photos by: Sjaak Langenberg & Matthijs Bosman
Project commissioned by Houten council. Saudade was made possible through the support of the province of Utrecht and CBK Utrecht.
Book Evocative power of a building site (Dutch only): € 15,--
HOUTEN – An inhabitant of the Dutch town of Houten who returned from holidaying on the island of Texel discovered to her surprise that a dune landscape had appeared opposite her house. Initially the inhabitants of South Houten, where 7000 new houses are planned, assumed that building was going to recommence in their neighbourhood. Thirty-two lorries full of sand had been trucked in. The familiar building routines were repeating themselves. But within a few days the salty smelling builders’ sand had been transformed into a dunescape. Are folks in Houten preparing themselves for an imminent rise in sea level? The residents powers of imagination to envision their future kitchens in the concrete foundations, plus the images and rituals of construction in the newest part of Houten, served as the inspiration for the art project ‘Saudade’ that took place in Houten South. ‘Saudade’ consists of five works of art, a number of temporary activities based around these works, and a photography competition for residents of this new neighbourhood. The artworks function as visual recollections of the adventurous early years of the neighbourhood. They show that an unfinished neighbourhood offers more to the imagination than a place where every playground has been delineated in a ready-to-use neighbourhood.
‘Longing back to that which you have never known’ is, freely translated, the meaning of the Portuguese term ‘saudade’. Builders’ sand transformed into a dunescape; a ‘bathhouse’ whereby construction was suspended before completion, turned out to be perfectly useful in its unfinished form, as an open-air cinema. Through use of a subtle campaign, the viewpoint of the inhabitants mixed with those of the artists. Photos by residents and photos of the executed artworks were compiled into a ‘birth book’ of the neighbourhood.
Listen to radio broadcast (Dutch only)
PDF Dutch national newspaper NRC Next: A desolate pool of mud as inspiration (Dutch only)
© Sjaak Langenberg,Matthijs Bosman & Krijn Christiaansen