testing ground for art & ecology
spring 2024 - spring 2025


Theun Karelse


In 2021, after half a century of absence, the otter reemerged on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The arrival of the otter is extraordinary. The otter has not been seen in Amsterdam since 1963, due in part to polluted water and traffic congestion. Amsterdam therefore no longer has the biodiversity it once had as a swamp. With the return of the otter, the question arises of how we could give more space to the otter and other species of animals and plants in our city, with its many canals, gardens and parks.

The artwork Otterdam explores what the new (urban) ecology and water management of Amsterdam may look like now that the otter, after half a century of absence, makes their return to the city. Artist Theun Karelse introduces a design in the form of “floating allotments” that provide a livable city for the otter, humans and nature.
Allowing the otter to thrive in the city causes its entire ecosystem to flourish: from fish and aquatic plants to frogs and other creatures ecologically linked to the otter. This artwork consequently contributes to a livable city for all of its living inhabitants. An exhibition and workshops will be organised around the work.

This work is part of the Radical City Inc. programme by Transnatural