Josje Hattink

artistiek onderzoek - ecologie - installatie - natuur - omgeving

I am a visual artist with a keen interest in natural and humanmade landscapes. In my projects, I examine debatable forms of "natural" environments which are subject to human control. My work consists of visual narratives that respond to questions of relating to these specific surroundings, through the focus on small things that can represent a bigger picture. In a time where the ‘natural’ is critically analysed and evaluated in media and politics worldwide, I dedicate my artistic practice to navigating my audience through case studies of particular landscapes, while alternating between micro and macro perspectives.

Mounting View - ‘Mounting view’ (2020) is a mountain diorama which proposes the insertion of new mountains in an ancient landscape. It was exhibited at De Aanschouw, in April 2020.
The All-seeing Eye (in progress) - This is a short selection of raw footage which I am currently processing for the project 'The All-Seeing Eye'. It is not a finished work. I am still working on additional 'micro-footage' and a sound edit. The most recent development in my practice towards the representation of places, and a certain illusionary experience of them, has drawn my attention to the use of drones in filming wildlife documentaries and the capturing of landscapes. For a new project, I am currently processing footage that I shot with a drone in a glacier landscape in Iceland. The footage has a relationship to the imagery we are used to from nature documentaries: breathtaking views from a superhuman perspective. In this work, the superhuman perspective meets a superhuman presence: a character dressed in an absurdist, larger-than-life, disguise is being observed by the watchful eye of the drone. This work in progress will explore the dimensions and boundaries of human presence and surveillance in a place where nature is omnipresent, yet contained in a nature reserve.
Wander Often Wonder Always - 2019, installation, car, printed media, two-channel video (duration 20:53 min) with sound On display at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, during Midnight Sunburn Wander Often Wonder Always explores the desire to move away from familiar surroundings by zooming in on a family that is reflecting on their life in a typical Dutch residential area. While wandering around within the safe boundaries of a Cauliflower Neighborhood, it simultaneously zooms out to expose a heartfelt conflict between living life within a pre-designed system and a lingering aspiration to go explore the world.
The Form Follows the Vegetable - 'The Form Follows the Vegetable' (2019) is a performance that speaks about the desire to move away from familiar surroundings by zooming in on the patterns and structures that define a typical Dutch residential area, called a 'Cauliflower Neighborhood'. Lead by a personal narrative, it simultaneously zooms out to expose a heartfelt conflict between living life within a pre-designed system and a lingering aspiration to go explore the world.
No Excavation No Vacation - 2018, installation, print on towels, wood, metal On display at Locatie Z, The Hague, during Probe III – Open Studios, December 2018 No Excavation No Vacation originates from a one-week project in collaboration with Swimming Pool Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria. With limited time available to gain experience and inspiration, I decided to do what a tourist would do in an unfamiliar city: go sightseeing. I found the Serdica excavation site, in the city center. The ruins hadn’t been in a very splendiferous condition when excavated in 2005, so a process of what one could call ‘reconstructive restauration’ followed. This has resulted in a strange supposed-to-be antique architecture, consisting mainly of modern building materials. On top of that, the site is vaulted by a hyper modern building that also houses an underground metro station, which has turned this ancient part of Sofia into an alien place that at its best resembles an empty swimming pool. I was fascinated by this odd place and I could see how it had been entrusted with the important job of putting Sofia, as brand new addition to the family of European capitals (2007), on the map as vibrant metropole with an ancient history. However, I felt that the forceful construction of the place into a touristic attraction, situated underground and staying mostly desolate outside rush hour, had turned it into merely a ‘somewhere’. The photos that I took of the metro station have been turned into sculptures of merchandize: un-foldable beach chairs that are lined with beach towels that carry printed images of the underground cityscape on them. The texts on the towels are mostly free translations of slogans from travel agencies; slogans that could take you anywhere, brought to a place that could only be somewhere.
Voice of a Sinking Landscape - 2018, installation and sound piece Wood, swimming pool, print on PVC, sand, print on polyester fabric, microphones Voice of a Sinking Landscape speaks about the sinking landscape of the Horstermeerpolder. The polder was established in 1882 after the drainage of lake Horstermeer, but has been struggling with its existence ever since. Scientists and nature conservationists argue for the restoration of this landscape by flooding it. The resistance of the local residents against this led to a coup (2010) and the polder was briefly declared as an independent republic within the Netherlands. As far as I am concerned, the Horstermeerpolder is a microcosmos. I see this landscape as a poetic scenery for a small story about contemporary politics and climate issues. For the project, I collaborated with climate scientists, locals, nature conservationists (Natuurmonumenten) and politicians of the Dutch Water Authority (Waterschap). It resulted in a large installation which was on display during the exhibition Climate as Artifact at the Elektriciteitsfabriek in The Hague, in October 2018. The installation was a translation of the shapes, stories, and images that I found in the Horstermeerpolder. It contained three speaking microphones, through which the audience could listen to interviews with stakeholders in the case of the Horstermeerpolder: the nature conservationists, the politicians and the local community. The project was accompanied by a zine, which I made in collaboration with climate scientist dr. Tanya Lippmann. The zine contains a selection of letters from the correspondence between me and dr. Lippman. It moves between absurd questions, scientific answers, poetry and storytelling, while zooming in and zooming out on the Horstermeerpolder and global climate issues.
All is Well in the Garden - 2017, installation with audio tour (11:31 min), peat, sand, logs, lacquer “I want to tell you a story… I will take you on a tour.” All is well in the garden was on display in the garden of the Piet Zwart Institute, in December 2017, at Expolu Nijmegen, in June 2018, and at Kunsthuis SYB, in August 2018. It consisted of an installation in combination with an audio tour, which functioned as a prosaic guide through the work. The audience were invited to listen to the audio on headphones, while moving through the installation. The work speaks about what happens when we dig away the ground below our feet, when we experience the traces of the past and are confronted with its materials. Materials that can be preserved forever or will perish the moment you bring them to the surface. This experience relates to the experience of a landscape and is above all a sensory one, intertwined with thoughts, knowledge and memory. These three elements were choreographed into the work through the audio tour. The audio piece is a collage of my own writing together with quotes from Christopher Tilley’s book A Phenomenology of Landscape and excerpts from the movie Being There, quoting the main character Chaunsey Gardiner. Gardiner is actually a gardener, who explains the world through analogies with the garden. The man is mentally disabled, but people take his metaphors for wisdom and follow his advices without questioning his knowledge. All is well in the garden tells a story about the history of the Dutch (peat) landscapes and offers an aberrant mode for perceiving it, in a garden: a place that is thoroughly cultivated by human hands and minds. It speaks about how we relate to place and space with our body and our imagination. Because after all: “life is a state of mind.”
Brandend Drach - 2017, happening in ‘Zandput Nij Beets’, Opsterland district, Friesland, NL Brandend Drach was an event that took place on the 9th of September 2017 in the ‘Zandput Nij Beets’ and was part of a project I ran at Kunsthuis SYB, Drach. The Zandput (Sand Pit) is used by local company Van der Wiel and is located between the villages Beetsterzwaag and Nij Beets. The company trades in raw materials that are extracted from the surrounding site, on the border between sand and mud. Van der Wiel’s labour is a contemporary variant of soil extraction work, which is so deeply rooted in the history of the surroundings. No longer worked by hand, but by heavy machines that move thousands of tons of land annually. This creates an estranged, local landscape that seems far removed from the polders and flat peat lands in the surrounding landscape and its history. The conclusion of the project, Burning Drach, was conducted on Open Monument Day; a great bonfire to celebrate the peat and the energy it contains, together with the communities of Nij Beets and Beetsterzwaag. The smell of burning peat reached into Beetsterzwaag, and the smoke plume was visible in Nij Beets.
Drach - 2017, installation, peat, soil, wood, carpet, clay extruder, posters (30 x 45 cm), concrete, glass, tree trunks The documentation shows the results of my one-month working period as artist in residence at Kunsthuis SYB, in August 2017. Drach was on view at Kunsthuis SYB from 8 till 17 September 2017. During my residency, I conducted a research project on the history of the peatlands surrounding Beetsterzwaag, and its neighbouring village Nij Beets. The villages hold a deep historical connection to the soil they were built on: peat and sand grounds, which were touched, moved and shaped entirely by human labour. To this day, the history of these soils both connect and divide the communities: the noble men and land owners that lived on the sandy grounds of Beetsterzwaag, next to the commoners and labourers that lived on the peatlands of Nij Beets. I was interested in how the material had generated meaning in this juxtaposition over time, and how it could still have meaning in the present. During my residency, I collaborated with scientists, peat workers, land owners and locals. The project resulted in a large installation at Kunsthuis SYB, which functioned as a visual narrative through the past and present of these landscapes. Drach was produced with the generous support of: Stroom Den Haag, Van Teyens Fundatie, Mondriaan Fonds en VSB fonds