Miriam Sentler      

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                                                                     Audio installation view at Ecotones - Bodies in Tension at Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam (NL)

Neu-Keyenberg, one of the newly built copy-villages which replace the ancient-old settlement Keyenberg, sacrificed to local lignite industry. Image credits: Ruth Klapproth, 2019.

The work was shown at Nieuw Dakota Amsterdam (NL) in the group exhibition ‘Ecotones: Bodies in Tension’ (2020) curated by Mariana Lanari. Part of ‘Building an Archive of a Disappearing Landscape’

Thanks to Dr. Kees van Oers (KNAW), Montei Di Matteo, Miriam van Rijsingen,  Paula Albuquerque and Mariana Lanari.

The Chase (2020)

In collaboration with composer Drake Stoughton.  Audio installation 00.07.53 loop, artist publication, 24 x 17 cm

The Chase is an audio installation and artist publication, realised in collaboration with composer Drake Stoughton and with the assistance of ecologist Kees van Oers (KNAW). Made within the context of the project ‘Building an Archive of a Disappearing Landscape’ (2018-present), it researches multiple forms of sacrifice within the industrial landscape of North-Rhine Westphalia (DE).

The work evolves around the memories of some of the older villagers of Keyenberg (DE), a village which will soon be excavated due to lignite industry, which have been observing birds since their childhood years. The former inhabitants report the loss of a large variety of birds orchestrating in their gardens. This phenomenon came to an abrupt end after their forced resettlement to ‘Neu-Keyenberg’, one of the newly built copy-villages replacing the original settlements. Due to the concrete nature of the new villages and the excavation of the nearby Hambacher forest, the animals are now driven out of this landscape. The missing of natural, site-specific flora and fauna results in a nostalgic feeling of missing the disappeared; coined as ‘solastalgia’ by the Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht. Reason for exploring contemporary forms of this feeling in this landscape was the disappearing of Langendorf, the village in which Miriam’s grandfather was born, tearing a geographical hole into her own family history. After the excavation of the villages, the excavation holes are turned into artificial lakes, causing the loss of ecosystems and local culture within the landscape.

By recording birdsongs during dawn within the Hambacher Forst, the forest near to the old Keyenberg, and by examining them together with ecologist Kees van Oers (KNAW), the work highlights the unique composition of birds present within the disappearing landscape. In collaboration with composer Drake Stoughton, a score was made, in which’s process the audio was matched with the right notes. The composer’s inability of keeping track with the birds represents the problem of archiving the natural, resulting in an auditive play (or chase) between the archived and the archiver. The publication displays the score or ‘catch’ resulting from this chase, representing an additional step of archiving; therefore further transforming the natural phenomenon in the process.

The work is one of the outcomes of a two-year long artistic research project, undertaken within the framework of the rMA Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. To read the academic outcome, please click this link.


Artist publication ‘The Chase’ at Ecotones - Bodies in Tension at Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam (NL

Excerpt audio file the Chase. Please listen with headphones.

Audio recordings The Chase, Hambacher Forst, Germany (DE)

Artist publication ‘The Chase’ at Ecotones - Bodies in Tension at Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam (NL)

Artist publication ‘The Chase’ at Ecotones - Bodies in Tension at Nieuw Dakota, Amsterdam (NL)

 Ecological bird registration inside ‘The Chase’ publication, analysed by Dr. Kees van Oers.