Why an exhibition on the Frisian peatlands now?
As German cultural anthropologist, Werner Krauss, affirms, “landscapes are never passive – they are inseparably bound up with the identity of the people that inhabit, shape and administer them.” In that sense, in the collective imaginary, the Frisian peatlands are unquestionably linked to the notion of ‘land in use’ with the extraction of peat and the dairy farm industry playing an important role in the past and present Dutch economy and land administration policies. In light of the ongoing Climate Crisis, however, such extractivist systems are put into question globally as their approach is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and environmental decay. With Fertile Grounds, the Fries Museum and the Arcadia Festival wish to take an active role in facilitating the debate around the future of the Frisian peatlands, proposing new design scenarios that put the rewetting of the land and the practice of paludiculture at the centre of the equation so that the future of the peatlands can be an environmentally-friendly one.
The exhibition as a participatory think tank
“We believe that in the era of Climate Change, the role of design exhibitions is to act as critical spaces to question and reframe pressing societal issues. Their goal should not be solely to testify of what has been done in the past, but rather open up conversations on what can be done in the future,” affirm the curators, Laura Drouet and Olivier Lacrouts of studio d-o-t-s. “To deal with the Frisian peatlands – which is a very sensitive topic environmentally, socially and politically – we have imagined the Fries Museum as a sort of neutral ground for debates and activities where the audience can learn and actively participate in the discussion. Acting as a meeting place for people from different horizons, the exhibition wishes to establish the museum as a fertile space for critical reflections, putting forward creative approaches to peatland evolution. Our hope is that by the end of the exhibition, in April 2023, the project will have generated new meaningful ideas thanks to the participation of the audience and the invited specialists.”