Miek Zwamborn & Rutger Emmelkamp – Song for Hazel and Birch
Participant of Our Living Soil
How can the landscape, seen through different eyes and mapped in a polyphonic and sensory way, provide new insights, generate stories and offer possibilities for a more sustainable relationship between man and his environment?
For Our Living Soil, Rutger Emmelkamp and Miek Zwamborn are developing the installation Lied voor Hazelaar en Berk / Song for Hazel and Birch, in which they focus on the northern flank of Torr Fada, a densely wooded slope with remnants of the now rare Celtic rainforest and ruins of one of the many villages on the Scottish end of Mull.
Poor soil provided the originally Scottish Gaelic-speaking population with a breeding ground from which a rich culture could develop. This culture, which dates back far before the Bronze Age, has been deliberately destroyed since ±1750 and has largely disappeared (Highland Clearances). The same applies to flora and fauna. The resulting cultural silence and impoverished landscape are drowned out by ocean roaring, bleating sheep and growing tourism. Ubiquitous ruins, traces of former fields and patches of primaeval forest still give an impression of the richness and bustle of yesteryear.
The traumatic void calls for a cautious approach. It raises questions about how newcomers to the island might relate to the complex issues in this installation – which is part of a long-term, collective research project (KNOCKvologan) – Rutger Emmelkamp and Miek Zwamborn attempt to draw attention to this landscape full of contradictions. Behind Lied voor Hazelaar en Berk lies the idea that humus, peat, sand, clay and rock are culture-generating substances and that the local soil composition can help fill the resulting void.