Large-scale alterations into the landscape such as hydroelectric dams, geo-engineering, mining and monoculture plantations are ways to remove entanglements to place. These alterations have long-lasting direct and indirect trickle-down consequences, including flooding, uncontrolled fires, extinction of species, deforestation and polluted soil and rivers. Land-use, particularly for energy and food, define the aesthetics of the Brazilian and Dutch landscapes, whether it’s monocultures or greenhouses, dams or wind turbines. Mostly for food and fuel, both Brazil and the Netherlands are homogenizing landscapes to such an extent that we are losing the complex notion of place and belonging. Traditionally flora and fauna would define a non-urban place; biodiversity is complex web, influenced by temperature, humidity, windflows, bacteria, mycelia and many other ecosystemic factors. They all feed off each other and form intricate interdependent relationships that create liveable habitats for endless amounts of species, including humans. We propose that removing these entanglements could suggest the non-place of the 21st century. In Marc Augé’s Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995) it were airports, motorways, hotels, parking garages marking the loss of relations, history, and identity of our current society. Now, more than 25 years after ‘Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity’ – we could say it’s the global floodings, fires, monocultures, draughts, minings and large-scale deforestation that mark and define our age of ‘post- supermodernity’.
The starting point for the project is the notion that due to the increased global demand for fuel and food-production, agricultural lands are increasingly becoming ‘non-places. Irrigation and fertilizers allow us to adapt landscapes to such an extent we can grow crops that are popular (soy, corn, potatoes, sugarcane, rice, wheat), though completely alien to their context. In greenhouses, popular in the Netherlands, we create artificial micro-climates to increase efficiency. One could even say that a wheat field or a greenhouse, are just as domesticated as an urban landscape. Both Brazil and the Netherlands are important players in the global food-market, increasingly affecting ecosystems to the point of collapse. Though the countries are on opposite ends of the globe, they are simultaneously at the forefront of being affected by the climate crisis. Brazil due to deforestation, agrotoxics and all the entangled complexities and the Netherlands because it’s prone to rising sea-levels – amongst many other reasons.
We believe artists have an important role to play in bringing important topics to the public in new ways. Both the two curators and the executive producer met each other in the Brazilian Amazon in August 2019 during the Labverde residency. The forest fires were peaking and we bonded over our deep concerns about the future of the Amazon. A big part of the deforestation is due to land-grabbing to create lands for monocultures and cattle to graze. Fudder and meat that is then exported to countries including the Netherlands. Though one a very small country and the other very big, both Brazil and the Netherlands are important and entangled players in the global foodmarket. The urgency for change is bigger than ever with ecosystems collapsing and zoonotic diseases on the rise (due to habitat loss of species). We want to raise awareness both in Brazil and in the Netherlands and allow for knowledge exchange on this topic. We also believe there are a lot of innovative solutions in the Netherlands when it comes to efficient farming and greenhouses whilst the Netherlands can learn a lot from for instance traditional and indigenous practices and community-based farming.
Changing Landscapes/Alterando Paisagens is an online exchange program between Brazilian and Dutch artists who are interested in topics such as land-use, food-systems, land-reclamation, energy (from hydro-electric dams to wind turbines), farming, climate, biodiversity and other related topics. Through curatorial conversations, Reading Groups and other forms of knowledge exchange, the purpose of the project is to stimulate creative engagement with the (problematic) notion of the anthropocentric landscape in both countries.
Two artists from the Netherlands and two artists from Brazil have been selected, by the curators, in collaboration with residencies Labverde (Brazil) and Valley of the Possible (Netherlands/Chile) to develop work during the programme that will be shared on this website.