Miriam Sentler     


  

Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar







Swamp Palace



This work was made with Deep Time Agency and in the context of Tegelen, North Limburg, the Netherlands. It was commissioned by Museum van Bommel van Dam en Odapark

Team: Sticky Lock (augmented reality layer), Luc Rayer (bricklayer)

Thanks to Nelleke Hooijer, Phlip Bossenbroek, Sjra van Horne, Saskia van Stein, Joep Vossebeld, Hans Lenders
and Werner Schins.

     
The project is generously funded by Museum Bommel van Dam and Odapark Venlo/ Venray (NL)


     

(2022) Installation in public space, (engraved) bricks, soil, water, 92 plant seeds, market stall, ziplock bags, flyers, aluminium signs, augmented reality (AR) layer



Swamp Palace is a site-specific work situated in front the former town hall of Tegelen. At the start of its construction, inhabitants nicknamed it ‘Moeraspaleis’ (Dutch for Swamp Palace), as some believed that the ground would be too wet for such a monumental building. Deep Time Agency bases their speculative design proposal on this former nickname, reconstructing an imaginary and ancient wetland biotope in the urban area in order to start a discussion on the current re-development plans of the city. This idea is also based on the fact that wetlands act as carbon sinks and biodiversity spots, presenting the possibility to “make up” for the industrial past of Tegelen, a city characterized by “a wood of chimneys” in the last century.

The work consists of three different components; a temporary intervention during the duration of the exhibition, a virtual AR (Augmented Reality) layer and a permanent intervention. The project refers to the work of paleo-anthropologist Eugene Dubois (1858-1940), who lived in the area and conducted ecological experiments on the ‘De Bedelaar’ estate, where he tried to grow a primeval forest based on fossilised seeds that he found in Tegelen’s industrial clay pits. Dubois devoted the last years of his life to the paleo-ecological experiment, transforming the Bedelaar estate into an ancient forest and wetland. In doing so, he envisioned a natural park that he called Kallilimne (Greek for “beautiful lake”). He imported seeds from other countries, planted exotic trees, established a bird forest and changed elevations in the landscape. The 38-hectare area was transformed from a depleted peatland to a dense forest and wetland area. Reportedly, many new species grew and flourished, including a dozen species of water lilies.

Following Dubois’ forgotten experiment, Deep Time Agency undertakes a similar experiment to make the ongoing changing of the landscape (by city planners, architects and due to the climate crisis) visible to the inhabitants of Tegelen. At different moments during the manifestation, a market stall was installed on the square in front of the former city hall, distributing seeds from the Dubois´ collection to passersby, offering them the opportunity to recreate parts of the primeval natural landscape in their own gardens. The virtual layer shows the plants and trees that may emerge from the seeds in the long run, turning the former city hall into a “swamp palace”, that visitors can enter by scanning a QR code visible on the square. The circular brick sculptures in the centre of Tegelen and in the exhibition space of Odapark contain soil and water in which all the seeds are planted that derive from Dubois´ collection, mimicking the wild ecological experiment on the Bedelaar estate. The sculptures are made of (clay) bricks, in which the names of the fossilised seeds are engraved.





Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, containing the plant seeds of the Dubois collection. 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar






Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, containing the plant seeds of the Dubois collection. 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar





Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, containing the plant seeds of the Dubois collection. 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar






Swamp Palace in the exhibition space of Odapark, containing the waterplant seeds of the Dubois collection. 2022. Photo credits: Deep Time Agency/ Peter de Rond




Swamp Palace in the exhibition space of Odapark, containing the waterplant seeds of the Dubois collection. Photo credits: Deep Time Agency/ Peter de Rond





Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar





Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency





Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar



Swamp Palace in front of the former municipality hall of Tegelen, 2022. Copyright: Deep Time Agency/ Mara van den Oetelaar






© Miriam Sentler 2022