We don’t exist
Artist-in residence, solo-show and debate about a fictional proposal
As an artist-in-residence I was asked to research in and into the landscape of Diepenheim and to add a new layer of meaning to the well-known country estate identity. My project was called We Don’t Exist, in response to a comment from a resident when I asked whether Diepenheim has any fringes, shacks or ruins. “They don’t exist here,” was her answer at the time. Yet two hours later I found myself in a completely dilapidated farm on the Esweg. This farm had been burned down twenty years earlier. The state of disrepair made visible how a traditional Twente farmhouse was built: the oak trusses, the part and the stone facade were all visible because the thatched roof was burnt.
The exhibition took place in the Ottenhuis, which is a reconstruction of the same type of farm. Here I showed my anatomical study of the farm in scale models in combination with some burnt doors that I had taken from that farm. I returned those doors to the farm after the exhibition.
I ended my work period with a presentation of a fictitious proposal to place the facade of the farm, which was still somewhat preserved, as a work of art in the forest. With this made-up proposal I tried to reactivate this forgotten place in the minds of the audience. A local architect was willing to make construction drawings and calculations for this. The local historical circle Old Deep’n put me in touch with the last former inhabitant of that farm, who was able to tell exactly what the farm looked like before the fire. By linking my story to that of that former resident and the architect, the past and future of the farm were approached from three perspectives. Although it was a fictitious proposal, the lecture resulted in a new focus on this farm and in a broader discussion about how we deal with traditional Twente heirs at a time when many farmers (have to) give up.