A memory from the past can be a prediction of the future. It allows us to fantasise and possibly predict what is yet to come. During my residency in Schiedam, I visited Venice and was amazed by the high sea levels. This triggered my imagination (and fear) of floods. Will this be the future of The Netherlands? A country of which a large proportion lies below sea level. Several major rivers flow through The Netherlands which makes two thirds of the country susceptible to flooding. My residency project, which was originally about the influence of images on what we see and what we know, got caught in the current and forged new angles. The kinship to seawater connected Venice and Schiedam. Recollection records and creates memories of a speculative flood imagined with photographic media.
Venice is built in the middle of a shallow lagoon, with the winds of the Sirocco blowing across the Adriatic, Venice has always been at risk of ‘Acqua Alta’, or high water. On the night of 12 November 2019, Venice was hit by a tide of water over 1.8m high. At its peak, more than 80 per cent of the city was underwater. Historic buildings and monuments were flooded. Businesses and homes were gutted. It was the second worst flood ever recorded in Venice.
Schiedam is established after the construction of a dike to protect the polderland against seawater. Despite the ingenious defence system in the Netherlands, a disaster like the North Sea flood in 1953 (Dutch: Watersnoodramp) can never be completely prevented.
Although I didn’t experience the North Sea flood myself, images and visual information alike inspired the making of Recollection. The installation is presented in De Sodabriek in Schiedam.
Venice has always been at risk of flooding. But with climate change causing more damaging storms more often, what does the future hold for this historic city?