the tangible and imagined coastal landscapes of the Netherlands. The project is composed of four themed chapters: (1) the tide (2) waves (3) energy (4) over and under the sea, whereby each chapter examines the work of multiple artists. The artistic practices are taken as an incentive to consider how the Dutch coast is known, experienced and imagined otherwise. Art shapes and in shaped by societal ideas about nature, which are reflected upon in each chapter. What happens when artists co-create with the tide? Make art in a nature reserve? Measure waves? Look into the extraction of natural resources? Or poetically imagine myths related to colonial past that is tied up with the Dutch coast? My research both reflects how artists operate in between extant scientific knowledge, environmentalism and their creative capacity to appeal to other registers of knowledge. The artworks probe a reflection on theoretical notions relevant to the intersection of art and nature, such as the concept of ecology, earth agency, affordances of the landscape and hyperobjects. This project aims to highlight how artists navigate these topics, while still creating ambiguous artworks. Most case-studies are more recent, but some cases go back to the 1970s. By comparing past and present practices this project shows the shifting notions of environmental issues in art and society. This comparative framework enables an analysis of artistic approaches and emphasizes how each artist sheds light in their own way on different aspects of the coastal landscapes. The result will not only provide insight into the myriad of idiosyncratic artistic practices, but also show how artists might foster awareness and develop new perspectives in the face of contemporary ecological crises.