New research commissioned by EEN FABRIEK /A FACTORY / Zeeland to tell a story about a small and nonedescript parcel of land; a site condensing a series of land threads from past to future: de Mosselbanken, edging the Weste Scheldt estuary.
For an installation/site conversation and land based storytelling in October 2023.
The storytelling is actually not so much about the land but about the loss of the Mosselbanken. Once a saltmarsh area where seaweed and bivalves lived, feeding on the nutrients in the salt water way between Antwerp and the North Sea. Then a site where people grew and harvested mussels, on wooden frames in the shallow salt waters, to sell in the local mussel markets at the town of Philipine. Subsequently and incrementally pouldered/ reclaimed from the ocean over a series of infills, as is the way with coastlines in Netherlands, with the final section geoengineered into a site for a Dowe Chemical plant, a deepwater harbour and a piece of de novo brownlands, optimistically called the ValuePark
Pouldering; the human act of pulling low lying land up and away from the embrace of the sea, is so Dutch; as is pouldering economically valueless saltmarshes into economically valued farmland; in a nation where such intergenerational geoengineering activities has made over 33% of the land country’s area. Where the marks of previous pouldering ventures are inscribed in the lines of level / poulder banks winding across the anthropogenic lands. So the Mosselbanken is not unique.
I am especially interested in this specific site however because it speaks of human land based value systems; of trading saltmarsh for jobs and a plastics factory; and the post-carbon future of this trade as society moves away from peak-plastic. Speaking to the past and the future from the same point above sealevel.
Im interested in the story of the mussels, the seagrasses, the historic mussel harvesting songs, against the plastic-present and maybe a future mussel-singing.
Across the next few months I will be researching with biodegradable bioplastics made from seagrass and seaweed extracts. Ill be casting mussels in bioplastics and considering these small objects within the present lands. Speculating on the Dowe plastic factory as a future extinction site, and on the watery ecology that may inhabit it from past to future.
Reading: James Bridle, Ways of Being
Thinking: Of mussels as a storyteller